How does orthodontic treatment work?
Orthodontic treatment consists of two phases of treatment: the active orthodontic phase and the retention orthodontic phase. The active orthodontic phase involves the use of braces, bands, wires and such to move the teeth into their new position. The retention orthodontic phase involves the use of a dental retainer to keep the teeth in their new position.
What are braces?
Traditional orthodontic dental braces move teeth by applying continuous pressure in a particular direction. The pressure applied by the orthodontic braces will generally have to be adjusted many times over the course of the orthodontic treatment.
When using orthodontic dental braces, treatment can last anywhere from one to three years, and sometimes longer depending on your age and the type and severity of your problem. Orthodontic dental braces consist of brackets, which are applied to the teeth with a bonding agent, and arch wires. The arched wires thread through the brackets and guide the teeth to their new position. Orthodontic dental braces are made of stainless steel, plastic, or ceramic. Plastic or ceramic are chosen for cosmetic purposes.
What are retainers?
Orthodontic dental retainers are orthodontic appliances made of plastic and stainless steel wire and are used to hold the teeth in their new position after a patient's orthodontic braces have been removed. The orthodontic retainer keeps the teeth in their new position while the surrounding bone and gums adjust around them. Retainers can be attached to the teeth or removable. The length of time that the orthodontic retainer must be worn will vary.
How should I take care of my teeth?
The simple task of brushing and flossing regularly becomes even more important for people who have braces, since the brackets catch and retain food particles and plaque much more easily. It is important to brush carefully after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft bristled toothbrush and floss between braces and under wires using floss threaders. It is also important to have regular cleanings to keep your gums and teeth healthy. Having braces may mean having to visit your dentist or dental hygienist more frequently. To prevent damage to your braces you should avoid eating sticky foods and chewing on hard foods, popcorn, ice, nuts or other hard objects.