More than 4 million people in the United States and Canada are having their teeth straightened. The reasons for getting braces for teeth vary. Perhaps the most common is to improve one's appearance and thus boost self-esteem but straighter teeth are also less prone to decay and injury.
The branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities is called orthodontics. The technical term for these irregularities is "malocclusion," which means "bad bite." Simply put, there are crooked, crowded or protruding teeth that don't fit together properly. Inherited malocclusions include crowded teeth, gaps between teeth, extra or missing teeth, cleft palate and other irregularities of the jaws and face. Some bad bites are acquired by thumb sucking, tongue thrusting or a dental disease or by premature loss of teeth, accidents or a medical problem.
Without treatment, these problems may lead to tooth decay or gum disease as people with crooked teeth have trouble keeping them clean. Bone destruction and chewing and digestive problems may also occur and might be the cause of or contribute to speech impairments, tooth loss or chipped teeth. A bad bite can cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces and excess stress of the supporting bone and gum tissue. Bringing jaws and teeth into proper alignment by the use of braces for teeth will not only give you a great smile but will also give you a healthy mouth as straight teeth simply work better and are easier to brush properly.
Braces for teeth, along with other orthodontic appliances, can correct most bite problems. They work by applying gentle pressure to teeth so that they move slowly over a period of 12 to 36 months. Adults can have their teeth straightened in only 6 months with a new technology called "High Speed Braces." There has been much progress in the manufacture of braces for teeth over the last fifteen years.
Perhaps the most notable is the elimination of metal bands around front teeth. Instead, small brackets are bonded onto the front teeth, which is a great improvement over the "metal mouth" look of the past. Also, today's brackets can be made of clear or tooth-colored materials to create almost invisible braces for teeth. Lingual braces for teeth can be fitted completely out of sight on the inside of teeth but may not be suitable for everyone.
To summarize, four important benefits derived from braces for teeth are:
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