What are dental braces? What do they do?

Dental braces, which are also called orthodontic braces are used to correct misalignment of teeth and help to straighten crooked teeth.

When are braces necessary?

Braces are necessary when one faces one or more of the following issues:-

  • Malocclusions ( When the upper jaw and lower jaw face misalignment while meeting)
  • Over bites (When the lower jaw is too far behind the upper jaw)
  • Deep bites (Upper teeth cover the lower teeth completely )
  • Cross bites (When a tooth is closer to the cheek or the tongue, in a different direction to the opposite tooth in the upper or lower dental arch)
  • Crooked teeth
  • Under bites (When the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth)
  • Overcrowding

What is the right age for braces?

Parents should consult an orthodontist about it. It is when the permanent growth of the child begins which is normally around the age of 7, the child can get braces. It is not necessary that the child will get braces right away, but it is a good option to get an orthodontist’s evaluation.

What are alternatives to braces?

The alternatives to braces include:-

#1 Invisalign (Invisible braces)

#2 Veneers

They are not braces but a thin layer of porcelain coloured tooth that replaces the original enamel of the tooth. It is used mainly in cases of chipped tooth, but can also be used in case of one or two uneven teeth to give you a perfect smile. However, these need to be replaced at some point of time.

#3 Smart Clip

It works like the traditional metal braces without the elastic bands and instead use small metal clips to secure the wire.

#4 Clarity braces

These too work like traditional metal braces but the braces are tooth coloured and hence less noticeable. However they are larger than the metal braces and you might need to wear them longer than the traditional braces.

What are the different types of braces?

The different types of braces are:-

  • Metal wired braces
  • Clear braces
  • Gold-plated stainless steel braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Titanium braces
  • Progressive, clear removable aligners ( Invisalign, Clear Correct)
  • Smart brackets
  • A-braces

Who provides braces treatment?

The orthodontists (different from the general dentists) provide braces treatment. Orthodontics is a type of dentistry that deals with the correction of misaligned teeth, over bites, malocclusions, under bites, deep bites, and straightening of crooked teeth.

What are the different types of Orthodontic treatment?

The orthodontic treatment comprises of Phase I and Phase II treatment.

  • Phase I treatment (Early treatment) – This is also known as “Interceptive Orthodontic treatment”. This treatment mainly begins at an early age (6-10 years) when the patient has both primary teeth (baby teeth) as well as is growing permanent teeth.
  • Phase II treatment – This is also known as “Normal Orthodontic treatment”. In this process the braces are placed on both the upper and lower teeth after the patient has grown all permanent teeth.

Is removal of teeth necessary in braces treatment?

No, it is not always necessary to remove teeth in braces treatment. 

Sometimes with the help of an expander, enough space is created, so as to not require removal of teeth. The younger the patient is, the less the likelihood of removal. However, in case of over-crowding removal of tooth or multiple teeth is necessary. In case of adults, removal of tooth or teeth is more likely. Each case is different and your orthodontist will guide you.

Are braces painful?

Braces usually cause soreness and discomfort when they are placed, which might last for a few days. The first few days will be uncomfortable as your mouth needs to get adjusted to the realignment process, the metal wires, elastic bands and all. Also, eating will be difficult and you might not be able to consume certain hard foods for quite a number of days. However, this discomfort and soreness will fade with time. Again, you will experience pain after braces tightening at your next appointments. You are advised to take regulated pain medication for the soreness.

What are the care guidelines while wearing braces?

The care guidelines while wearing braces include:-

  • Avoid consuming hard foods (Ice, nuts, bagels, chips, etc), sticky foods (chewing gums, toffees, etc), sugary foods which can decline your teeth health.
  • Do not bite your nails, or chew pencils, pen or any other objects.
  • Use lukewarm saltwater to gurgle when you feel pain and soreness after your appointment with your orthodontist.
  • Use all the appliances according to your orthodontist’s instructions
  • Use your mouth guard while playing sports
  • Brush your teeth at least three times a day.
  • Use floss and mouthwash
  • Regularly check your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets.

How long does one need to wear braces?

Normally, you might need to wear your braces for 1-3 years, followed by use of the retainer. The more the severity of your problem, the longer you need to wear your braces. Children usually have to wear braces for a lesser duration than adults. The duration of wearing braces also depends on how hygienic you keep your teeth.

What is a retainer? Why is it necessary after the completion of a treatment? What is the cost of a retainer?

A retainer is a custom made device used after an orthodontic treatment, so that the teeth can settle in their new positions and the gums might get well adjusted to them.  It is necessary as it helps the gums to adjust to the changes in the bone. The cost of a retainer ranges from Rs 3500-5000.

What is the cost of braces?

The cost of the braces depends on the type of braces you choose. While the metal braces’ cost ranges from Rs. 20000- 45000, the Ceramic braces (tooth-coloured braces) cost ranges from Rs. 30000- 65000.