The specialty within the field of dentistry dedicated to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of abnormalities in the shape, position and function of teeth and jaws is called orthodontics. This is especially relevant for this subject since orthodontists are the ones who should be in charge of recommending and applying treatments involving dental braces and retainers.
Just to be on the same page, is important that we define the differences between dental braces and retainers.
Dental Braces are a series of metal brackets placed on top of your teeth and supported by wires and rubber elastics. Their purpose is very simple, to exert pressure and force teeth to a particular position and alignment. The most important characteristic of braces is that they are not removable.
Retainers are similar to braces, but they are mostly made of molded plastic and have a small wire that usually sits on top of the teeth. They also exert pressure but are removable, so any effective treatment will require a minimum amount of use/day.
Usually, braces are the primary method to correct orthodontic problems, people use them for a determined amount of time, then, the braces are removed and replaced with retainers. This is mainly because not using these devices as a form of transition leads to a recurrence of the original problem.
Most of the time, retainers are prescribed for a lifetime as a form of maintenance procedure. 24h/day during the first 6 to 8 months after the removal of braces and then at least 8 hours/day for the rest of your life is the most common recommendation.
Who Need Them?
People of all ages can use these devices; however, children and adolescents are the most frequent users. Is estimated that 75% of all people under 18 experience some kind of spacing of alignment problem. Some of the most common problems include:
Large spaces between the teeth
Misaligned Dental Midlines
The doctor uses a protractor to keep your cheeks away from your teeth.
He/ she will polish your teeth to create a better surface for the braces.
For the same reason, a conditioner will be applied to the surface of your teeth, this procedure usually takes 30 seconds and the conditioner is then cleaned.
Teeth will then be dried.
An adhesive primer will be applied to promote better binding of the braces.
Dental cement will then be applied at the back of the brackets.
The brackets will be placed on the previously determined places where the cement is still wet.
Excess cement will be removed.
A dental curing light will be used to force the polymerization (hardening) of the cement, fixating the brackets.
At this point the protractor will be removed.
Several wires will be placed to support the brackets and exert pressure on the teeth.
After Initial Procedure
After the procedure is complete, after the first 3 to 10 weeks the doctor will ask you to come back for the firsts adjustments. Braces are not “smart” devices, as your teeth change position the wires and elastics will need to be modified (tightened, removed, etc). If these adjustments are not made, treatment will be ineffective. During certain periods, the wires and elastics (not the brackets) will be completely removed so you can brush your teeth thoroughly.
There is considerable discomfort and pain after each adjustment (and the first procedure). We recommend normal over the counter pain medication to manage those situations.
Other types of dental braces do exist, however, the main differences between them tend to be mostly aesthetic.
Retainers don’t require such a complicated procedure, they are simply custom-made devices mainly made out of plastic, PVC or acrylic. There are several types of retainers (all with the same purpose), the most popular ones are the “invisible” or Essix, that are basically trays molded in the shape of your teeth. The “classic” retainers with wires are also known as “Hawley” and have already been discussed in this article. Retainers also need to be adjusted every one in a while.
Braces are expensive, the actual price will depend on many factors; however, getting high-end braces from a well-known establishment can cost up to 270.000 Rs.
Retainers are much cheaper, usually the price range for them goes from 150 to 500 Rs.
If you or your children suffer from spacing or alignment problems and want to correct your/their smile, then braces and retainer may be in your future. With the information provided in this article you’ll know what to expect. Naturally, before making an appointment to go through the procedure we recommend consulting a dentist.