Many teenagers wonder why they need to wear braces.
Is it all about cosmetics or is there something more important?
Back in the days of the cave men, teenagers were only two or three feet tall.
But over the last 10,000 years, people have got bigger. While our mouths have got a little bigger, our teeth got a lot bigger.
As a result, teeth no longer fit correctly into most people’s mouths.
While improving your smile is a great reason for getting braces, there are more important problems that can arise if you don’t deal with crooked teeth.
Digestion Problems: If your teeth are not straight, you will not be able to chew your food correctly and this can lead to stomach problems
Dental Problems: If you don’t deal with crooked teeth early on, your teeth will be hard to clean, and you will face gum problems and greater wear on your teeth.
Breathing problem: As you get older the roof of your mouth can sometimes partially block the air passages in your nose making you snore loudly. The risk of this can be reduced by having braces.
Truth is about 70% of teenagers need braces and therefore having braces will not make you feel different to most of your friends.
One reason orthodontic treatment for adults is different is that, when you are older, it is harder to enlarge your mouth to get all of your teeth to fit.
When you are growing, your jaw is more flexible and the orthodontist can stretch your mouth so everything fits.
However, after you finish growing, your jaw hardens and it becomes difficult for an orthodontist to stretch it.
While you can have your jaw enlarged surgically, most adults opt to have their teeth straightened without this step.
This may mean you need to have some teeth removed to make everything fit. This may not have been necessary if the treatment had been done when you were still growing.
However, there are many benefits in having orthodontic treatment at any age.
In adult life, it can help your digestion and your general health as well as preventing dental problems.
The main difference is that orthodontic treatment when you are older can be a bit slower and even slightly more painful than for younger patients.
While a surprising number of adults benefit from orthodontic treatment, not all adults can take advantage.
It can depend on how well you have looked after your teeth and gums.
For example, gums may have receded so much that orthodontic treatment is not an option or roots may be very shallow if they have not been cared for properly.
Although the state of your mouth may mean that orthodontic treatment is not possible, the benefits of it can apply at any age and it is always worth checking the situation out with an orthodontist.
All orthodontists are trained how to treat adult patients but some specialize in this area.
An experienced orthodontist will know that adult treatment can take longer and may need to be more gentle than treatment earlier in life when someone is still growing.
Orthodontic services can be provided by any licensed dentist trained in orthodontics though most treatment is done by orthodontists.
A dentist must complete 2-3 years of additional training to earn a special qualification in orthodontics.
While many people think orthodontic treatment such as braces is mainly for children, it can help your health at any age.
Crooked teeth are harder to clean and the wear will be uneven. This can lead to inflamed gums and toothache which may even lead to you losing teeth.
Orthodontic treatment can therefore help prevent gum problems and tooth loss.
Another health benefit of having your teeth working effectively is that chewing is an important part of digestion. When you are not able to chew food properly, the rest of the digestive system has to work harder.
An important benefit of orthodontic treatment is therefore that in can help solve and prevent digestion problems.
Orthodontic treatment in adults is similar to teenage treatment although it normally takes a bit longer.
The healing process takes a bit longer as you get older so the orthodontist will need to move your teeth more slowly for example.
If your doctor or orthodontist believes you need braces, they will start by examining your teeth visually.
They will then set up an appointment to take X-rays and make molds and impressions so that they have a clear record of how your mouth currently looks.
These records will help them establish the problem and what course of action to take.
A short time before you receive the braces, spacers are added into your mouth to make sure there is enough space for the bands.
An adhesive will be applied to the teeth to help the cement bond to the surface of the tooth.
In most cases the teeth will be banded and then brackets will be added.
The bracket will be applied with dental cement and light may be used and to help harden it. This may takes a few seconds for each tooth.
Molar bands may be needed to ensure the brackets stay in place.
Bands may also be needed if previous dental treatment such as fillings cause problems with attaching the bracket.
Once the brackets have been added, an archwire is threaded between them. This is fixed in place by ligatures, which may be elastic or metal.
Archwires are tightened frequently to help deliver the results required.
Brackets and or hooks may be added to the archwire for affixing the elastic.
Braces often use nickel-titanium archwires and temperature-sensitive materials. The archwire is flexible when cold and, when it is heated to body temperature, it stiffens and tries to retain its shape so this creates constant light pressure on the teeth.
Though various devices have been used to straighten teeth since the days of the Ancients Greeks and Romans, it was only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that orthodontics began to develop as separate science.
There is no one person who is universally seen as “The Father of Orthodontics” but several have a claim to the title.
One claim goes as far back as, 1728 when the French surgeon Pierre Fauchard published his book “The Surgeon Dentist”, which included a whole chapter on ways to straighten teeth.
This certainly gave orthodontics a huge push forward – although that term was actually coined in 1841 by Joachim Lafoulon.
But the science was not really put on the map until more than 100 years later.
First, dentist and writer Norman W. Kingsley wrote the first article on orthodontics in 1858 and published his book “Treatise on Oral Deformities” in 1880.
Another major step forward was when dentist J. N. Farrar wrote “A Treatise on the Irregularities of the Teeth and Their Corrections”.
Farrar was also very good at designing brace appliances and was the first to suggest using mild force at timed intervals to move teeth.
In the early 1900s, Edward H. Angle devised a classification system for malocclusions which is still used today.
This system was a way for dentists to describe how crooked teeth were and how they fitted together.
Angle contributed significantly to the design of orthodontic appliances and founded the first college of orthodontics in 1901.
Gradually the field of orthodontics became a respected dental specialty in its own right.
You may think the desire for straight teeth is a feature of our modern image-conscious society.
But there is evidence going back hundreds of years of devices being used to straighten teeth.
Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains where there were crude metal bands wrapped around individual teeth.
And Roman tombs also revealed evidence of teeth being bound with gold wire.
Around 500BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle both talked about how to straighten teeth and fix various dental conditions.
Nevertheless, it was much later that significant progress was made in orthodontics.
In 1728, French Dentist Pierre Fauchard published a book called the “The Surgeon Dentist” with an entire chapter on ways to straighten teeth.
Scottish surgeon John Hunter wrote “The Natural History of the Human Teeth” in 1771, which described dental anatomy in clear detail and came up with terms in use today such as cuspids, incisors and molars.
While teeth straightening has been practiced since early times, orthodontics did not exist as a separate science until the mid-1800s.
The introduction of the wire crib in 1819 is seen as marking the birth of contemporary orthodontics although the term orthodontia was actually coined by Joachim Lafoulon in 1841.
In the late 1800s, Eugene Solomon Talbot was believed to be the first person to suggest using X-rays for orthodontic diagnosis.
But the real advancements in orthodontics came in the late 19th and 20th Centuries.