April 16, 2021 by Dr. Abhi Singh

What Are Dental Braces: Treatments, What To Expect, Types & Cost

If you’ve ever wanted straight teeth but did not understand how dental braces work, then you are definitely in the right place. Today, we will be answering the many questions that arise when we think about getting braces, such as treatments available, what problems they can help with, and the types and cost.      

This comprehensive guide will serve to give you a full insight into the world of braces. 

What Are Dental Braces, And What Do They Do?

A dental brace is a dental appliance that falls into the field of dentistry called Orthodontics. Orthodontics deals with positioning the teeth and jaw until everything is properly aligned to eliminate any bite issue, overbite, crowding, and spacing. Orthodontists are dental professionals who have gone through extensive training to perform this type of correction. 

Many teenagers get braces early on, but adults can as well. Braces have no age group, and many people have seen results from having one of these dental appliances installed. All you need to do is schedule an appointment with your dentist to identify the issue and develop the right solution. 

They will be able to tell which treatment you need, whether it’s braces and retainers, custom-made, removable or fixed tools to cover your teeth and keep them in place until your problem is fixed. 

There are several types of braces, and your dentist will choose either of these for you. 

Metal Braces 

Metal braces are the traditional style of braces that you have probably seen in movies or real life. Traditional braces use metal brackets attached to the front of the teeth to guide them until they are properly aligned. Metal braces can also include bands that fit around each tooth. The brackets or bands are held together by archwires or flexible wire to shift alignment and resolve your issue. 

If you have a nickel or metal allergy, the metal used in these regular braces may trigger a reaction. To avoid this, inform your orthodontist so they can look into other alternatives like gold-plated stainless steel or titanium. 

Ceramic Braces 

Ceramic braces work similarly as traditional metal braces. However, the one major difference is in its appearance. These units are usually clear or match the colour of your teeth. This means that your braces will not be as visible and noticeable as metal braces. 

Lingual Braces 

In the world of dentistry, the inner side of your teeth is referred to as lingual hence the name lingual braces. Lingual braces see the placement of the brackets on the back of the teeth as opposed to the front. These units are also made of metal like the traditional models but are harder to see. 

Clear Aligners 

Clear aligners are clear plastic trays that are almost invisible and very hard to see. These braces fit snugly on the teeth and move them into their correct positions by gently applying pressure. These removable aligners allow you to keep can be taken out when eating. Invisible braces are also easy to clean than traditional braces. Just remember to put them back in and wear them for at least 22 hours a day. 

How Do Braces Work?

Now that we know what braces are and the types, it begs to ask the question, “How do braces work?” Not all braces are created the same, so not all braces straighten teeth the same way.

Most braces work by putting pressure on your teeth to slowly move them in the direction needed to fix the issue. The goal is to have the braces in for a period of time until the issue is resolved.  

In some cases, braces may even change the structure of facial bones. To fully understand how dental braces work, here are some parts that work together to straighten teeth.  

Brackets 

Brackets are attached to the teeth using a special bonding agent or orthodontic bands. These units are available in several types, including stainless steel, tooth-coloured ceramic or plastic. 

Orthodontic bands 

Orthodontic bands wrap around each tooth and act as an anchor for the brackets. They can be clear, tooth-coloured or made from stainless steel. Your dentist will decide if you need the orthodontic bands to hold the brackets in place or not. 

Spacers 

Spacers, as the name suggests, fit in the spaces between your teeth. If there isn’t enough spacing between the teeth, spacers are used to create space to facilitate orthodontic bands’ placement. 

Arch Wires 

Arch wires are used to hold the brackets and provide guidance to help your teeth move into their correct positions to straighten your smile. Arch wires are adjusted at different stages to continue to realign the teeth and jaw throughout the set period of time. 

Ties 

Ties can either be rubber or metal and are used to fasten the arch wire to the bracket. 

Without the use of ties, the arch wire will not be securely held in place on your teeth. 

Oftentimes, these ties may be replaced periodically. 

Buccal Tube 

A buccal tube holds the arch wire in place at the last tooth on each side of your mouth. In other instances, your dentist may use rubber bands, elastic bands or springs to ensure everything is held together tightly to correct your problem. 

Headgear

In severe cases, your orthodontist may suggest you use a dental appliance known as headgear. Headgears are removable appliances that help to move upper molars to create more space in the mouth for crowded teeth or correct bite issues. 

The molars move farther to the back of the mouth, so everything is aligned, and you end up with straight teeth for a beautiful smile. 

What Problem Do Braces Fix?

Overcrowding and Spacing 

Crowded teeth and irregular spacing between teeth are the most common problems that can be fixed by using dental braces. One common example of irregular spacing is gapped teeth, which most people have between their two front teeth. 

This space is called diastema and is quite common among children and usually carries on into adulthood. Others may have overcrowded teeth, which can alter their smile or the way they eat. 

There are dental treatments and various types of dental braces the help solve both these issues. 

Misaligned Jaw 

A misaligned jaw can result from the incorrect positioning of teeth, which can cause an underbite or overbite. Persons with overcrowded or irregularly shaped teeth will encounter soreness and discomfort in the jaw area. 

Your temporal mandibular joints are the two joints that connect the jawbone to the skull and are more at risk if a misaligned jaw is left untreated. This can lead to severe pain and discomfort, which can lead to long-term consequences. 

Orthodontists will determine which dental treatment is best to help align your teeth in their proper position. Once your teeth are aligned, your jaw will also become aligned, and this should eliminate any pain or discomfort you may have. 

Overbites and Underbites 

Overbites and underbites are referred to as malocclusions and could lead to serious problems. An overbite happens when your upper jaw protrudes significantly over your bottom jaw. This can make your chin appear smaller and can lead to issues when eating certain types of food. 

Orthodontic treatments can help to correct the protrusion and align the upper jaw with the bottom jaw. 

This helps you to eat better and diminish the look of a small chin as well. 

On the other hand, underbites occur when the bottom jaw protrudes out past the upper jaw. This can also affect the way the chin looks, but, in this case, the chin is more prominent. 

Open bites 

Open bites occur when there are large spaces between the upper teeth and the lower teeth in the front part of the mouth. Unlike overbites and underbites, open bites are not considered a malocclusion issue because open bites occur from excessive sucking on the thumb or a pacifier. 

Most times, open bites occur in children, and as they grow and lose their baby teeth, this issue is fixed. However, in some cases, adults suffer from open bites with their permanent teeth, and this problem can be fixed with the use of a dental brace. 

Periodontal Problems And Gum Diseases

Misaligned teeth are hard to clean, leading to terrible oral health and cause periodontal problems and gum diseases. This can lead to tooth decay and bone loss. Braces work by applying constant pressure to gently move teeth into place to make them easier to clean. 

Midline Alignment Issues 

The midline alignment issue arises when the cross-sectional line that divides the top and bottom jaw doesn’t line up. This can affect your jaw position and alter your facial appearance. However, braces can fix these issues and give you a perfect smile. 

Self-Confidence Issues 

Persons with crooked teeth tend to feel self-conscious about their smiles and avoid smiling. This can affect many areas of life, including their social, professional and personal life. Braces can help by boosting confidence and give you a straight smile you have been wishing for. 

How Long Do I Need To Wear A Brace?

The period of time required to wear a dental brace varies from person to person since they all have different problems that need fixing. A few things that your orthodontist will take into consideration are the severity of your problem, the size of your mouth, how far your teeth need to be moved, the health of your teeth, gums and bones, among others. 

On average, you may need to wear braces for 1 to 3 years after they’re put in place. After this time, the braces come off, and some people may need to use a retainer for the next six months. Then you can wear the retainer only when you sleep. 

What Are The Benefits Of Getting Braces?

The benefits of braces include the ability to: 

  • Prevent gum diseases 
  • Prevent tooth decay 
  • Prevent cavities 
  • Prevent injuries in overbite cases 
  • Prevent bone erosion 
  • Help with digestion 
  • Improve self-confidence 
  • Improve appearance 
  • Improve speech 

How Much Do Braces Cost?

Dental Brace Type Average Costs 
Traditional metal braces $4,500 – $8,000 
Ceramic braces $5,000 – $8,500 
Lingual braces (single arch) $7,500 and up 
Lingual braces (full treatment) $12,500 
Invisalign minor treatments $4,500 and up 
Invisalign full treatments $6,000 – $9,000 
Clear aligners $2,000 – $5,500 

Factors That Can Affect The Cost Of Braces

The type of treatment you require 

Your orthodontist will perform a thorough and detailed examination to determine the best type of braces you will need. Depending on the type chosen, prices will vary.  

The duration of the treatment 

Another factor that can affect the cost is when you will be required to wear the braces. The longer you are required to wear the brace, the higher the overall cost. 

If you require other orthodontic devices 

If you require additional dental devices like headgear, spacers and others, then the cost rises.  

Orthodontist’s fees 

Last but not least, you have the orthodontist’s fees for dental services. This will include everything from consultation fees, installation fees and scheduled maintenance fees.  

Do’s and don’ts when you have a brace. 

Do’s 

  • Avoid all sticky foods, including gum, caramel, etc. 
  • Eat soft foods 
  • Cut up all fruits, veggies and meat into bite-sized pieces before consuming 
  • Ask for a mouth guard if you play sports 
  • Brush your teeth every time you eat 
  • Show up for your scheduled visits. 

Don’ts 

  • Don’t chew on ice, hard candies—other hard foods, fingernails, pencils, etc. 
  • Don’t drink sugary drinks all the time. 
  • Don’t forget to floss often. 
  • Don’t forget to call if something becomes loose or doesn’t feel right.  

Should I Get Clear Aligners Or Braces?

The choice between clear aligners and braces will depend on the issue that needs fixing and your personal preference. The cost between the two can also play a major role as clear aligners are far more expensive than traditional braces. 

However, this expensive option comes with better comfort, invisibility, the option to remove when eating and the ability to clean them better. 

Final Thoughts 

Now that you have a full understanding of dental braces get out there and schedule an appointment and get a treatment plan. Orthodontic treatments can help you to regain your confidence to share your smile with the world again. 

AboutDr. Abhi Singh
Dr Abhi is a member of the Australian Dental Association and loves living and working in our community. He has over a decade of experience in all aspects of dentistry with a special interest in implants, wisdom teeth removal and cosmetic dentistry.