Q. Who needs braces?
A. Few people are born with naturally straight teeth that aligned perfectly. Therefore, almost everyone can benefit from braces.
We recommend initial evaluation for children beginning around age 7, and adults can be treated at any age. Preventative maintenance, a limited orthodontic treatment begun around age 7, can simplify or even eliminate the need for full orthodontic treatment, since it can encourage jaw growth and correct problems early.
Q. Why invest in braces?
A. When left untreated, many orthodontic problems may become worse. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain, making them prime targets for tooth decay, gum disease and other health concerns. Plus, improper jaw alignment can put stress on the jaw, gum tissue and supporting bone—even causing chronic headaches or face and neck pain.
Straight teeth, however, help people bite, chew and speak more effectively, while also contributing to healthier teeth and gums. Properly aligned teeth and jaws may also alleviate or prevent physical health problems. Teeth that work better also tend to look better.
Q. How do braces work?
A. By applying constant gentle pressure in a specific direction, braces slowly move teeth to a new position. Springs and wires put pressure on teeth in order to straighten them. The pressure causes the bone in the jaw to dissolve in front of the moving tooth as new bone grows behind the tooth.
Q. What causes orthodontic problems?
A. Most orthodontic problems are inherited, such as crowding or too much space between teeth. However, some abnormalities are caused by accidents, thumb-sucking and pacifier use (particularly after age four), dental disease or even airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids.
Q. How long does treatment usually last?
A. Every patient is different, and some people respond to treatment more quickly than others. Generally, the active treatment time (wearing braces) ranges from one to three years, depending on the complexity of the case. Preventative (early) procedures may only take a few months.
Q. Are there less noticeable braces?
A. Yes, today’s braces are significantly smaller, have a lower profile and are more efficient. In addition to metal, there are clear braces and white braces or even virtually "invisible" (thanks to a solution called Invisalign®).