When I was a little girl, my mother made me wear braces because my teeth were crooked. Although I did not like them at that time, my teeth are straight today and I am grateful I wore them. Now I have a daughter, and her teeth are also crooked! I took her to the dentist to make some braces, and he told me that braces today are very different from the ones I wore.
Yes. This is true. The ones you wore as a kid are called traditional metal braces. They are still the most common ones worn because they are not that expensive, and some people don’t want to spend that much on a kid to look good.
However, they are far more comfortable today than they were in your day. They are made of high-grade stainless steel now, and they straighten your teeth using metal brackets and arch wires.
Metal braces today give you the option of adding coloured elastic bands (yes, rubber bands!) to make your teeth look colourful. And, braces can be a fashion statement!
What are brackets and arch wires in braces?
The main wires around your teeth are called arch wires. They are fitted especially for your upper and lower jaw. They are bent and twisted by your dentist to fit in the slot of the brackets.
These wires have a “memory” position. The wires will return to this position in six to 10 weeks, pressuring your teeth to align with them. The arch wires will be changed from appointment to appointment, depending on your progress.
The wires may be progressively thicker and stronger. That’s why you will feel your teeth “tightening” when you wear braces for a while.
Brackets are the pieces that are glued or bonded directly to each tooth or to a band. They are the things that hold the arch wire against each tooth. The arch wire is fitted into a slot on each bracket. There are lots of other components including the elastics that make your braces work.
I was told there are many types of braces.
There are the traditional metal braces like the ones described. Then there are self-ligating braces. They are also made of stainless steel, and the brackets can be metal, ceramic or clear.
They don’t however use elastics, so you don’t have to go to the dentist very often to check them. There is also less friction and pressure placed on your teeth. Instead of elastics, these use a special clip to put the arch wire in place.
The ceramic braces are made of clear materials and therefore, are less visible. You might want these if you are conscious of your appearance. However, they are larger and more easily breakable, so you have to be careful with them when you brush your teeth.
Moreover, you can really build up tartar behind them if you don’t brush them and your teeth properly. Today, ceramic braces are used less and less because of options like Invisalign.
Another type is lingual braces, which are the same as traditional metal braces, except they are inside your bite instead of outside. They are not easily seen unless you open your mouth wide. Unfortunately, they are more difficult to keep clean and makes talking difficult.
There are also clear and invisible braces, such as Invisalign and ClearCorrect, which are more expensive. But it is definitely a choice if you want to look good while correcting your teeth.
I’m actually most interested in Invisalign. I see them advertised in every dentist’s office.
Invisalign is the commonest and most effective of the invisible aligner braces. There are a lot of benefits, such as you being able to remove them completely to clean your teeth and the aligners themselves. They are also invisible, and they can be far more comfortable than metal braces.
Of course, they will be far more expensive than traditional braces, so you must decide whether you want to afford them for your child. I can definitely see a lot of teenagers and adults wanting them.
They are not for everyone though. They will not be able to correct severe orthodontic conditions.
My daughter finally has her new braces. But she says they hurt. I don’t remember them hurting that much when I wore them as a child. What can I do?
Braces usually hurt for the first week. There will be some pain and soreness in your teeth and gums. But this will go away in one week. What you will feel is pressure on your teeth as the wires and rubber bands tighten to straighten your teeth. You can take some painkillers.
And during the first week, you have to stick to soft foods such as yoghurt, soups, noodles and mashed potatoes. The good news is that ice cream is also considered a soft food!
Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.