A specialist branch of dentistry which deals with problems related to the alignment of the teeth and jaws. This includes malocclusion (bad bite), misaligned jaws, e.g. temporomandibular jaw disorder (TMJ) and bruxism (teeth grinding).
Most treatments are designed as a form of correction, especially in the case of crooked or protruding teeth. But cases of malocclusion are often categorised as cosmetic dentistry in that they often form part of a ‘smile makeover’ package.
There are people who undergo this treatment to improve the appearance of their teeth on purely elective grounds.
There are several benefits to having well aligned teeth which include a reduced risk of tooth decay and other conditions caused by out of place teeth.
The most popular form of orthodontic treatment is a dental brace.
Types of dental braces
There are different types of braces which are suitable for both adults and children.
- Invisible braces
- Fast acting braces
- Cosmetic braces
- Conventional braces
- Braces for children
- Braces for children and teenagers are discussed further in a separate section.
What is a brace?
This is a dental device which is made from plastic or metal, e.g. nickel titanium which is worn in the mouth to correct crooked or misaligned teeth.
A brace consists of a small plate with springs and wires attached which apply a gentle pressure to the teeth, thereby causing them to move into a correct alignment.
There are two types of braces: fixed and removable. Fixed braces are only removed once treatment has ended. The removable type of brace is taken out each day for cleaning and before eating but is replaced straight after.
How does a brace work?
A brace helps to pull misaligned teeth back into position; corrects an overbite or crossbite; prevents overcrowding of teeth and malocclusion; treats jaw disorders such as TMJ.
Who is suitable for a brace?
Dental braces can be worn by children as young as 8. In fact, children benefit more from wearing a brace as the bones in their face are still growing and respond better to a brace.
But adults can also benefit. A brace will realign crooked or protruding teeth which improves both their appearance and function.
Modern dental braces are comfortable to wear and less noticeable than before. There are clear or invisible braces which are worn over the teeth and are practically undetectable to the naked eye.