Braces are a way of correcting crooked teeth in the mouth. The other term for this process is Orthodontics.

What causes crooked teeth?

  • Early loss of baby teeth – If your child loses a tooth in an unnatural way, their back teeth will move forward. This creates a loss of space in the jawbone and gum. Unnatural ways to lose a baby tooth includes a hole in the tooth and accidents.
  • Not enough space in the gum – When their adult tooth tries to come through, there won’t be enough room for the tooth to erupt. It may erupt in an abnormal position or crooked position. This creates crowding in the mouth.
  • Incorrect Jaw growth – If the upper jaw and lower jaw don’t grow proportionately, you may get crooked teeth.  Sometimes the lower jaw grows larger than the upper jaw. In some cases, the lower jaw doesn’t grow as much as the upper jaw.
  • Large teeth and smaller jaw – If this is the case, there won’t be enough room for the teeth to erupt into their normal position. They will start to come through in crooked positions.
  • Large tongue  – If this is the case, the tongue will push the teeth out so they won’t align properly.
  • Thumb sucking – Thumb sucking will make the upper front teeth move forward and lower front ones move backwards. If a child sucks their thumb for a long time, their upper jawbone may also move forward.
  •  Genetics – In some cases, children may have an extra tooth. This will create a lack of space in the mouth.

Why should I correct crooked teeth?

  1. It can be difficult to brush as the toothbrush bristles won’t reach all tooth surfaces. This will lead to plaque buildup and cavities.
  2. The unremoved plaque near the gum margin will become tartar or calculus and lead to gum disease.
  3. If you do not remove plaque, bugs will grow on it. This will cause bad breath and cavities will form.
  4. If you have a deep bite, it is important to correct it with braces. Your front upper teeth may rub against the lower ones, and tooth surfaces will start to wear out. This will make them fragile, and they can even break or chip. It can also cause sensitivity, especially to cold drinks and food.
  5. If the top and bottom teeth are not aligned properly, you may experience difficulty chewing. The chewing pattern will change, leading to pain in the jaw joints (temporo mandibular joint).
  6. Some people may not be confident in showing their teeth and may feel embarrassed about their smile. Correcting this can improve your appearance, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Why does orthodontic treatment take a long time?

Braces slowly move teeth into specific directions and positions. This is a slow process and may take a few years.

If teeth are moved fast the nerve and blood supply to the tooth will be cut off. This can cause the pulp to become infected.

Young female showing her teeth after having braces treatment

If the tooth is infected, you will have a toothache or abscess, and you will need either root canal treatment or tooth extraction.

There is no age limit for orthodontics or braces treatment. The ideal age is between 10 – 14 years. During this age, almost all adult teeth have erupted, and it is easy to move them.

Usually, orthodontic treatment takes between 1- 3 years. The period will vary depending on each person. While it can be a slow process, the results are long-lasting.

Types of treatment available:

There are two main treatment options available.

  1. Fixed type of treatment:

There are various types of fixed appliances available. Braces are the most common type. Braces are temporarily glued to the teeth. There are other types of fixed appliances that are used to stop thumb sucking

 2. Removable appliance:

These devices can be used for minor corrections and a short period.

These appliances are removable, and you’ll need to remove them daily. You have to brush, clean them and put it back in your mouth twice a day. You will also need to remove and rinse them after each meal to keep your mouth and gums healthy.

What care do I need to take while having braces or orthodontic treatment?