Even though many of us see patients with braces almost every day, not everyone understands how they work and why they are so important. Braces can be used to pull your teeth back into your proper position when malocclusion, misalignment of the teeth, occurs.
Why Malocclusion Occurs
For the vast majority of patients, malocclusion is a hereditary condition that is passed down from parents to their children. Children are often born with slight deformations to their jaw, skull, or even the soft tissue in their mouth. Over time, these small changes to the layout of their mouth will result in an overcrowded smile or gaps in their teeth. Those that lose baby teeth prematurely or have untreated tooth loss as an adult can also develop malocclusion.
The Importance of Treating Malocclusion
Having teeth in the wrong position is much more than a cosmetic issue. When this condition is left untreated, almost all components of a patient’s mouth will be at risk of becoming injured. As the child grows up, the bones in which their teeth are anchored will become brittle and could potentially break. Untreated malocclusion can also result in chronic migraines, chipped teeth, and facial deformities.
Moving Teeth with Braces
Traditional metal braces are comprised of a few primary components including brackets, archwires, bands, O-rings and coils. The brackets are made of either ceramic or metal and are attached to specific teeth with a powerful adhesive. Archwires are attached to different teeth by looping over the brackets and are then held in place with the O-rings. The archwires are the component that applies vertical or horizontal pressure to the teeth depending on which direction they need to go.
The small amount of pressure that is applied to each tooth will slowly pull one’s smile into the correct position. After the initial tightening of the braces, some patients may experience minor discomfort that can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers. Depending on the type of braces that are used, the patient may need additional appointments every two to four weeks. During these appointments, the orthodontist will make small adjustments to the archwires to change the amount of pressure. This orthodontic treatment can last for anywhere from just a few months to three years or longer depending on the severity of the malocclusion.
Other Treatment Options
There are quite a few additional treatment options that can be used to realign teeth. Everything from invisible braces to Invisalign trays will pull teeth into the correct position, and each patient will need to speak with their orthodontist about the ideal treatment for his or her smile. Patients might also have the option of switching to plastic trays or retainers to shorten the amount of time that they must wear the braces.
At Runnels Orthodontics, our medical team will work with you to determine the safest and most effective orthodontic treatment plan for you or your child’s needs. Contact Runnels Orthodontics today to schedule your consultation.