Author: Ajaideep (AJ) Bassi
Braces are orthodontic appliances used to help correct cosmetic and functional problems associated with one’s teeth and jaws. These issues may include jaw problems, crowded or crooked teeth, a misaligned bite, or simply straightening teeth to improve the aesthetic appearance of a smile. Let’s learn more about the different types of braces, the common age to get braces, and what the timeline for having braces typically looks like!
Metal braces are most commonly used in practice to align a patient's teeth, but some can be made of ceramic or even clear plastic.1,3 Traditional metal braces are the original strong and durable fixed treatment of choice. Ceramic braces are similar, but are made of tooth-colored or clear ceramic brackets. Ceramic brackets are usually smoother and can be more comfortable to wear as they are not as abrasive as metal braces. Metal brackets are less prone to discolouration, whereas ceramic can easily get stained.
Generally, the best time to get braces is just before or during your teenage years because the head and mouth are more responsive to straightening and aligning movements. This is because the jaw bones and other tissues are still maturing alongside the treatment, leaving more room for adjustments if needed. Although this is the most ideal time, adults can get braces too, however, their course of treatment may slightly differ. For example, treatments may take longer because adult bones are no longer growing, which leaves less room to adjust the teeth. This may lead to a longer period of treatment to get the same effects as a younger patient.1,2,3 Moreover, the course of treatment for children often depends on their physical growth. Sometimes a child might need to wait for their teeth to come in before treatment as newly erupting teeth may interfere with treatment. It is also very important to have a stable oral condition with healthy gums and tissues. Therefore, we highly recommend a professional dental cleaning prior to initiating any form of fixed orthodontic treatment.
Everybody is different and some may require more than just braces to make the necessary corrections to their facial structure and teeth. Therefore, the duration of braces varies for everyone and depends on how out-of-position the patient's teeth and jaw are.1 It may take anywhere from six months to two-and-a-half years. The average person is treated for one-to-two years and will typically visit the orthodontist for monthly check ups to tighten the braces for further progress.2
During the first few weeks, having braces will not feel normal and everyday activities such as eating and brushing your teeth may cause discomfort. Your braces may also feel large in your mouth, but you will eventually adjust to the treatment. Small amounts of discomfort are unavoidable as a “foreign” item is placed within the mouth of the patient.1,3
As time goes on braces will slowly straighten and align your teeth. This will lead to some tenderness in the teeth that usually lasts for no longer than a few days.1 Common remedies and treatments to relieve this pain are to take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, eating soft foods such as yogurt, soup, or ice cream, or drinking cold beverages. Applying a cloth covered ice pack on the face near the pain will also help. Another common remedy to help your gums heal is using warm salt water rinses (½ teaspoon of salt in a cup or warm water).
 Dental Braces and Retainers: Types, Care, What to Expect. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/braces-and-retainers#:~:text=Braces are dental tools that, you have a normal bite.
 Do braces hurt? What to expect when you get braces. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327201#do-braces-hurt
 Facts About Dental Braces. (2020, July 08). Retrieved from https://olasmile.com/facts-about-braces/