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Advances in technology have vastly improved appearance issues with orthodontia. Braces today are made from extremely lightweight and natural-colored materials. The materials that braces attach to – brackets – are bonded to the surfaces of teeth but can be later removed.

People can expect to wear braces for about two years – less or more in some cases. Adults are usually required to wear braces for longer periods of time.

Comfort issues

Because orthodontic appliances need to be adjusted from time to time to ensure they continue to move the teeth into their correct position, they can create pressure on the teeth and jaws. This mild discomfort usually subsides following each orthodontia adjustment.

Hygiene issues

People who wear braces must be diligent in ensuring that food particles and other debris do not get trapped in the network of brackets and wires. In addition, brackets can leave stains on enamel if the area surrounding them is not cleaned on a daily basis.

Daily oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing and rinsing are a necessity. Some people with orthodontic appliances can benefit from using water picks, which emit small pressurized bursts of water that can effectively rinse away such debris.

Another caveat: Braces and sticky foods don’t mix. Naturally, crunchy snacks and chewy substances should be avoided at all costs because they can cause orthodontia to be loosened or damaged.

Retainers

When braces are removed, the patient is often fitted with a special device called a retainer, such as the name implies, retains the proper arch and location of the teeth (which can sometimes shift out of position without a retainer).

Space maintainers

Space maintainers are nifty devices that can help teeth grow in normally following premature tooth loss, injury or other problems.

The devices can help ensure that proper spaces are maintained to allow future permanent teeth to erupt.

If your child loses a baby tooth early through decay or injury, his or her other teeth could shift and begin to fill the vacant space. When your child's permanent teeth emerge, there's not enough room for them. The result is crooked or crowded teeth and difficulties with chewing or speaking.

Other appliances that correct jaw-growth problems

  • Bionator – This is a device that helps both jaws grow in proportion to one another. A bionator usually keeps the lower jaw forward, and helps teeth to properly erupt, leading to a natural and correct bite relationship.
  • Headgear – Such a device, worn for several hours a day, exerts a specified amount of pressure on the upper mouth, teeth and jaws) and is used to ensure proper eruption of upper teeth and guide upper jaw growth direction.
  • Herbst – This kind of device is affixed semi-permanently to both sets of molars, and keeps the lower jaw from shifting backward, preventing protruding upper teeth.
  • Palatal expansion device – A narrow upper jaw can sometimes cause a crossbite (when lower and upper teeth don’t fit properly). A palatal expansion device is applied to the upper teeth near the back of the mouth, helping the upper jaw width to expand.
  • Upper jaw expansion appliance – Narrow upper jaws also can be corrected with a device that gradually widens them over time.