For patients with overcrowded teeth, traditional braces offer an effective alignment solution, using metal or ceramic and elastics. The system allows your orthodontist to make finer adjustments, spacing teeth into their natural positions more gradually. Patients living with malocclusion or a misaligned bite due to thumb sucking, physical trauma or tooth loss are good candidates for this procedure.
Patients who forego traditional braces may experience dental issues later on, such as tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, excessive wear, jaw pain, speech and chewing issues. Traditional braces are recommended as soon as possible to correct these problems, preferably between the ages of 8 and 14.
How Traditional Braces Work
Braces feature small brackets attached to your teeth, connected with a single wire. During the time you have braces, your orthodontist periodically tightens the brackets, applying pressure to shift tooth and jaw placement.
Depending on the degree of adjustment needed, patients may have a set of metal braces for one to three years. This period is followed by a retainer, which helps the teeth stay in their new positions. Patients usually wear the retainer daily for six months, then only at nighttime.
During the initial appointment with an orthodontist, you will be asked about your oral health. The doctor will then perform an exam and take a digital scan of your face, teeth, mouth and head. These images help form your treatment plan, which could involve surgery to correct an extreme underbite or overbite. In other cases, your dentist may recommend external appliances for nighttime use.
Once the braces are in place, you will have monthly follow-up appointments for minor adjustments to the wires, rubber bands or springs.
Types of Braces
Modern orthodontics offer a variety of traditional braces styles, including metal, self-litigating, ceramic and lingual braces. Learn more about each type.
The most common type, metal braces have been modified over the years to use less material and feel lighter in the mouth. High-grade stainless steel wires connect the brackets, which are attached with cement to each tooth. An archwire applies force to each tooth, causing them to move into the desired position. The bits of elastic or rubber, called O-rings, connect the archwire to each bracket.
Similar to the standard metal setup, self-litigating braces do not use O-rings. Instead, a clip or slide mechanism attaches the archwire to the brackets, lessening the amount of pressure placed on each tooth and the friction it creates. This setup tends to require fewer adjustments, is easier to clean and requires less follow-up appointments.
While they look like metal, ceramic braces tend to be less visible because of the clear or enamel-colored brackets used. Ceramic braces can be made even less conspicuous by using near-transparent or tooth-colored wires. Generally, orthodontists recommend this braces option to adults.
While brackets typically go on the outside of each tooth, lingual braces place them on the inside with a connecting wire. As such, they are relatively hidden and customized to the shape of your mouth.
After adjustments are made, some patients may experience a small amount of discomfort. If you notice the sensation is not subsiding, don’t wait for your next appointment. We see emergencies same-day!