Orthodontic braces or dental braces not only fix your teeth, but they also improve your dental health.
Sometimes called ‘railway tracks’ because of their appearance, the nickname for orthodontic braces is suitably apt for another reason: they keep your teeth on track to develop into a straight and even row.
More importantly, apart from aesthetic reasons and added self-confidence, braces can impart functional and dental health benefits, explained Dr Lai Ye Choung, Associate Consultant, Dentistry, JurongHealth.
“Braces treatment can improve the fit of the upper and lower teeth so that chewing is more efficient. A well-aligned set of teeth is also much easier to clean and maintain compared to crooked teeth,” he said.
Orthodontic braces can be used to straighten crooked teeth, create sufficient space for tooth replacement or close gaps for teeth that are too far apart.
In most cases, it is ideal to start dental braces treatment after the age of 12 when a child's permanent teeth have all surfaced. However, explained Dr Lai, the ideal age can vary depending on the type of dental malocclusion.
It is never too late to do dental braces treatment and adults too can start braces treatment, he added. “Treatment time may be a bit longer compared to children and teenagers as the teeth have to move through denser bone structures.”
On average, the orthodontic treatment process ranges from 15 to 24 months, depending on the rate of tooth movement, the complexity of the case and the patient's attendance and compliance. “To put it simply, the longer the distance the tooth has to move, the longer the treatment time,” Dr Lai said.
Dental braces can be made from stainless steel, ceramic, clear plastic or a combination of materials. The types of braces fall under three categories:
During the regularly scheduled reviews, an orthodontist will track the treatment progress and adjust the tension and amount of force on the wires to slowly shift teeth into place.
When treatment is completed, the orthodontic braces are removed, and patients will be given a set of customised, removable retainers to help them maintain the alignment of their teeth.
Made of wires and brackets, traditional and self-ligating braces act as traps for food and plaque. This means more care must be taken to protect teeth from stains and cavities.
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This article was last reviewed on
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
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