Braces are used to help correct your bite or to correct how teeth are aligned in your mouth. Braces may be recommended if your teeth are crowded together, crooked or protruding. They can also be helpful in correcting problems when your upper and lower jaws don't meet properly. If your teeth are not aligned properly you may experience problems flossing and brushing which can lead to cavities, decay and gum disease. A misalignment could make speaking and chewing food more difficult. You might even feel self-conscious about your smile.
Using braces to correct the problem can result in better oral health for your mouth and a better smile for you. Patients usually get braces during their teen years as their mouth is gaining its adult shape. Many teens even opt for brackets in different colors or shapes to draw attention to their braces. On the other hand, braces now can be less noticeable; so many adults are opting to have their teeth realigned as well.
There are two basic types of braces available. Those which are affixed onto your teeth and can only be removed by a dentist are called fixed braces. Those which you can remove yourself are called removable braces. These come in a number of styles:
Traditional metal-wired braces
Gold-plated stainless steel braces for those who are allergic to the nickel in traditional metal braces
Lingual braces which are bonded to the back of the teeth
Titanium braces which are lighter and stronger
Clear removable aligners, such as Invisalign, which are generally not used for complex cases.
You may need to wear some type of orthodontic appliance in conjunction with your braces to widen your palate or reshape your jaw as your teeth are being realigned. Most patients wear their braces for one to three years, depending on the amount of correction required. After the active adjustment period is completed, you may need to wear a retainer for a few more years to hold the newly-realigned teeth in place. Choose an orthodontist who will advise you on the various types of braces available and help you choose the option which best meets your dental and lifestyle needs.
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