How Do Braces Work for Adults?

While having braces fitted may have once been thought of as an adolescent rite of passage, more and more adults are now undergoing the same treatment. Thanks to advances in orthodontic technology, there are now numerous ways of correcting teeth misalignment issues regardless of your age. So, how do braces work and will it hurt if you decide to have them fitted later in life?

Dental Braces Explained

Braces are dental devices that are designed to fix crowded or crooked teeth and jaw misalignment (also known as malocclusion). As you may already know, teeth and jaw misalignment issues can lead to a variety of health problems. For instance, they can increase your risk of experiencing gum disease and tooth decay. They can also affect your speech, breathing and even your psychological well-being. 

Braces correct these problems to improve the function of your teeth. They can also enhance your aesthetics, particularly if you are unhappy with your smile.

How Do Braces Work?

Contrary to popular belief, adult teeth don’t always stay in the same place even after they have grown in. Your teeth can move and shift over time because of the constant pressure from chewing and your tongue pushing against them. Although it often goes unnoticed, this movement can result in misalignment, leading to inflammation and the creation of tiny pockets in your gums. If not treated, these small pockets can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, making you prone to severe gum disease. 

So, how do braces work? Well, braces function by exerting constant pressure on your teeth for a significant period of time. Besides moving your teeth into the correct position, they also encourage the shape of your jaw to adapt and conform to this constant pressure. 

Underneath the gums is a membrane surrounded by your bones. This membrane connects your teeth to your jaw and controls their position. When you are wearing braces, it will respond to the pressure they exert and move your teeth accordingly. 

There are different types of teeth braces for adults and children. Each of them comprises several components that work together to correct crowded or crooked teeth, as explained below.

1. Bracket adhesion

After the orthodontist has cleaned and dried your teeth, they will attach brackets using glue. These brackets, which can be made of stainless steel, ceramic or plastic, are responsible for applying pressure on your teeth. Although having them attached to your teeth may be uncomfortable, they won’t cause you any significant pain.

2. Bands

Also known as O-rings or ligatures, elastic bands are placed around the brackets after they have been attached to your teeth. They apply extra pressure on your jaw to move it into place.

3. Spacers

Spacers are usually placed between your molars. They can be made of rubber bands or metal rings, and they work by adding space at the back of your mouth to push your jaw forward. 

However, spacers are not for everyone. Furthermore, they are only used for about two weeks at a time.

4. Archwires

Archwires connect the brackets to your teeth, serving as the mechanism through which pressure is applied. They can be made of stainless steel, nickel-titanium or copper-titanium.

5. Buccal tubes

The buccal tubes are the metal components that can be connected to one of your molars. They anchor the other parts of the braces together at the back of your mouth, allowing your orthodontist to tighten or release them.

6. Springs

In some cases, coil springs are attached to the archwires of your braces. They exert pressure between two of your teeth to add space between them.

What You Need to Know About Having Adult Braces Fitted

If you are worried about getting adult braces fitted in Birmingham because you think it will hurt, don’t be. In fact, it will only take one or two hours to fit your braces. Although you may feel some soreness during the first week after fitting, the procedure shouldn’t cause severe pain. An over-the-counter pain reliever will help ease any discomfort. 

Now that you know the answer to the question “How do braces work?” it’s time to discuss how long you need to wear them for optimum effectiveness. Treatment lengths vary from one patient to another. However, typically, most people will wear braces for one to two years. Complex cases, such as a severe overbite, can take longer and may involve you wearing braces for up to three years. 

Although adults and children undergo the same treatment process, there are certain advantages to getting your teeth misalignment fixed early on in life. Children’s jawlines and the underlying tissue are generally more flexible than those of adults. As a result, their teeth may be more responsive to braces and so the treatment duration can be reduced.

Take the First Step towards Having Beautiful and Healthy Teeth!

Contrary to popular belief, braces can be fitted at any age. If you have developed misalignment issues in adulthood, you can still obtain the orthodontic treatment you need. Braces apply constant pressure on your teeth and jaw to move them to their correct position. In doing so, they help keep your gums and teeth healthy while ensuring you will have the perfect smile you have always wanted. 

At Orthodontics For You, we provide superior orthodontic care to patients of all ages. If you think you may need adult braces, we can offer you treatment that is tailored to your specific requirements. Please get in touch with us today and we will happily answer any questions you might have.


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