Braces are applied to teeth for various reasons, including poorly aligned jaws, crooked, crowded and missing teeth, or a bad bite (also called malocclusion).
Various things can cause teeth to become crooked or jaws misaligned, including thumb-sucking or a traumatic injury. Some conditions are inherited.
Children between the ages of 7 and 14 are typical candidates for braces because their facial structures are still developing. Adult braces usually entail additional procedures because their faces have already fully developed.
Orthodontics is a field of dentistry that deals with corrections involving jaw and teeth alignment. An orthodontist is a specialist who diagnoses and applies braces.
Braces employ the use of wires and are usually one of three types:
- Old-fashioned, conventional braces, which employ the use of metal strips, or bands.
- Metal or plastic brackets that are cemented or bonded to teeth.
- Brackets that attach to the back teeth (also called “lingual” braces).
Orthodontic procedures, also called “orthodontia,” are complex processes.
In most cases, a dentist will need to make a plaster cast of the individual’s teeth and perform full X-rays of the head and mouth.
After orthodontic appliances are placed, they need to be adjusted from time to time to ensure that they continue to move the teeth into their correct position.
Retainers are used following braces to ensure that teeth remain in position.