Orthodontics - Metal Braces
Metal braces consist of metal wires and metal brackets. These brackets are glued to the front of your teeth. The wire is shaped into the ideal position of your teeth, then threaded through the brackets. As the wires struggle to get back to their original shape, they gradually pressure your teeth into that shape as well. Your orthodontist will tighten the wires every four to six weeks. You should see a nice, straight smile within two or two and a half years (though this time period can be shorter or longer, depending on the severity of your problem). Once your braces come off, you will likely wear a retainer for six months to a year to keep your teeth from shifting and your new smile in place.
Though braces are most commonly seen on children and adolescents—at these ages, bones are still growing, making it easier to shift teeth and jaws into place—they can be worn at any age. If you feel you (or your child) may be a candidate for braces, talk to your dentist. He or she can refer you to an orthodontist, a dentist specially trained in tooth movement and dentofacial orthopedics.
Braces can be unpleasant at times. Initially, the brackets can irritate the back of the lips (though you will get used to them within a few days). Braces require special brushing and flossing techniques, as food can collect around the brackets, causing bacteria buildup and bad breath. They can also hurt at times, especially immediately after wire-tightening visits to the orthodontist. This hurt, too, will go away in a day or two. Keep an eye out for the many, many people in the media and on the street who have worn braces. Their straight, beautiful, hard-earned smiles should motivate you to stick to your treatment.
Unlike other types of braces, such as Invisalign, metal braces can treat just about every type of orthodontic problem imaginable (though sometimes, in more complicated cases, they work alongside other procedures, such as tooth extraction or periodontal work). Their main drawback is their highly conspicuous appearance. Luckily, it's possible to make braces fun. Young orthodontic patients can spice up their "tin grins" with coloured elastics.
Orthodontists can colour-coordinate these elastics according to
themes (for example, red and white for Valentine's day, red and green
for Christmas) or to the patient's mood. These elastics can be changed
with each visit to the orthodontist, so the patient can look forward
to a new look every month. If you really cannot stand the thought
of a metal mouth, talk to your othrodontist about other options, such
as ceramic braces.