By Dr Yannopulos · Published November 5, 2018

How do braces work and how to care for them?

How do braces work and how to care for them? preview image

Preview image for How do braces work and how to care for them?

Correcting the position of teeth and ensuring that they are properly aligned is what braces do. This is usually done during the teenage years but adults also wear braces to correct their bite and to make their smiles more attractive.

Braces offer active support to teeth which is something that are needed for many children when they are actively growing. There are a lot of changes that happen during this time in terms of overall development. Oral development also happens in a major way.

Dental issues or concerns that are usually seen are crooked teeth or misaligned teeth with over bite or under bite issues. Some conditions are quite severe where dental surgery may be needed to correct them.

How do braces support teeth?

Braces are prosthetic devices for support placed in the oral region to help move teeth to their correct position and align them in an aesthetic manner. Braces exert constant pressure to the teeth. This pressure is firm but gentle, and over a period of time it helps in slowly moving the teeth to the desired position.

Orthodontic treatment is done by a specialised dentist who will decide on the type of braces and how long they are to be worn. As the pressure is insistent, there would be a change in the position of teeth. When this happens, the braces are adjusted so that the continued pressure is still applied till the dentist is satisfied by the final placement of the teeth.

Some braces are seen as small brackets placed on the front of the teeth and help in providing the pressure required. Some others will have arch-wires attached to the brackets and provide support. Some of the wires are attached to the end of the teeth for proper strength and tension.

If it is required that upper and lower teeth be aligned, then elastic bands are used. These bands help to provide force to the upper teeth against the lower teeth to achieve a flawless fitting of teeth.

Braces need to be worn for a long period of time – probably even a few years. The reason for this time frame is because of the natural effect they produce. Pressure is applied to the teeth – but it cannot be applied suddenly since that will be difficult for the client. A small amount of pressure needs to be applied constantly.

Depending on how crowded the teeth are different types of braces are suggested by the dentist. How they should be worn and how frequently they should be monitored are all based on the individual requirements of the client. After the teeth are in their required position, the dentist may suggest removal of some teeth in case they appear overly crowded.

Caring for braces

When using braces it is important that extra care and attention is paid to keeping teeth and gums clean and healthy.

Food debris can get stuck between the braces, so keeping them clean is of crucial importance. But that does not mean it has to be cleaned with force, instead it must be treated carefully – if strong force is applied, then there are chances that braces may get damaged.

It is not just the cleaning that one must be careful about – food habits also need to be monitored when braces are worn. Generally, dentists will advise those who are wearing braces on the types of food they should avoid. Sticky and chewy food and food that is hard in like hard-shelled nuts etc. should be avoided.

Sticky food will stick to the braces and attract bacteria to act on the teeth. If it is hard food like nuts then the pressure applied to the braces when you bite on to the food can damage the braces, or even break them.

Another matter that needs to be remembered with regard to food habits is that some strongly coloured food can stain the teeth. Though while wearing braces this staining is not that evident, once they are removed the teeth which are stained will be easily noticed. So it is important to stay away from or reduce the food that can cause staining in the teeth. Some food can also easily the dental enamel. Eroding of dental enamel can pave the way for teeth decay.

Children who are wearing braces must be given support and help from the parents. They need guidance on how to clean them and keep them germ free. In the case of adults, who are in the habit of constant snacking – then it is a must to clean after each snack break. Cleaning and rinsing away food with water will help clean away most of the food debris.

Flossing is also one good method to clean food particles that are stuck in between the teeth. Flossing must be done between spaces in the teeth and also under the wires. There is special floss available that is specially designed for this purpose.

Putting on braces is needed not only for aesthetic or cosmetic reasons, but also for oral hygiene and health. Overcrowded teeth are difficult to clean even if one follows a strict habit of brushing and flossing. Food particles can get stuck in between the teeth and bacteria can act on it easily to bring about teeth decay. If teeth are aligned properly, then it helps with chewing of food and proper digestion.

In some cases, it has also been noted to help in the case of snoring. Braces are also known to have helped in the case of proper speech development. If teeth are in the correct position with no protruding teeth, then chances of injury happening during sports etc. will be minimal. Having teeth that are proportionate to the face and correcting bad bites are also some of the benefits that one would get from braces. As the benefits are profound to health and hygiene – it is important that skilled and experienced dentists are consulted should there be a need to wear braces.