What are braces and why do we need them?

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What are braces and why do we need them?

10, Aug 2023


What are braces and why do we need them?


Braces are appliances that move teeth by transferring the forces of a wire onto the teeth for extended periods of time. The shape of your jaw gradually adapts to conform to this pressure. Between the teeth and the bone and under your gums is a membrane that connects the roots of your teeth to your jawbone. This membrane controls the position of your teeth, and it responds to the pressure being placed on your teeth by braces. Aesthetics is not the only consideration for braces. Sometimes, even a person with straight-looking teeth might need braces because of the mal-relations of groups of teeth or individual teeth to each other that affect the functioning of your bite. Plus, one must also consider the relationship of the upper jaw to the lower jaw might not be the way it should. This mal relationship might necessitate surgery as well as braces for correction. Malocclusion (bad bite) can affect not only facial aesthetics but also cause difficulty in biting, chewing, speaking and the ability to clean well. The goal with braces is to restore function as well as improve aesthetics.


Braces are not only for children.


Lots of adults have braces too. You’re never too old to correct your bite or align your teeth, but treatment may take a little longer when you are older. The advantage of having braces as an adult, is that adults take better responsibility for their dental hygiene as compared to children.


One or more of the following might indicate that a person needs braces:


– Crooked/overcrowding of teeth or evidence of mal-relations of teeth

– Jaw noises and clicks when opening and closing the jaws and during chewing

– Cheek and tongue biting

– Mouth breathing/sleep apnoea/snoring

– Speech issues

– Grinding or clenching of teeth


How long do I need to wear braces?


The duration of treatment depends on many factors such as severity of the problem, compliance with treatment (e.g. wearing elastics according to the instructions of the orthodontist.) This can range from 1 to 2 years or even longer. Minor corrections might take shorter time, and more complicated cases might take longer than 2 years, especially if treatment is done in different phases. Although it is possible that some braces systems might be quicker than others, always listen to the recommendation of your orthodontist.