Braces are a series of wires and brackets attached to the teeth. Through gradually increasing pressure, braces force a person’s crooked teeth to align correctly. Patients wear braces for an average of two and a half years, and visit their orthodontist for routine tightening at 3 – 4 week intervals.
This technique loosens the teeth in their sockets, forcing new bone to grow around the tooth to support it in its new position. This is why realignment must be a gradual process; if it were done quickly, the patient would be at risk of tooth loss.
Braces are often used in conjunction with other devices and procedures. For example, a patient might need to have some teeth removed before braces are applied in order to avoid overcrowding in the mouth. Most patients also require some type of retainer device after their braces are removed, to prevent their teeth from shifting position.
Traditional braces are typically made from a steel and nickel titanium alloy. Brackets are applied to the teeth and held in place with wire or elastic bands called “O rings.” A wire is threaded across the front of the top and bottom rows of teeth and secured. The orthodontist tightens this wire at regular intervals to achieve tooth realignment.
Clear braces are a more cosmetic alternative to traditional braces. They are made from ceramic, and can be clear or colored to match the patient’s tooth enamel. Clear or white O-rings are used to connect the archwires to the brackets. The effect is much more subtle than that of metal braces, but ceramic braces tend to be more brittle and difficult to work with.
Gold-plated braces are available for patients with metal allergies, or those who simply prefer the appearance of gold. These braces are made from stainless steel plated in 24K gold. While they are mechanically identical to traditional braces, patients can expect to pay more for them. Titanium braces are another alternative for patients with nickel allergies.
Lingual braces, sometimes called Incognito braces, are similar to traditional braces, but the brackets are fitted behind the teeth rather than in front. This renders the braces invisible to observers, making lingual braces a popular choice for actors and actresses, or anyone in the public eye.
Invisible, progressive aligners like Invisalign have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity. These systems use clear, custom-fitted trays molded to the patient’s teeth. The trays can be removed for eating and cleaning, then placed back over the teeth. Invisible aligners are hard to detect, but the process tend to take longer than regular braces. They also tend to cost more because the custom-fitted trays must be replaced as the teeth move.
Spring aligners are a more affordable alternative for patients who need mild to moderate realignment of their front teeth. These devices use coiled springs to apply steady pressure to the teeth, gradually forcing them into position.
Smart braces and smart brackets, also called self-ligating braces, are the latest achievements in orthodontic technology. A smart chip is used to determine the right amount of force to move the teeth. They do not require elastic rings to hold the archwire in place. Instead, a proprietary clip is used, reducing the amount of friction on the teeth and leading to faster results and less frequent visits to the orthodontist. Smart braces recently became available in clear ceramic.
A braces are another recent development in orthodontics. These braces are shaped like the letter “A.” They can be removed and adjusted by the wearer, causing less pain than traditional braces.
Orthodontists recommend having an evaluation between the ages of 8 and 14 to see if braces might be needed. Adults can also benefit from braces, but the procedure will probably take longer due to the strength of their teeth and bones.
Patients pay an average of $3,000 to $7,000 for their dental braces. The price can fluctuate greatly depending on the material and technique used. A person with severely crooked teeth might pay more than $10,000 for the entire Invisalign regimen. Consult with a licensed orthodontist to choose the best treatment for your individual needs.
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