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Dental or orthodontic braces are used to correct crooked teeth or the
misalignment of teeth in the upper and lower jaw. Earlier braces
were used mainly on children, since their teeth were not fully developed.
Today, they are increasingly used by adults to align their teeth
perfectly. Adults may prefer to use
Sometimes, dental braces may not be effective, if the underlying cause like mouth breathing is not treated. The teeth may revert to their original position after the braces are removed. If teeth are improperly aligned, the risk of cavities increases since food particles accumulate in the gap between the teeth.
The slow pressure applied by the dental braces straighten the teeth and keep them aligned. Braces have 3 basic parts - brackets which are attached to each tooth, a band to attach the bracket to the tooth and an arch wire which connects brackets on different teeth. In many cases, there is not sufficient space in the mouth for all teeth to fit properly. In such cases, healthy teeth may have to be extracted. Alternately the palate may have to be made larger using an expander, but this is not possible in adults, where the jaw bone is fully developed.
The duration for which a person has to wear braces varies from six months to six years depending on the alignment of the teeth. On an average, most children wear braces for two years. After the braces have been removed, the orthodontist will prescribe suitable retainers so that the teeth do not get misaligned again.
Plaque is a common problem for persons wearing dental braces, since food particles are retained around the braces. Mouth ulcers / canker sores may be formed due to certain components of the braces. If braces are not properly made or fitted, there can fine fractures in the tooth which could cause the tooth to break off at a later date.
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