Dental braces

Dental braces (orthodontics)

What are dental braces?

Dental braces are devices that are used to move teeth or adjust the underlying bone. They are used to straighten crooked teeth, relieve pressure on joints in the mouth and align the upper and lower jaw.

My three-year-old still sucks his thumb. Will he need braces because of this?

It is hard to say. Sucking the thumb (or fingers and soothers) probably won’t cause any problem unless it continues after the age of six, when the child’s permanent teeth start to grow. If sucking continues during this period, permanent adverse changes to the teeth will result, such as protruding front teeth.

However you should try to wean your child off their sucking habit as soon as possible, because it can lead to a number of problems in children, such as an overbite (the upper and lower front teeth do not meet).

What kind of braces will I need?

Braces can be either removable or fixed. The kind of brace you require will depend on your particular problem. Your dentist will decide the best route for you or you may be referred to an orthodontist (a specialist in straightening teeth).

If your brace is removable, ensure that you follow the dentist’s orders on when to wear it, otherwise the results may be poor.

Fixed braces, often referred to as train tracks, are attached to the molars and bonded to the enamel of the front teeth. They cannot be removed by the patient. In some more serious cases, headgear is required to keep the upper jaw back as the lower jaw grows to catch up.

Do braces hurt?

There may be some discomfort, especially in the beginning. You may feel some pressure on your teeth and parts of your mouth may be scraped by the brace.

How long will I have to wear braces?

This differs for everyone, depending on the problem. You may have to wear a brace intermittently over a number of years, or for one continuous period. Treatment usually takes two to three years.

What about oral hygiene?

Oral hygiene is extremely important at this time. Because of the difficulty in cleaning, the patient will be taught how to clean both the brace and their teeth properly. An electric toothbrush, as well as normal brushing, is usually recommended. Flossing is also essential.

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