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What Are Orthodontics / Braces?

Few are born with perfectly straight smile. Whether you sport an overbite, an underbite or crooked teeth, you may have been told it could be helped with orthodontic treatment known as braces.

What are braces?

The American Association of Orthodontists defines braces as “a fixed orthodontic appliance, usually comprised of brackets, bands and wires.” What this appliance does, however, is another thing. Through constant pressure over an extended period of time, braces help align teeth and correct malocclusions—“bad” bites from causes such as too many teeth or not enough, a misalignment of the jaw or thumb sucking.

Who needs them?

While braces are commonly associated with children and teens, the American Association of Orthodontists states that one in five orthodontic patients is an adult.

Treatment may begin once a child’s adult teeth have come in. Children and teens have softer jaws, which is one advantage to seeking orthodontic care before adulthood. However, it is never really too late for braces and the improved oral health—and smile—they can provide.

Braces are about more than visually pleasing teeth; they help prevent and address oral health problems. Crowded teeth may be difficult to properly brush and floss, leading to issues such as tooth decay and gum disease. Abnormal bites can also make eating difficult and cause headaches and pain.

What options are available?

Getting braces no longer means becoming a “metal mouth.” The three main options include invisible braces, which are actually clear plastic trays; lingual braces, which are placed behind the teeth; and variations on traditional braces such as ceramic or clear. Consult with your orthodontist and your insurance provider about what options are available to you.

How long do you need to wear braces?

Length of treatment varies from person to person. In general, braces are worn about one year to two-and-a-half years with adjustments made by an orthodontist as needed.

Check with your dental plan to verify your orthodontics benefits. If you don’t have dental insurance, click here to learn more about purchasing the perfect plan.

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