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An orthodontic problem is called a malocclusion, meaning "bad bite." Some examples of causes of malocclusion are crowded teeth, extra teeth, missing teeth or jaws that are out of alignment. Most malocclusions are inherited, although some can be acquired. Acquired malocclusions can be caused by accidents, early or late loss of baby teeth, or sucking of the thumb or fingers for a prolonged period of time. Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics. It is recommended that every child receive an orthodontic evaluation by age seven. Treatment may take a little longer for adults. Because an adult's facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections may not be accomplished with braces alone. The average treatment time is about 24 months and varies with individual patients. Usually, adult treatment takes a little longer than a child's treatment.

Orthodontics are an excellent means of correcting crooked or misaligned teeth. They can dramatically affect your appearance, but importantly, orthodontics can also correct TMJ disorder as well as reduce your susceptibility to dental decay and periodontal disease.

Typically, orthodontic treatment consists of the application of small ceramic, or metal brackets to the teeth. These brackets are attached to an arch wire which helps shape the teeth. Often springs and rubber bands are also used to help move the teeth.

Treatment usually takes from one to three years to complete. The amount of time depends on the cooperation of the patient and the difficulty of the case. Once treatment is over, it may be necessary to use a retainer for several years; however, in some cases, a small permanent retainer can be bonded to the teeth.

Types of Orthodontic Braces and Brackets

Several kinds of orthodontic braces can be used to reposition teeth. Damon brackets and ceramic brackets are two of the most popular types of dental braces. Patients can choose from ceramic braces, plastic ( clear braces), or stainless steel ( metal braces). Stainless steel is a practical material, and the most common, but ceramic or plastic can be used for cosmetic purposes. Before you decide on a method of treatment, you should always check with your orthodontist to find out what kinds of orthodontic braces are offered, and what dental insurance plans are accepted.

“Clear or tooth Colored" Brackets

Clear braces utilize less noticeable brackets for patients concerned about the appearance of their smile. These brackets are translucent, so they blend in with your natural tooth color. This means that unlike traditional stainless metal braces, clear braces won’t make your smile look "metallic." In addition, clear braces are designed so that they won’t stain or discolor over long periods of time. Clear ceramic braces are an aesthetic alternative for those who don't want their braces to show as much. They are extremely comfortable to wear and very efficient at moving teeth.

Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces may also be required for those needing extensive realignment. Your orthodontist will advise you whether metal orthodontic braces are necessary for your treatment. They are the most popular type of brackets used. Many patients enjoy having different colors placed on their braces as a means of personal expression and fun. Because it's so simple to change the colors, feel free to swap them at every visit.

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