The first modern braces for teeth were invented two hundred years ago in 1819 by Christophe-Francois Delabarre, and they’ve been in use ever since. Much has changed with the technology and effectiveness of braces since then, but the fundamental concepts are still the same: to apply gentle but constant pressure on teeth to move them into a correct biting position.
However, who needs braces? How do you know when your teeth need a little push in the right direction, or if they’re perfectly fine the way they are? Moreover, what are your options if you do need braces?
Read on, and we’ll go over it step by step.
How Old Should You Be To Get Braces?
Firstly, you are never too old for braces! Braces are generally not used until all of the permanent teeth are in place, around 11-12 years of age depending on the child. Before this, other orthodontic appliances like ‘plates’ are used to guide the growth of the top and bottom jaws to make space for adult teeth to come through. These appliances are usually still followed by braces.
So anyone who has their permanent teeth can get braces?
Yes — anyone! There’s a popular conception that braces and orthodontics are for teenagers, but even adults who didn’t have the opportunity to get braces in their youth can benefit from orthodontic treatment.
Signs You Need Braces
Now we know there’s a lower age limit, let’s look at the actual signs which show you need to consider getting braces.
Teeth Came Out Too Early/Late/Irregularly
Baby teeth that fall out too early, too late, or irregularly can be a good indication that someone’s going to need braces. If your child’s baby teeth aren’t falling out when expected, or as expected, book an appointment with the dentist.
Your Teeth Are Crowded
Crowding is when teeth overlap. It’s like there’s not enough space for the teeth, so they have to bunch up together. This can affect your ability to bite and chew and can damage the teeth over time as they press against each other.
Your Teeth Are Misaligned
Sometimes teeth will be crooked or tilted on their axis. In either case, this can lead to teeth rubbing against each other. This wears down enamel, pushes teeth out of position, and can increase the risk of breaking or chipping teeth.
You Have Difficulty Chewing
Even if there’s no visibly obvious problem with the look of your teeth, you might still find you have difficulty using them correctly. This can be a sign you need some orthodontic help to correct your bite.
Your Jaw Pops, Shifts and Clicks
A jaw that shifts or makes sounds can indicate a problem with the alignment of your bite. Orthodontic treatment should be able to correct this. Consult with your dentist, as there are other causes.
You Have Difficulty Breathing Through Your Nose
The position of your bite influences how your jaw is positioned and the positioning of your jaw can close your airways if it is positioned poorly. This is often seen in patients with sleep apnoea, whose jaws shift back while they sleep, blocking their airways. Again, orthodontic treatment may be the solution here.
There is a multitude of orthodontic options available for patients today. Orthodontists have been hard at work over the decades developing new and exciting technologies to align teeth while minimising discomfort.
It might be a surprise that traditional metal wire-and-bracket braces are still the most popular choice, but if you consider the following, it’s easy to understand:
– They have decades of successful use behind them.
– They provide reliable and predictable results.
– They can treat a large variety of cases, from the simplest misalignment to fairly significant complications.
– They’re affordable.
Simply put, they’re cost-effective and deliver fantastic results. They may not be the latest technological development, but they are a tried and tested workhorse that will likely be around for many years to come.
However, on the flip side, we also see that clear aligners are very popular choices these days. These are the newest thing orthodontists have given to the orthodontic toolkit. Rather than using wire and brackets, these systems — such as Invisalign — use clear plastic aligners to push your teeth into place gently. Every two weeks or so you replace one set of aligners with the next, and so on
Clear aligners certainly have some benefits over traditional braces, such as:
– They’re almost invisible, making them perfect for busy adults.
– You can take them out when you want to eat and clean your teeth.
– No special cleaning or diet necessary.
However, they do also have some drawbacks:
They can’t treat as wide a variety of cases.
They’re reliant on patients remembering to put them back in place after taking them out — something we find our younger orthodontic patients aren’t the best at!
Your dentist will be in the best position to advise you which system is the best for your case, taking into account the state of your mouth, your social needs, and your budget.
If you think you need braces to help fix your teeth, contact our team today. We will be happy to give you a thorough assessment and work out the best course of treatment that suits you.