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Nine myths about teeth braces

1 – Braces are for children and I am too old to get my teeth straight.

Wrong. There are no age limitations to orthodontic treatment. If the teeth, gums, and the bone holding the teeth are healthy, teeth straightening can be done in any age. Every fifth patient that starts orthodontic treatment is a grownup and the number tends to grow. Of course, it is best to make bite corrections while the child is in active growth period because then it can influence the teeth and jaw growing in the right direction. It is possible to get straight teeth and beautiful smile in every age and only the treatment methods and approaches can vary.

2 – Braces are ugly and attract unnecessary attention.

Wrong. Nowadays the classic metal braces are also made smaller and less visible. Also braces from ceramics or sapphire are available that is white or see-through, hence not that visible. Teeth straightening can also be done by placing the braces on the inside of teeth arc (tongue side) so they are invisible while smiling and speaking and makes orthodontic treatment completely invisible to others.

3- Teeth straightening is a painful process.

True partially. There is a big difference between discomfort and pain. Time is needed to get used to all orthodontic equipment, including braces. Putting on braces isn’t painful and the discomfort is related to a strange feeling for the lips and tongue, but mostly it’s for a few days up to a week after putting on the braces. The sensations related to teeth moving are very individual, but it could mostly be characterized as a feeling of pressure and pulling. Teeth straightening with braces happens gradually with light strength that lessens the discomfort in the time of teeth regulation.  

4 – The only reason for starting orthodontic treatment is for teeth straightening.

True partially. Most patients really do go to the orthodontists for teeth straightening. But there are many cases when the orthodontic treatment includes teeth straightening, correction of bite, and changing of habits (for example, correction of wrong tongue position in mouth and its function). Hence not only the  look of the smile is improved, but in many cases the aesthetics of face as well, also teeth and gum health (indirectly), chewing function, pushing jaw and teeth into the right direction and positions for children. After the first consultation the orthodontist can suggest different treatment solutions that can include treatment with a simple teeth straightening, as well as more difficult treatment approaches that change teeth, jaw, lip, and chin positions.

5 – Orthodontic treatment and braces damage teeth.

Wrong. Neither braces nor any other orthodontic equipment doesn’t damage teeth. Braces are glued to the surface of teeth with a special material that can be easily cleaned off after taking off the braces and doesn’t damage the teeth in any way. The health of teeth can be affected if in the period of orthodontic treatment teeth aren’t properly cleaned and the oral hygiene isn’t in a high level. If around the braces or any other teeth regulation fixtures there is a layer of plaque and it isn’t regularly (at least 2 times a day) cleaned off then under plaque teeth can start having damages.

6 – To properly regulate teeth, one or several tooth will have to be pulled out.

Only true partially. Some orthodontists say that each case can be dealt without pulling out any teeth. It is true – in very many cases it is possible to put teeth in one straight line without pulling out any teeth. But most important is the aspect – how teeth will integrate into the aesthetics of face after regulation and where will they be in the bone that holds teeth. If after the regulation teeth are very outward and it is hard for the patient to close his lips, then we wouldn’t consider those straight teeth a beautiful smile, also the health and long-term stability of gums can be endangered (teeth can grow back in the old positions). Many cases can be treated without pulling out any teeth but the face aesthetics as well as gum and bone health has to be carefully evaluated.

7 – After taking off the braces, the result will stay as it is for a lifetime.

True partially. Teeth and bite regulation is only a part of the battle that a patient must go through. Maintaining the result is just as important part of the treatment. Teeth can go back in the old positions for several reasons. First of all, teeth are held into the bone by different fibres and by moving them into a different positions, time is necessary for the fibres and teeth holding bone to strengthen in the new positions. Some of these fibres don’t change but can be stretched and pressed and will try to pull teeth back in the old positions for a very long time. Second of all, human body changes all the time and teeth positions aren’t permanent as well. In the process of growth and ageing, by changing soft tissue balance and the health of teeth holding gum and bone, teeth positions can also be subject to changes. That’s why it is very important to use orthodontic retainers or the retaining equipment (plates, caps, glued wires) after the orthodontic treatment according to orthodontist’s instructions, to maintain the beautiful smile.

8 –Teeth straightening isn’t possible if some teeth are already lost (pulled out).

Wrong. Orthodontic treatment is often done to adults or teenagers who have already lost teeth for some reason (damaged, broken). In these cases orthodontic treatment is planned taking into consideration the situation. If the teeth that are side by side aren’t straight, are tilted or have moved to the places of lost teeth, they can be straightened and in the empty spaces they can be pushed together. Depending on the amount of lost teeth orthodontic treatment is planned only for braces or by combining orthodontic treatment with prosthetics (implants, placing dental bridges).

9 – Orthodontists treat only difficult cases.

Wrong. Orthodontics is a dentistry field that deals with correcting wrong jaw and teeth positions. To become a certified doctor - orthodontist in Latvia, after getting a dentistry speciality certificate it is necessary to finish additional 3 year learning programme. The knowledge also has to be constantly improved in congresses and courses by following the newest and best orthodontic treatment methods. Doctors - orthodontists can solve both simple and very difficult orthodontic cases and they know what treatment strategies, equipment, and approaches are necessary in these cases.

Article author: Iveta Indriksone, certified orthodontist of RSU Institute of Stomatology, DDS, MRCSEd