Orthodontics is the dental specialty that focuses on the
development, prevention, and correction of irregularities
of the teeth, bite, and jaws. Orthodontists also have
specialized training in facial abnormalities and
disorders of the jaw. A patient may consult an
orthodontist after receiving a referral from his/her
general dentist -- recommending orthodontic treatment to
improve the patient's physical "orofacial"
appearance. However, the American Dental Association
recommends that every child receive an orthodontic
evaluation by the age of seven.
Any orthodontic problem may be classified as a
malocclusion, or "bad bite." The following
problems may be helped or minimized with proper
- misaligned, crooked,
or crowed teeth
- missing teeth
- extra teeth
- an overbite
- an underbite
- misaligned or
incorrect jaw position
- a disorder of the jaw
At what age do
braces become appropriate?
Moving and correcting the alignment of the teeth follows
the same biological and physical process no matter what
the age. However, an adult mouth must overcome
already-positioned facial bones and jaw structure. Thus,
overcoming most types of malocclusions may require more
than one type of orthodontic treatment for adults. In
most cases, the ideal age for braces, and other
orthodontic treatments, is between 10 and 14 years of
age, although, persons of any age can benefit from
What are the
different types of braces available?
Braces, also called fixed orthodontic appliances,
generally come in three varieties:
- brackets, metal or
plastic, clear or tooth-colored, that are bonded
- lingual-type brackets
that attach to the back of teeth, hidden from
- bands that cover most
of the teeth with metal bands that wrap around
All three types use wires
to move the teeth to the desired position.
Oral health care
The following recommendations will help to
eliminate, or reduce, any oral health problems while your
teeth are in braces:
- Brush your teeth
carefully after every meal with fluoride
toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, as
food becomes easily lodged in the braces.
- Floss daily between
the teeth and the braces.
- Maintain every 6
month cleanings by an oral health professional.
- Limit your sugar and
starch intake, as debris left behind from these
types of foods may turn into damaging acids,
which, in addition to promoting plaque formation,
may also be harmful to teeth and gums.
- Avoid hard and/or
sticky snacks that may be difficult to remove
from the orthodontic equipment in your mouth.
This includes foods such as popcorn, hard or chew
candy, caramel, and/or nuts.