Straighter Teeth for a Happier Smile!
Dental braces can be considered for their cosmetic effect, or for their ability to improve the function of the teeth and jaw structures. Braces consist of a series of brackets which are cemented to the enamel on the surface of each tooth and held in place using a metal wire skewered through the brackets called arch wires. Brackets can be made from metal, ceramic or plastic product. Orthodontic bands may be used to anchor the brackets in place. Depending on the degree of the concern, braces can be used for brief periods of 4-5 months but are typically worn for several years before being removed and maintained with a ‘retainer’ appliance for an additional treatment period.
Dental braces have been used for longer than you might expect. The discipline of orthodontics is credited to Pierre Fauchard who wrote the first book about using a mechanism made of iron to widen the dental arches in 1728!
Braces work by applying pressure to the teeth, ligaments and structural components of the mouth including the jaw bone and gingival tissue. The pressure slowly moves teeth in the direction of the applied pressure to slowly bring them into alignment.
The term ‘occlusion’ refers to the mechanics of a patient’s bite. When the bite is compromised, we refer to this as malocclusion. Your dentist or orthodontist classifies malocclusion as class I, II or III.
Class I – This refers to occlusion that is almost ideal. There can be some degree of crowding or spacing in the mouth but the crowding or spacing still allows a desirable relationship between the upper and lower arches of the teeth.
Class II – This classification refers to a condition known as ‘overbite’ wherein the lower first molars are positioned too far toward the back of the mouth resulting in a jaw that recedes toward the back of the mouth.
Class III – An underbite occurs as the first molars are positioned too far toward the front of the mouth, causing the jaw to be positioned too far forward.
There are many causes of crowding and spacing. Crowding can occur if the arch is too small for the size of the teeth, or if baby teeth did not fall out in a timely fashion. Spacing can result from a smaller jaw or smaller teeth. Spacing between the front teeth, made famous by Madonna, is professionally referred to as diastema.
Patients with crooked or crowded teeth may be put at increased risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease as a result. Teeth which are well aligned are much easier to clean and maintain than crowded teeth. The surfaces of crowded teeth are difficult to clean effectively, due to the limited spacing available for tooth bristles to reach. The result can be an overgrowth of plaque bacteria, leading to irritated gums and the eventual formation of plaque and increased potential for decay.
The application of braces may temporarily exaggerate limited access to crowded teeth, however, with patient compliance and regular follow up appointments these patients are likely to see a significant improvement in the ease of their oral hygiene routines. Once properly aligned, teeth provide stability to adjacent teeth, and their surfaces become more exposed and therefore more easily cleaned.
Cosmetic improvements in the alignment of the smile are only one reason that clients have chosen to install braces. While some alignment systems such as Invisalign® treatment provide the benefit of being unobtrusive, they are less likely to be suitable for complex cases of malocclusion. Metal braces are relied upon to correct complex malocclusion and can effectively improve presentation of:
Overbite – Positioning of the lower mandible (jaw) is too far back
Underbite – Positioning of the lower mandible is too far forward
Deep bite – Upper front teeth close too far over the lower teeth. Caused by a large top arch, missing bottom teeth, or a small lower mandible. Muscles of the jaw may play a role in deep bite.
Open bite – Front teeth do not meet when the jaw is fully closed. This can be a result of dental and skeletal development or may be habitual in nature (thumb sucking or other).
Cross Bite – Occurs when back teeth are laterally misaligned, either toward the outside of the mouth (the cheek) or the inside (tongue).
Dental braces may also be used to treat dental-related speech impediments, pain associated with temporomandibular disorder, bruxism (unconscious grinding or clenching of the teeth), periodontal disease and tooth decay.
It’s never too late to consider improving your smile! If you think that braces may be for you, we encourage you to book at appointment with our friendly staff to discuss your suitability. With a variety of modern techniques and technologies we are confident that we can enhance the function and appearance of your smile.