Dental Braces

Rockford Dentist - The Teeth People

Braces and orthodontic treatment are used to correct “bad bites,” or malocclusion (teeth that are crowded or crooked). In some cases your teeth may be straight, but your upper and lower jaws may not meet properly. These jaw or tooth alignment problems may be inherited or could result from injury, early or late tooth loss, or thumbsucking.

Straightening your teeth can be accomplished in different ways. The kind of orthodontic treatment you have will depend on your preference and the options provided by your dentist or orthodontist. Traditional braces realign teeth by applying pressure. They usually consist of small brackets cemented to your teeth, connected by a wire, which is periodically tightened by your dentist or orthodontist to gradually shift your teeth and jaw.

 

The brackets may be metal or tooth colored. Sometimes they are placed behind your teeth. Under the direct supervision of a dentist or orthodontist, removable aligners are another option for treating orthodontic problems.

How Do Braces Work?

Braces work by a slow and controlled process using force and constant pressure. For traditional braces, the wire that is attached to the brackets works to put pressure on the teeth to move to a specified direction.

Teeth move through a biomechanical process called “bone remodeling.” When braces put pressure on a tooth, the “periodontal membrane” and bone surrounding this tooth are affected. The periodontal membrane completely surrounds a tooth in its socket and it essentially helps anchor the tooth to bone.

 

With pressure from braces, the periodontal membrane of a tooth is stretched on one side and compressed on the other side. This effectively loosens the tooth out of its socket. The compressed side (the direction of pressure) is where bone is broken down to accommodate the new position of the tooth while the stretched side is where new bone is made. This process needs to be done very slowly and explains why wearing braces can take some time to achieve the desired results.

Why Would I Need Braces?

Dental braces offer corrective treatment for:
 

  • Overcrowded or crooked teeth
     

  • Too much space between teeth
     

  • Upper front teeth that overlap the lower teeth too much — either vertically (overbite) or horizontally (overjet)
     

  • Upper front teeth that bite behind the lower ones (underbite)
     

  • Other jaw misalignment problems that cause an uneven bite
     

Proper alignment of your teeth and jaws may improve not only the appearance of your teeth but also the health of your mouth and the way you bite, chew and speak.

Caring For Teeth With Braces

Braces, wires, springs, rubber bands, and other appliances can attract food and plaque, which can stain teeth if not brushed away. Most orthodontists recommend brushing after every meal or snack with fluoride toothpaste and carefully removing any food that may have gotten stuck in your braces. Some orthodontists will also prescribe or recommend a fluoride mouthwash, which can get into places in the mouth that a toothbrush can't reach. A waterpik or airflosser is also sometimes helpful to flush out stuck food.

How To Floss With Braces

To floss teeth if you have braces, feed the short end of the floss through the space between the main arch wire and the upper portion of the toothclosest to the gum. Use a gentle sawing motion to work the floss on each side of the two teeth the floss is between. Be careful not to pull with too much force around the arch wire. Begin brushing teeth by using a regular soft toothbrush. Brush down from the top and then up from the bottom on each tooth with braces.

 

Next, brush your teeth with a proxabrush or "Christmas tree" brush. This brush is specially designed for cleaning between two braces. Insert the brush down from the top and then up from the bottom between two braces. Use several strokes in each direction before moving on to the next space between two braces. Repeat the procedure until all teeth have been cleaned.

Foods To Avoid

While wearing braces, most foods can still be eaten if you cut them into small pieces that can be easily chewed. There are certain foods, however, that can break or loosen braces and should be avoided, such as:
 

  1. Hard or tough-to-bite foods, such as apples or bagels
     

  2. Chewy foods, such as taffy or caramels
     

  3. Corn on the cob
     

  4. Hard pretzels, popcorn, nuts, and carrots
     

In addition, do not chew ice or bubble gum.

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