Braces are used to straighten and align crooked and misaligned teeth, or to correct jaw alignment. There are two types of orthodontic appliances that help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted: removable orthodontics, which can be taken out of the mouth for cleaning, and fixed orthodontics, which are attached to your teeth. Dr Vikash Makan believes in early orthodontics as this can eliminate the need for extractions in the future
If you have misaligned or crooked teeth or an overbite or underbite, removable orthodontic appliances such as retainers, bite plates, expanders and activators will be the first step towards correcting the issue.
A retainer is made from plastic or wire and holds your teeth in their true position. Occasionally a retainer will be given to you before you have braces fitted but they are most commonly worn after you have them removed to make sure that your teeth stay in position whilst the bones adapt.
If you have an overbite or underbite you will need to wear a bite plate which will correct the issue before you receive braces. Bite plates are generally made from acrylic and wire, as are expanders which widen the upper jaw so your upper and lower teeth can align correctly. Activators are also used to correct problems with jaw alignment, overbites, and underbites and are made from a single, flexible piece of plastic. These can be used at an early phase of the treatment.
Fixed orthodontics are probably better known to most people as braces and are worn to straighten teeth and correct overbites and underbites. Braces consist of a number of different parts and are always designed especially for you so that they fit your mouth perfectly. When having braces fitted your orthodontist will bond brackets to your teeth; these brackets are made from plastic, metal or porcelain and will hold the rest of your braces in place. Once the brackets are fitted arch wires will be attached – these will guide your teeth into their correct position. Attached to the arch wires are springs which work to push, pull or otherwise encourage your teeth into the position dictated by the wires. Finally small rubber bands are attached to the brackets and align the upper and lower teeth by applying pressure on them so that they move into place.
If your upper molars also need moving to make more room for overcrowded teeth headgear might also be used. This comprises of a head and jaw strap which connect to the braces. Braces are not an overnight solution and are typically worn for one to three years with periodical adjustments – however they are a long term solution that will leave you wishing you’d got them years ago.