If you have crooked or misaligned teeth (either an overbite or an underbite), there are a variety of different treatments that can help to straighten your teeth. It is important to correct an abnormal bite because, if left unattended to, it may cause one or more of the following conditions:
- tooth decay
- gum disease
- tooth loss
- affected speech and/or chewing
- jaw problems
- abnormal wear of enamel
One of the most common treatments for misaligned teeth is to have braces fitted.
Dentist or orthodontist?
Most general dentists can do basic realignment, but an orthodontist specialises in correcting irregularities in teeth. Your dentist will inform you as to whether he or she can correct your misaligned teeth or whether you need to see an orthodontist.
What’s the best age to get braces?
There is no ‘best’ age to have braces fitted. For children, the ideal time is somewhere between the ages of 10-14 when a child’s mouth and head are still growing. The ideal age for braces depends entirely on a child’s growth. Braces can also be effective in both older teenagers and adults.
During an oral examination, impressions of your teeth will be made and photographs of both your face and inside your mouth will be taken. X-rays of your mouth and head will also be ordered. Once all of this information has been analysed, a treatment plan will be discussed with you.
How are braces fitted?
Initially, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned and dried. The next step involves applying bonding glue to your teeth, which allows the braces to stick to them. Brackets will then be adhered directly onto your teeth and an archwire will then be threaded through them to join them. Finally, elastic bands will secure the braces.
How long will I have to wear braces for?
The period of time you will have to wear your braces for really depends on how much adjustment is required. In general, it takes anywhere between 12 to 24 months for your teeth to be realigned.
Will braces be painful?
Given the fact that your teeth are being gently realigned, it is common to feel some mild pain or discomfort. This occurs most commonly when your braces are tightened during visits to your orthodontist. Some over-the-counter pain medications can help ease the pain. If you experience a lot of discomfort, talk to your orthodontist about it and he or she may be able to make some changes in how your braces are adjusted.