Malaligned or malpositioned teeth can be unattractive, physically and emotionally painful and keep a person from being able to SMILE, bite, chew and speak well. The appearance of teeth may be what prompts people to have their teeth straightened.
Children should have their first orthodontic consultation around 7 years of age. Some children may be candidates for early treatment.
Braces are the treatment of choice for many patients. They are made up of tiny brackets glued to teeth and thin wires, called archwires, which sit in slots of brackets. It's the wires that actually move the teeth. Archwires are adjusted periodically to help guide teeth and jaws into ideal positions. Metal brackets are used most often. Some older teens or adults may want a less noticeable option and may select ceramic brackets.
There can be some discomfort associated with braces or other appliances. After they are first placed, teeth may feel sore. There may be some irritation of the cheeks as the patient adjusted to braces in the mouth. This is usually temporary. Discomfort can usually be managed well with over-the-counter pain relievers and softer foods. Orthodontic wax can cover a bracket or wire causing irritation. The mouth adjusts relatively quickly. There might be some temporary soreness after an adjustment of wires. Soreness is a good sign. It means teeth are moving.
After active orthodontic treatment ends, many patients get retainers. Often, they will receive fixed retainers which are permanently glued. Retainers are an important part of orthodontic treatment as braces. They help hold teeth in their new positions while new bone forms around the teeth.