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Your Questions Answered About Braces

Here are the answers to five common questions about the implications of having braces.

Does having braces affect the way I talk?
Standard braces don’t normally affect how you talk or the sound of your voice. Sometimes, you may find it difficult for the first couple of days but then you will be able to talk fine.

Are there any activities that I should avoid when I have braces?
You can continue to do most things such as enjoying sports and playing musical instruments. For some sports, you should wear an orthodontic mouth guard. It is also best to avoid activities where you could suffer a lot of blows to your mouth such as boxing or karate.

Does having braces affect what I eat?
You can continue to eat most foods when you wear braces. In the first few days, you would probably be advised to stick to softer foods.

After that, you may need to be careful with hard or sticky foods like caramel and some nuts. You want to make sure the food does not stick on your braces or pull them off your teeth.

In addition, chewing gum is usually not recommended. Some sugar free gums have been reported as causing less problems but talk to your orthodontist if you want to be able to chew gum.

Can the braces come off?
This can happen and it is usually not a major problem. Your orthodontist will attach them again. If it happens a lot, some larger adjustments may be needed.

What happens if a piece comes off and I swallow it?
This is quite rare but it is usually not a major problem. Any parts that you swallow should just pass through your digestive system.

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Why Modern Teenagers Need Braces

Many teenagers wonder why they need to wear braces.

Is it all about cosmetics or is there something more important?

Back in the days of the cave men, teenagers were only two or three feet tall.

But over the last 10,000 years, people have got bigger. While our mouths have got a little bigger, our teeth got a lot bigger.

As a result, teeth no longer fit correctly into most people’s mouths.

While improving your smile is a great reason for getting braces, there are more important problems that can arise if you don’t deal with crooked teeth.

Digestion Problems: If your teeth are not straight, you will not be able to chew your food correctly and this can lead to stomach problems

Dental Problems: If you don’t deal with crooked teeth early on, your teeth will be hard to clean, and you will face gum problems and greater wear on your teeth.

Breathing problem: As you get older the roof of your mouth can sometimes partially block the air passages in your nose making you snore loudly. The risk of this can be reduced by having braces.

Truth is about 70% of teenagers need braces and therefore having braces will not make you feel different to most of your friends.

Why Adult Orthodontist Treatment is Different

One reason orthodontic treatment for adults is different is that, when you are older, it is harder to enlarge your mouth to get all of your teeth to fit.

When you are growing, your jaw is more flexible and the orthodontist can stretch your mouth so everything fits.

However, after you finish growing, your jaw hardens and it becomes difficult for an orthodontist to stretch it.

While you can have your jaw enlarged surgically, most adults opt to have their teeth straightened without this step.

This may mean you need to have some teeth removed to make everything fit. This may not have been necessary if the treatment had been done when you were still growing.

However, there are many benefits in having orthodontic treatment at any age.

In adult life, it can help your digestion and your general health as well as preventing dental problems.

The main difference is that orthodontic treatment when you are older can be a bit slower and even slightly more painful than for younger patients.

Why Orthodontic Treatment Does Not Work for All Adults

While a surprising number of adults benefit from orthodontic treatment, not all adults can take advantage.

It can depend on how well you have looked after your teeth and gums.

For example, gums may have receded so much that orthodontic treatment is not an option or roots may be very shallow if they have not been cared for properly.

Although the state of your mouth may mean that orthodontic treatment is not possible, the benefits of it can apply at any age and it is always worth checking the situation out with an orthodontist.

All orthodontists are trained how to treat adult patients but some specialize in this area.

An experienced orthodontist will know that adult treatment can take longer and may need to be more gentle than treatment earlier in life when someone is still growing.

Orthodontic services can be provided by any licensed dentist trained in orthodontics though most treatment is done by orthodontists.

A dentist must complete 2-3 years of additional training to earn a special qualification in orthodontics.

The Process of Getting Braces

If your doctor or orthodontist believes you need braces, they will start by examining your teeth visually.

They will then set up an appointment to take X-rays and make molds and impressions so that they have a clear record of how your mouth currently looks.

These records will help them establish the problem and what course of action to take.

A short time before you receive the braces, spacers are added into your mouth to make sure there is enough space for the bands.

An adhesive will be applied to the teeth to help the cement bond to the surface of the tooth.

In most cases the teeth will be banded and then brackets will be added.

The bracket will be applied with dental cement and light may be used and to help harden it. This may takes a few seconds for each tooth.

Molar bands may be needed to ensure the brackets stay in place.

Bands may also be needed if previous dental treatment such as fillings cause problems with attaching the bracket.

Once the brackets have been added, an archwire is threaded between them. This is fixed in place by ligatures, which may be elastic or metal.

Archwires are tightened frequently to help deliver the results required.

Brackets and or hooks may be added to the archwire for affixing the elastic.

Braces often use nickel-titanium archwires and temperature-sensitive materials. The archwire is flexible when cold and, when it is heated to body temperature, it stiffens and tries to retain its shape so this creates constant light pressure on the teeth.

There are now many different types of braces and the exact procedure may vary depending on the specific option you choose.

The Early History of Braces

You may think the desire for straight teeth is a feature of our modern image-conscious society.

But there is evidence going back hundreds of years of devices being used to straighten teeth.

Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains where there were crude metal bands wrapped around individual teeth.

And Roman tombs also revealed evidence of teeth being bound with gold wire.

Around 500BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle both talked about how to straighten teeth and fix various dental conditions.

Nevertheless, it was much later that significant progress was made in orthodontics.

In 1728, French Dentist Pierre Fauchard published a book called the “The Surgeon Dentist” with an entire chapter on ways to straighten teeth.

Scottish surgeon John Hunter wrote “The Natural History of the Human Teeth” in 1771, which described dental anatomy in clear detail and came up with terms in use today such as cuspids, incisors and molars.

While teeth straightening has been practiced since early times, orthodontics did not exist as a separate science until the mid-1800s.

The introduction of the wire crib in 1819 is seen as marking the birth of contemporary orthodontics although the term orthodontia was actually coined by Joachim Lafoulon in 1841.

In the late 1800s, Eugene Solomon Talbot was believed to be the first person to suggest using X-rays for orthodontic diagnosis.

But the real advancements in orthodontics came in the late 19th and 20th Centuries.

The Health Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontists are specially-trained dentists who can fix problem with bad bite, crooked teeth and misaligned jaws.

One of the main benefits orthodontic treatment is cosmetic – you get a great smile that makes you look and feel better.

But there are real health benefits of orthodontic treatment too:

You will be able to chew your food easier: Chewing is an important part of digestion. Having crooked teeth means you don’t chew your food properly and could end up with indigestion and other stomach problems.

You will have fewer dental problems: As crooked teeth are hard to clean, you could have more cavities and gum disease than people who have had orthodontic treatment. When your teeth are crooked there is extra stress on your teeth, gums and jaw which can lead to problems later on.

You have less risk of breathing problems: The roof of your mouth can sometimes partially block the air passages in your nose leading to breathing problems and snoring. Orthodontic treatment can reduce this possibility.

Some recent research suggests a link between oral bacteria and cardiovascular disease, where calcium in your mouth is dissolved and deposited in your arteries.

Orthodontics helps prevent oral infections which may have a direct effect on heart disease.

Orthodontics not only gives you a great smile, it can lead to a healthier, happier and longer life.