Lots of kids have problems with their teeth not growing in nice and straight. It doesn't mean something is wrong with you. If you don't do anything about this, your teeth could look very crooked and uneven when you grow up, leaving you with a smile that could scare Frankenstein. Also, you could have problems with your "bite," or the way your teeth hit each other when you close your mouth. This could put pressure on your jaw and give you other kinds of problems later on.
Braces are usually worn between the ages of 10 and 14; this is the period of development in which your head and mouth are still growing and teeth are more flexible, and easier, to straighten.
There are three kinds of braces:
- Brackets, usually made form metal or plastic, and are bonded, or glued, to your teeth.
- Lingual braces, which are brackets that attach to the back of your teeth, hidden from view.
- Bands, which are the old-fashioned type that cover most of your teeth with metal strips that wrap around the teeth.
All types of braces use wires to move the teeth to the desired position.
If you need braces, this is usually what happens: After the dentist examines your mouth, a plaster mold is taken of your teeth, photos of your face and teeth and X-rays of your mouth and head are taken. This is done to make sure that you get just the right kind of braces.
While you are wearing your braces, they'll need to be adjusted by your dentist now and then so that your teeth are growing in the right way. After you get your braces taken off (usually in about two years or less), you probably will need to wear a retainer, which is a lightweight, plastic-like plate the fits in between your rows of teeth. The retainer helps keep your teeth in their new positions.
Are Braces Uncomfortable?
Sometimes, your dentist will need to re-tighten the interconnecting wires of your braces. This causes mild pressure on the brackets or bands to shift teeth or jaws gradually into a desired position. Your teeth and jaws may feel slightly sore after such a visit, but the discomfort doesn't last long.
How Do I Clean My Teeth With Braces On?
If you wear braces, you should try not eating things like sweets, chips and pop. Sugary and starchy foods generate acids and plaque that can cause tooth decay and promote gum disease. Cut healthy, hard foods like carrots or apples into smaller pieces. And by all means, avoid sticky, chewy sweets such as caramel, which can cause wire damage and loosen brackets. Avoid hard and crunchy snacks such as popcorn, nuts and hard candy, because these can break braces.
It is very important to brush your teeth regularly while wearing braces. If you don't, the metal bands could leave permanent stains on the enamel of your teeth. Braces have tiny spaces where food particles and plaque get trapped. Brush carefully after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and check your teeth in the mirror to make sure they're clean. Floss between braces and under wires with the help of a floss threader. Have your teeth cleaned every six months to keep your gums and teeth healthy.