The area of dentistry called orthodontics involves straightening of teeth with the use of braces. Orthodontics is also indicated when the patient has a bad bite, which can cause digestive or other health problems and make the patient feel self-conscious. Braces are less conspicuous and more comfortable than ever before, due to the use of new high performance arch wires, which exert continuous, light force on the teeth. Children should have an orthodontic assessment before the age of five so that early treatment with functional appliances can reduce the time spent wearing braces.
The average length of time for orthodontic fixed braces would be 1.5 to two years when all the permanent teeth have erupted. The treatment time obviously depends on the seriousness of the problem and when treatment is started. Our office recommends that children be evaluated before age five to see if the problem is a bone problem or a tooth problem. If the problem involves the bone, such as the upper or the lower jaw being too narrow or the lower jaw being underdeveloped, then we recommend this problem be treated immediately with functional appliances. The use of functional appliances can reduce the time the child must wear fixed braces and reduce the need for the extraction of permanent teeth. If the problem is merely crooked teeth, many times treatment will be delayed until all the permanent teeth erupt.
Most patients today think braces are ‘cool’ because of all the different colours. In fact, there are more that 40 different combinations of coloured elastics, which fit over the braces to keep the wires in place. Every month the patient has their choice of coloured elastics. Most children pick the metal braces, which are much smaller today. Adults and teenagers prefer the clear braces because they blend in with the colour of the teeth and are harder to see. We have some females who prefer gold braces since they look like jewelry. The newest and latest trend is toward invisible braces, which use trays that are changed periodically and move the teeth into a better position.
You will be provided with a clear retainer to wear when your braces are removed. The roots of the teeth need enough time to settle in the bone, so it is absolutely imperative that you follow the instructions on wearing the retainer to maintain your beautiful smile at the end of treatment.
The length of time for retainers varies depending on the amount of tooth movement that was necessary. However, as a general rule of thumb, we recommend full-time wear of the upper clear retainer for one full year followed by one year of night-only wear. We generally like to make the lower retainer fixed, behind the lower front teeth, and to leave it in place for three to five years.