You’ve just had your regular visit with your dentist and you’ve been told that either you or your kid needs braces. Brace yourself. While the cost of braces can be overwhelming, these devices help to realign and straighten teeth so that you not only have a more uniform smile, but your bite and chewing are improved. Braces may be structural or cosmetic, and may be used in conjunction with other appliances or procedures, but ultimately, the goal is to improve your oral hygiene and overall health by correcting under-bites, overbites, cross bites, crooked teeth, malocclusions, and various other problems with the teeth an jaws.
History of Braces
Somewhat surprisingly, many scholars and historians date braces to ancient history. As early as 400 BC may have used primitive brace structures to straighten teeth and correct dental conditions. Yet, as a field, orthodontics didn’t really start to take shape until the late 17th century, when tooth-pulling was a common practice for improving tooth alignment. By the early to mid 19th century, pioneers in orthodontics began using wires and elastics to gradually improve and straighten teeth. As you can clearly see, there is a long history associated with the field of orthodontics, and specifically the development of dental braces.
How do Braces Work?
Simply put, braces work by slowly and gradually applying pressure in order to move teeth in the jaw. Traditional they utilize brackets installed on each tooth, an arch wire that connects each of these brackets, and elastics that allow the arch wire to put pressure on the brackets and teeth. The constant pressure braces put on teeth allows them to move over time into their correct positions. While in the early days of orthodontics there were few options for braces, today there are a variety of types of, the result of advances in dental technology.
Types of Braces
The most common types are traditional metal-wired braces, clear braces, gold-plated stainless steel braces, lingual braces, and titanium braces.
- Traditional Braces are usually stainless steel and may be combined with other alloys. These are the most common and least expensive types and may require ties to hold the arch-wire in place.
- Newer self-ligating brackets do away with ties and are becoming more popular as they reduce friction between the bracket and the wire.
- Clear Braces are an increasingly popular cosmetic alternative to the standard metal one. Designed to blend naturally with the colour of your teeth, clear braces use brackets made of ceramic or plastic but function in a very similar manner as metal one.
- Gold-plated Stainless Steel Braces are the go-to choice for patients who are allergic to the basic components of metal braces (i.e. nickel), but they are sometimes a cosmetic choice as well.
- Lingual Braces are custom-made braces that are fixed to the back of teeth so they are completely invisible.
- Titanium Braces are lighter and stronger than other metal braces and are also a convenient choice for those with allergies to stainless steel braces.
By Alex Pupkin