Braces - 'Look A Little Ugly Today But Beautiful Tomorrow'
The word 'braces' brings to mind a 'pimply teenager' with a mouthful of wires. This need not be the case though, for increasingly beauty or personality conscious people are going in for braces. This treatment is technically referred to us orthodontic treatment. However some doubts persist as to whether all the pain in the mouth as well as to the purse is really worth it. That really is ultimately the judgment of the individual concerned for all a dentist can do is reassure the patient that his/her teeth and indeed the looks would be enhanced if the teeth were in proper positions and alignment with respect to the rest of the face. Braces are so designed so as to be able to slowly move the teeth to their right positions in the oral cavity in relation to their surrounding neighbors like the tongue, the lips, the cheeks and the palate
Need For Braces
Braces are not needed routinely is all the cases. Some children inherit a perfect set of teeth from their parents and some inherit a somewhat deformed set. The decision to be given braces should be taken early in adolescence once all the temporary teeth have fallen off and the permanent teeth appear. Look at the picture of the famous singer Celine Dion when she was a teenager and look at her face now to understand the value of braces. I am sure she had the best dentists work on her face.
There are certain conditions where braces are a must or at least a dental consultation is mandatory -
Teeth that are inclined either towards the lips or far away from them.
Teeth that are placed inwards towards the tongue.
Short lips, meaning that your upper lip does not meet the lower lip when at rest.
Lower jaw placed ahead of the upper jaw giving rise to the 'classical handsome looks' that most models die for, but this condition is technically not ideal.
Front incisor teeth placed too far apart, giving rise to gaps between them.
Crowded teeth - or teeth overlapping each other, most often seen in the lower jaw.
Cleft lip and cleft palate.
Timing Of The Treatment
This is most often the question that parents ask of dentists. Ideally, orthodontic treatment utilizes the growing period so as to harness the muscular forces to achieve the desired result. If this is taken into consideration, the ideal time for intervention is between -
- 14-18 years for girls
- 14-21 years for boys.
The difference is primarily due to the fact that the growing period for males extends upto 21 years, while it is 18 years for girls. This does not mean that older individuals cannot go in for braces. Almost anyone can opt for braces at any age, but the duration of the treatment is generally longer for older individuals.
Nature of the Treatment
Braces or Orthodontic treatment is usually either -
The fixed type of braces dominates among a large percentage of patients.
Removable appliances are given when minor corrections are required like tipping a tooth towards its neighbor or even the lips.
For conditions that cannot be adequately corrected by removable braces, fixed ones are advised. This again depends on the nature of the malocclusion prevailing in the mouth.
Fixed appliances are bale to deliver forces that are sustained over long periods of time unlike the removable ones.
Currently fancy wires called optical wires are in vogue. These wires conceal the fact that you are wearing braces since they mimic the colour of the teeth.
Duration of Treatment
This generally depends on the severity of the malocclusion, that is the number of teeth that are away from their ideal positions.
- Simple malocclusion - treatment lasts for about 6-8 months
- Complex cases - treatment requires 12 months
- In complex cases many teeth are crookedly placed and have to be extensively moved .
- Individuals over 25 years and above - the treatment lasts for about 18 months.
After this there is a period of retention where a holding appliance is given to make sure that bone forms around the teeth that are newly moved.
Problems and Foods to Avoid
The main problem during the initial days when braces have been placed is the difficulty in chewing.
It is advisable to avoid fine food like minced meat or mashed food for these get stuck in the braces making it very difficult for the wires to perform their task accurately.
Contrary to popular belief the wires in the mouth do not cause cancer. These wires are usually made of an alloy called Niti, Nickel and Titanium and are generally safe for use in the mouth.
Costs of Braces
The pricing varies from region to region depending on the number or dentists in the area as well as the presence of dental colleges in the area.
The costs are considerably lower in dental institutions. An approx estimate is as follows:
Government Dental Colleges - Relatively Free
Private Dental Colleges - Generally charge about Rs 6,000/- for the whole treatment.
Private clinics charge anywhere between Rs 8,000/- to Rs12, 000/-
1. Which Dental specialist should I choose if I need braces?
Ans. See a Dentist who has specialized in Orthodontics.
2. Will the wires prick my gums?
Absolutely not. These wires are only to be put on to your teeth rather than the gums and only move your teeth into the desired positions and do not prick your gems.
3. Will my teeth become loose after treatment?
To a degree, yes. The force on your teeth will move them through the hard bone and until new bone forms around the tooth roots, you'll feel as if the teeth are loose. However, this is no cause for worry as the strength will return once the new bone around it forms..
4. What is the ideal age to get the treatment done?
14-18 years for girls and 14-21 years for boys. These are the ages when the maximum growth occurs and dentists prefer to take advantage of this.
5. What should I do if a piece of the wire comes off?
No need to panic. This is normal given the fact that the wires are bathed in saliva at all times. Call your dentist, fix up an appointment and relax.
6. How should I brush my teeth during the treatment duration?
This is the most important step in the whole treatment. You have to keep your teeth as clean as possible. It will be difficult in the initial days and you will be given a special orthodontic brush, which will help you keep your teeth clean during this period.
Orthodontics: It is that branch of dentistry that is concerned with maintaining the balance of the face with respect to the teeth in the most acceptable manner to the patient as well as the dentist.
Malocclusion: A term describing the crooked arrangement of the teeth in the oral cavity. Even if a single tooth is out of line malocclusion occurs.
Cleft lip and palate: Developmental defects where the two halves of the lips and the palate fail to fuse.