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Orthodontic Braces

 

Orthodontic braces, also referred to as dental braces are corrective appliances used by dentists. Orthodontists are dentists who have specialized and limited their practice to aligning teeth in collaboration with a persons bite. Braces are often times used to fix malocclusions such as crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, cross bites, deep bites and open bites, as well as various other flaws that involve the teeth and/or jaws. Braces can also help in the treatment of dental conditions such as temporal mandibular joint dysfunction, known as TMD.

Orthodontic braces are sometimes used in conjunction with other orthodontic corrective appliances that widen the jaws and palate. They used to be applied mainly to pre-teens and teenagers, but these days orthodontic braces have improved in technology and equipment. Less noticeable and more appealing braces can now benefit teens, adults and anyone who would like to correct their bite and the alignment of their teeth.

Types of Orthodontic Braces

In today’s world, there are numerous types of orthodontic braces that can be used on you, including:

Traditional braces - These braces are stainless steel and are the most common form used. They involve ties that hold an archwire in place, and self-tying brackets.

Clear braces - These are a cosmetic alternative to the traditional metal braces, as they blend in with your teeth more. Typically they are made of ceramic or plastic materials and function similarly to traditional braces.

Gold-plated braces - These braces are stainless steel and are oftentimes used on patients who are allergic to nickel or patients who prefer gold over silver.

Lingual braces - These are fitted behind the teeth, becoming invisible. They are said to be harder to adjust and prevent the tongue from freely moving.

Progressive, clear removable aligners - An example of these is Invisalign. Aligners are different than braces as they are usually not used for complex orthodontic situations. There are several companies that now provide aligners to dentist for their clients usage.

Spring aligners - These are less complex and less expensive than Invisalign and are generally used to correct the upper and lower front six teeth.

Complications of Orthodontic Braces

Even though most braces are used for beneficial purposes, such as improving ones bite or smile, there are risks and complications involved with them. For example, with traditional braces it’s much harder for people to brush and floss, especially behind and around the brackets and wires. Many times, especially with children wearing braces, these places are completely ignored during brushing and flossing. It’s very important for parents to make sure their children are cleaning these hard-to-reach areas. Built-up plaque is a major problem that doesn’t have to be left untreated until the orthodontic braces are removed (up to 1-6 years). Talk to your dentist about additional brushes and flossers made specifically for those wearing traditional braces.

Another common problem with braces is that mouth sores appear, generally along the inner cheek tissue. Many times, dental wax can be applied to prevent cutting of the tissues and gums.

Braces can also break. Mouth guards are recommended for patients who play sports or similar activities. Sticky foods such as taffy, carrots, and chewing gum can also damage or break the brackets and wires. Frequent damage to braces can prolong treatment for up to a year or more. Also, it is important to make sure that all other dental problems have been cared for, as it’s not healthy to move teeth if conditions such as periodontal disease is present.

Removal of the braces can be uncomfortable and cause bleeding, soreness, and sensitivity among the teeth and surrounding tissues. Wearing additional oral appliances, such as tongue rings or lip rings are not recommended while a patient is wearing dental braces. These devices can cause a metallic taste, and/or more commonly break the braces.

Also, retainers are given to the patient once the braces are removed and should be worn according to your dentist’s recommendation. However, some patients may need to wear retainers for the rest of your life to help keep the teeth aligned properly. Keeping your retainer is very important.

You can also expect to receive periodic x-rays of your mouth to ensure the treatment plan is going accordingly are making corrective changes during the period of orthodontics.

Orthodontic Braces Cost

There are several factors that will help determine the actual cost of your braces including dental insurance, the type of treatment, the duration of treatment, your orthodontist and his/her location, and any other restorative work that may need to be done in order to correct the problem. Generally, patients spend between $3,000 and $7,000 for orthodontic braces, from beginning to end. The age of the patient shouldn’t be a factor in the cost, unless the patient is electing to use a more expensive type of braces.

Page updated June 2012

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