Dental braces are wire-based appliances that orthodontists use to correct crowded and misaligned teeth or jaws. Many people who need dental braces get them during their early teenage years. However, adults also may benefit from wearing braces. The goal of dental braces is to properly align your teeth and jaws to produce an even bite and pleasing smile.
For teens or adults who need minor corrections, an alternative to fixed braces is a series of clear, customized, removable appliances called aligners or “invisible braces.” Clear aligners may be more expensive than fixed braces, but may have a more acceptable appearance to some adults. However, many people need fixed braces to appropriately correct their dental problem.
Modern materials and technologies make the experience of having dental braces much more comfortable than in the past.
Dental braces offer corrective treatment for:
- Overcrowded or crooked teeth
- Too much space between teeth
- Upper front teeth that overlap the lower teeth too much — either vertically (overbite) or horizontally (overjet)
- Upper front teeth that bite behind the lower ones (underbite)
- Other jaw misalignment problems that cause an uneven bite
Proper alignment of your teeth and jaws may improve not only the appearance of your teeth, but the way you bite, chew and speak.
Adults and braces
Braces can help solve some of the same problems in adults that they do in children, including crooked teeth and misaligned jaws. If you’re an adult with braces, you may need to wear them longer than a younger person would, but they can still produce similar results. Because your facial bones are no longer growing, however, there may be some problems that can’t be corrected with braces alone.
Fixed dental braces use the pressure of an adjustable arch wire running through brackets and bands fixed to your teeth to align your teeth and jaws properly. Small elastic or metal ties fix the wire to the brackets, although some braces have a sliding mechanism instead of ties to secure the wire. The buccal tube secures the end of the arch wire. The headgear tube may be used to attach a wire gadget, usually worn at night, around the outside of the face to produce additional pressure. Elastics stretched between the upper and lower jaws offer another option for additional corrective pressure. Not all connections shown are used in every case.