Past president of the American Association of Orthodontics, Terry Pracht, DDS, says that both heredity and environmental factors can create crooked teeth and bite issues. Dr. Pracht mentions that inherited factors include crowded teeth, too much space in the teeth, and malocclusions. He also notes that crooked teeth can be caused by biting the thumb and thrusting the tongue, as well as injuries that occur in the mouth.
There are three stages of treatment with orthodontics. The first is when you use appliances to obtain mouth space. After the braces are placed on the teeth, the active corrective stage is next. The teeth will then be modified and straightened, and malocclusions will be repaired over a period of time based on the severity of the teeth and jaw defects. The third stage is the retention period following the removal of braces and when the teeth are checked by using a retainer (removable or fixed) and semi-annual orthodontic appointments to keep the smile straight.
Braces from over 30 years ago featured large metal bands around each tooth that were sealed and cemented. Based on what the orthodontist recommends for treatment, braces can be applied to the cheek side of the teeth as well as the tongue side of the teeth. Braces, archwires, and bands can be colorful and fun to choose from for children, teens, and adolescents.
Today, small brackets are placed on the tooth's front surface and made of metal or ceramic. The braces are attached with a glue-like substance to the front tooth surface, and it is possible to use metal bands on the back teeth. Archwires are mounted inside the brackets. They are made of a heat-activated source of nickel-titanium that can warm up due to the temperature in the mouth, allowing constant pressure on the teeth as well as adjustment of the archwires at the orthodontist's office.
Another new alternative to braces is the Invisalign ® system, which uses a series of clear removable alignors that are worn day and night to help move the teeth in the right alignment. The aligners can be removed when eating or brushing and flossing.
The orthodontist, dentist or dental hygienist will give you detailed instructions on how to clean the braces properly. There are many toothbrushes that you can use all manuals (specifically designed for patients with orthodontics), strength, electrical or sonic. Ask your dentist what is best for you. Brushing should be done at least 2-3 times a day in a back and forth motion at an angle of 45 degrees. To prevent gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue), be sure to remove plaque on the gum line. To avoid plaque and food particles, make sure to point the toothbrush at the gum line and then brush softly around the caps.
Cleaning between your teeth with a floss threader and floss is very necessary, if there is room between your teeth, a stimulant (tooth pick cleaner) or a proxabrush (interproximal cleaning brush) can be used. It may be recommended that oral irrigators extract food debris and irrigate the gum tissue to remove infection and odor-causing bacteria that may be present if gingivitis is present. It is also possible to use an antibacterial toothpaste, and antimicrobial mouth rinses over-the-counter with an oral irrigator.