If you are considering getting braces for yourself, or possibly your child, then it is important to make sure that you understand them. There are many nuances to braces, including who can get them and who should not, the many types of braces, and the expectations you should have if you get them. These are all important things to know before ever going in to see an orthodontist, since then you can ask any remaining questions you have directly to the person who would be helping you straighten your teeth. Here are some of the most important things to know.

The Components of Braces

Traditional braces are made up of a few different parts. There is the bracket, which is the metal piece affixed to your tooth. Then there are the bands, which are typically only put on the back teeth as a way to hold the wire in place that is going to manipulate each of the brackets. Up until just a few decades ago, many of the teeth, sometimes even all of them, wore bands as a way to force movement and change, but that is no longer the case. Of course, there is the wire. This is held on to the brackets with small rubber bands, and its size and shape will aid in the manipulation of your teeth to get them going the direction they are supposed to go. They start off quite loose and flexible, and become more rigid and tighter with time. Many of the bands also have a small tube on the outside of them where the metal ends of the patient’s headgear will go, as this will help add extra pressure to the teeth when they need to be moved backwards to make room for the front teeth to shift. While not all patients need headgear, it can aid in the hastening of the manipulation of teeth for those that need it.

The Types of Traditional Braces

Aside from the plain metal braces that most people associate with middle and high school, there are also a few other materials that braces can be made out of. The first material is plastic. These are created in the same shapes and for the same purpose as metal braces, but are clear. Even the wires are clear. This helps make them less noticeable in the mouth of the person going through the tooth straightening process. However, these are highly likely to stain and break, and have been known to damage the tooth’s enamel upon removal, so they are not used as often currently as they used to be.

However, an aesthetically pleasing alternative has come into the picture: ceramic braces. The brackets are made of ceramic, making them easy to blend into the natural look of the tooth. They are still slightly more breakable than metal braces, but they are quite a bit stronger than plastic. They hold up to wear and tear a bit better, and are less likely to stain. This material is growing in popularity, especially among the adults that want to go through the tooth straightening process. Ceramic braces are said to be a bit slower than traditional braces, but some people would rather deal with a slow change than a mouth full of metal.

There are a few drawbacks to ceramic braces as well, such as the damage they can do to teeth that rub against them. If you have teeth that hang over and hit the ceramic brackets, it can cause permanent damage to the tooth, and could even impact the strength of the bracket’s bond with your tooth. This can be averted by using metal brackets on the teeth that would touch the ceramic, leaving no ill effects on the teeth after the braces are removed. The wires with ceramic brackets also tend to be a bit more brittle due to the friction with the ceramic, but some braces have found a way around that issue. They started putting slight bits of metal inside the brackets to allow the wires to stay off of the harsh ceramic surface.

How Braces Relocate Your Teeth

When braces are put on teeth, and the wires applied, they move the teeth around by pulling at the roots. Pulling on the actual tooth is not actually going to do much, as the root of the tooth is what needs to be relocated for a straighter smile. It’s not as simple as pulling a tooth through soft tissue, the entire jaw bone that is holding your teeth has to be realigned and changed to allow for movement of the teeth, and remodeling after the tooth has gotten into its final resting place. And since the root of the tooth does not have an opening to be able to hold a bracket, the surface of the visible tooth must be used. As the pressure is applied, the bone cells of the jaw, remove old bone around the root of the tooth, and replace the gaps behind the tooth with new bone. The delay between the pressure of the wires and brackets and the actual movement of the tooth allows for alterations to be made before the tooth comes to a stop in its new location. The process or removing old bone cells and rebuilding new ones takes a bit of time, but it allows for each tooth to start off slow then speed up as the bones begin to remodel.

At first, each tooth moves slowly, but after a week or two, the teeth speed up in their transitions, so there are often a lot of changes made to the wires during this phase to maximize the movement while there are open gaps in the jaw bone. The wires used on the braces will get shorter, putting more pressure on your braces, and the wires will also get thicker, putting more tension on your teeth as they shift into place. You will likely notice that when you first see the orthodontist, your appointments are a month or two apart, but as your teeth begin to shift more rapidly, you may be seeing your orthodontist as often as every 3-4 weeks. They will have to make regular adjustments with the teeth in order to make sure that your teeth don’t shift too far the wrong direction, leaving them having to correct their correction.

How Long Braces Will Take to Move Your Teeth

There is no simple answer to this. Every mouth is going to be different. Some people will need minimal work, while others will need quite a bit more. Some teeth will remain stubborn and slow, while others will rocket into place with very little pressure or time. You also need to factor in your ability to tolerate the changes going on in your mouth. If you are in next to no pain, the process can be faster than if your mouth is always sore and your treatment must be slowed down to accommodate this pain. Your orthodontist will be able to give you a pretty good idea on how long to expect the entire process to take, but once your braces are on and your teeth are moving, he or she may have to change that timeline.

You also have to figure in the type of bite you have when trying to determine how long you are likely to have braces. Consider the three main types of occlusion, or bite types. What is known as a Class I Occlusion is where your teeth are pretty close to where they should be. The top teeth rest on, or just over, the bottom teeth. The only thing you need done is likely fixing some straightening or spacing corrections.

A Class II Occlusion is where you have an overbite. In this case, the top jaw is significantly forward of the bottom jaw, and the bite overall is misaligned. Finally, a Class III Occlusion is where you have an underbite, to where the bottom jaw juts forward and is in front of the top jaw. Each of these two bites will require more time in braces for most people, since the jaw will have to be shifted further into place before the straightening can take place. There is also the overjet to consider, or how far apart your top and bottom teeth are from front to back. If you have ever seen someone with buck teeth, you are looking at someone with an extreme overjet. There are also some people whose teeth do not actually touch when they close their jaw, and this would be called an open bite. An open bite also will affect the length of time braces are required for optimal tooth straightening.

Getting braces is a life-changing experience. You will end up with a beautiful, straight smile that you can show off to the world. It doesn’t matter if you prefer the old-fashioned look of metal braces, or if you like the camouflaged look of plastic or ceramic braces. The end result is the same, and the confidence that smile will offer is priceless!

If you are interested in finding out more about braces, give Progressive Dental Care of Hanover a call and let us help you set up your appointment!

250 Fame Ave Ste 206
Hanover, PA 17331
PHONE 717-637-0202
Monday ............... 8:30 AM - 5 PM
Tuesday ............... 8:30 AM - 5 PM
Wednesday .......... 8:30 AM - 5 PM
Thursday ............. 8:30 AM - 5 PM
Friday .................. 8:30 AM - 4 PM