Orthodontics / Braces
Braces are devices to align and straighten teeth, correct malocclusion, and provide normal function and beautiful smile.
The basic idea behind braces is to produce a force on a tooth in a specific, controlled amount and direction to move a tooth (the biology of just how a tooth moves when a force is applied will be discussed later).
Knowing a bit about how orthodontics work can help you prepare for the braces pain you might experience. Braces place continuous pressure on the teeth to slowly move them into a different position. The key components of braces are:
- Brackets: A bracket is attached to each tooth or to a band placed around the tooth. Brackets hold the wires that actually cause the teeth to move. Braces pain associated with brackets may include pain from the band or the brackets.
- Wires: The wires used for braces are known as arch wires. They are attached to the brackets, and an orthodontist adjusts them at regular visits. Sometimes braces pain occurs soon after the braces are adjusted. (1), (2)
No matter the age of the patient, nor the type of orthodontic appliance used, the need for meticulous oral hygiene is universal.
As orthodontic treatments become increasingly accessible and discreet, more and more adults are seeking to straighten their teeth. In a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, 31.5% of participants expressed a desire for treatment to improve the alignment of their teeth. However, lots of people still believe that orthodontics is for children and teenagers.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) supports orthodontic treatment for adults, reporting that their U.S. and Canadian members were treating 1,690,000 adult patients as of 2016. With orthodontic treatment a viable option for most adults, we discuss the importance of providing orthodontic evaluation for all patients.
It is a common misconception that adult teeth cannot be moved in the same way as the teeth of children and teenagers. The truth is that regardless of the patient’s age, applying force to the teeth with the use of an orthodontic appliance will cause the teeth to move. It may take longer in an adult patient due to higher bone density, but it can be done successfully in the majority of cases.
Adult orthodontic patients may present additional challenges due to missing, damaged or restored teeth, medications, bruxism, or habits like smoking. In some cases, this may mean additional treatment to restore optimum oral health before undergoing treatment, potentially requiring support from other dental specialists. While this may make orthodontic treatment more complex, such patients can still enjoy a very positive outcome.