Braces 411

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We all want that perfect smile and straight teeth are a great place to start. If you’re considering braces for you or your child, you may be wondering how they work. So, here are the basics you should know

 

How do braces work?

Braces apply continuous pressure over a period of time. This slowly moves teeth in a specific direction, and as the teeth move, the bone changes shape as pressure is applied.

 

Components of braces

Braces contain three major parts.

 

Brackets — These are made from a variety of materials and are bonded to each tooth with a special adhesive.

Wire — This is a thin piece of metal that is threaded into hooks or doors on the brackets. Your orthodontist will change the shape and curvature of the wire to move your teeth in the desired direction.

Elastic — If you need your bite corrected, the elastic is essential. It is strung between a hook on an upper bracket and a hook on a lower bracket. This will either pull your upper jaw backward to help fix an overbite or the lower jaw backward to correct an underbite.

 

How long do you have to wear braces?

This will vary from person to person and depends on the severity of the problem. But on average, braces will usually remain in place for one to three years. After braces are removed, most patients will need to wear a retainer at all times for six months, then only during sleep for several years.

 

How often will I need to see the orthodontist?

Your orthodontist will want to see you about once every month to make sure the braces are exerting steady pressure. During your visits, your orthodontist will make adjustments in the wires, springs, or rubber bands of the braces to create more tension. If braces aren’t enough to shift your teeth or jaw, headgear might be required at night.

 

Care after braces come off

Your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned once your braces are removed. Your orthodontist might want to take X-rays and bite impressions to see the final results. This is also when you’ll be fitted and given instructions for a retainer. And now that your teeth are nice and straight, you’ll want to make sure you continue to brush twice daily and floss every day to maintain the health of your new smile.

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