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Braces are also known as orthodontic braces.These are metal or ceramic devices and are elements of different shapes, sizes and designs used to correct and bring uneven misaligned teeth to their normal positioning in the mouth. They are the most efficient and accurate method for moving teeth.The component parts of braces are available as bands, brackets and wires made up of stainless steel. These are used in conjunction with other orthodontic appliances to correct the misaligned positioning of the palate, teeth and jaws.

Types of braces
If braces are indeed required by someone, an orthodontist (a dentist who specialises and has a Masters degree in braces) will prescribe an appliance in the form of braces. There is a wide range of braces available for different treatments. A few of them are:
  1. Traditional Metal Wires: These are stainless steel wires and are most commonly used in dental practice. Their purpose is to hold and maintain arches (upper and lower jaw) in their proper place
  2. Clear braces: These are used as cosmetic braces in place of traditional ones. There colour is almost similar to the colour of teeth and this gives them a more natural look which enhances  the confidence of a person
  3. Gold-plated stainless steel braces: These braces are advised to patients who are allergic to nickel, a common stainless steel compound. It can sometimes be used also for the look of gold compared to silver wires
  4. Lingual braces: These are specifically used on the back of teeth to make them appear invisible & hard for naked eyes to detect the presence braces
  5. Titanium braces: These resemble stainless steel braces in their looks but these are lighter and stronger as compared to the rest of the other types of braces. People allergic to nickel can also use these type of braces
  6. A-braces: These are a new concept braces and can be regarded as new generation braces. They appear similar to the shape of the capital letter ‘A’. They can be easily applied, adjusted, and removed and are also completely controlled by the user. They do not cause pain as they do not put much pressure on the teeth and they can be controlled easily by setting the wire from time to time
  7. Other types of braces: Smart brackets, spring aligners and progressive and clear removable aligners.

Conditions when dental braces are required

  • Dental braces are required to correct the bite, also known as the closing point of the upper and lower jaws. Braces can correct both over bite and deep bite
  • They can also be used to correct proper speech, and thus improve speaking ability
  • Dental braces are required to correct jaw or temporo-mandibular pain
  • Dental braces are required to correct difficulty in chewing or eating
  • They also can correct sleep disorders like poor sleep patterns, teeth grinding habits while speaking, mouth breathing and snoring habits
  • Dental braces can also correct the positioning of uneven teeth, overcrowding of teeth, tilted teeth and wide teeth


Teeth which need braces are either corrected by orthodontic surgery or directly by applying braces over tooth surface with the help of a bonding dental material. This procedure takes few minutes to hours for proper bonding depending on the number of teeth used and finally the braced teeth are left untouched for minimum six months to 12 months (or longer as the case may be) for very good results.

How do braces work

Braces work by continuously applying pressure on the teeth for a particular time period. Patients can benefit from the use of braces starting from the age of 12-14 years once the milk teeth (deciduous teeth) have been replaced by permanent dentition. Most successful results come up to the age of 23-25 years, though braces may be put at later ages also (adult orthodontics). Slowly but surely braces move teeth in a specific and desired direction. As teeth move and further pressure is applied, the bone eventually changes its shape and the moved teeth now occupy the desired location in either of the jaws.

Advantages of braces
These are beneficial in two ways:
  1. They eventually give proper shape to uneven, mal-aligned and improperly positioned teeth. A perfect smile, better looks and more confidence is the result
  2. The user can easily eat food and drink liquid while undergoing treatment

Disadvantages of braces

  1. In most of the cases, the major disadvantage is the sacrifice of teeth from either of the jaw. This sacrifice may also involve removal of two or three teeth
  2. Another disadvantage is that the user has to periodically go for dental check ups and adjustment of their braces
  3. Sometimes, braces cause pain, irritation, discomfort and are very time consuming
  4. Sometimes, the results are not up to the mark and the user has to go for the treatment again in the second attempt
  5. It is actually a very costly treatment and may not be possible for everyone to afford
  6. A person has to give up few eating habits like chewing gum, hard and sticky materials etc.
  7. Braces demand proper and special oral care like regular brushing with only special orthodontic brush after every meal, mouth wash rinses and periodic cleaning. Failure to do so may result in other dental problems while attempting to solve this one.


After complete removal of braces or orthodontic treatment, retainers are most definitely a must to maintain and keep the new shape, size, positioning and appearance of teeth. They have to be worn as per the orthodontist’s advice.

Complications and risk
  • The long term use of braces may cause complete change of shape of face, jaw and cheek bones
  • Chances of mouth sores are high. This may occur from any of the components of braces
  • Sudden breakage of braces can also occur, leading to the damage of adjacent soft tissues of the mouth, gums and may also cause fracture. Therefore, proper care is a must
  • The excessive pressure on teeth may also cause resorption of the tooth root
  • Prolonged use and improper care can lead to periodontal disease
  • In some cases, the success rate may be low and after removing the braces, the now correctly positioned teeth can return to their abnormal position. This may make the teeth appear more misaligned than they originally were.

1) Do braces hurt?

The discomfort or pain one gets from braces is manageable and not as painful as it is made out to be. At the max, a person might feel some amount of discomfort in the first few days of getting braces, but that is only because your teeth are getting aligned to pressure of the wires and elastic ligatures put on them.  To alleviate the pain, you can restore to taking over the counter pain killers or apply wax on the braces to keep them off from rubbing against the insides of your teeth.


2) How long will I have to wear braces?

If you have misaligned teeth, braces or retainers are the best option. How long do you have to wear them is something that totally depends on the condition of your teeth and few other factors. Every mouth is unique and so are its problems and requirements. The need to keep the braces on depends from person to person but in a typical scenario, it takes an average of 23 months for the orthodontic treatment to show results.  In children the healing process is faster as their jaw is at a growing stage and might not require any aggressive treatment compared to adults.


3) How often will I have to come for an appointment?

Once you have got the braces on, a regular visit to your dentist becomes mandatory. It will help you solve any adjustment issues, keep a tab on your teeth’s progress, update you on the time period for which you will have to keep the braces on, adjust the wires to make sure your teeth are being pulled in the right direction, replace the worn-out rubber bands and maintain the health and hygiene factor. Skipping an appointment with your dentist can hinder the progress of your teeth and pose problem in the healing process, going forward.


4) Can I wear a retainer instead of getting braces?

Unless the problem is minor and does not require much intervention, braces are required to correct any misalignment in teeth. Retainers are used to close gaps between teeth or hold the teeth in their new position once the braces have come off. Any problem that goes beyond the purview of bridging the gap requires you to get braces. Retainers cannot apply the kind of pressure that braces do, which is required to pull the teeth in the right direction and align them with the rest of the teeth in the jaw. If you have misaligned or crooked teeth, braces is the only option.


5) How long do I have to wear my retainer?

Once the braces have come off, it will take time for your bone and tissues around your teeth to recognise their new position and stabilise the biting. Retainers help in preventing the risk of your teeth to relapse and go back to their original position once the braces have been taken off. Usually, retainers are worn for as long as you had the braces for but because they come in a removable format and can be taken off during the day time. But that totally depends on how much restoration your teeth require and the suggestion of your dentist. Maintain good oral hygiene to keep all dental problems away.


6) Are there other foods I should avoid?

Life can be hard with braces, but avoiding the foods given below will help you retain the health of your teeth while you are at it.

  • Chewy foods like gums, bagels, hard rolls etc.
  • Hard foods like nuts and candies
  • Sweet products like chocolates, cakes with icing, ice cream
  • Foods that require you to bite hard into them like apples, carrots, corn
  • Sticky and crunchy foods like caramel, ice, chips, popcorn
  • Acidic food items like colas, sweetened fruit juices

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