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Braces for Your Teeth

Do you like the way your teeth look? No one has perfect teeth. Some people's teeth are crowded together. Other people have too much space between their teeth. Sometimes the upper teeth don't match the lower teeth when a person bites down. For some people the problem isn't so bad. But others may need braces to make their teeth straighter.

Braces are not just to make your smile look good. It's hard to brush crowded or crooked teeth. If your teeth don't get clean, they can get cavities and other problems.

There are special dentists who can tell if you need braces and can fit you with them if you do. They are called orthodontists.

How Do Braces Work?

Braces put pressure against the teeth. Most of the pressure comes from a metal wire that goes across the outside of the teeth. Very slowly this pressure makes the teeth move and become straight.

The orthodontist adjusts the wire just a little bit every few weeks. The small changes in the wire allow the braces to move the teeth slowly. This is important. If the braces make the teeth move too fast, it can cause the teeth to become loose.

Because the teeth only can be moved slowly, you'll need to wear braces for about two years. After that you'll need to wear a plastic retainer over your teeth. This will keep them in their new position until bones grow around the teeth to hold them in place permanently.

What Do Braces Look Like?

One wire goes across all of your top teeth and another goes across your bottom teeth. It is held in place by small pieces of metal or ceramic that are put on each tooth. These pieces can be clear or tooth-colored. But then the fun begins. The elastic ties that hold the wire to the pieces come in colors. You can get them to show your school spirit, support your favorite sports team, or celebrate an upcoming holiday. The ties can be changed when the orthodontist adjusts the wire.

How to Take Care of Your Teeth with Braces

When you have braces, you'll have to be very good about following the brushing and flossing instructions your orthodontist gives you.

You can't eat hard, sticky or gooey foods such as jawbreakers, peanuts, ice cubes, caramel, or taffy. Those kinds of foods can break or bend the wires or brackets or get caught in the braces and cause cavities.

If you think you need braces, talk to your mom and dad.

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