Successful orthodontic treatment involves an active “partnership” between the orthodontist, dentist, hygienist, and patient. This means that, generally, patients who follow instructions well and keep their appointments finish their treatment on time—with great results.
Although treatment plans are customized for each child, most patients wear braces from one to two years, depending on the types of problems involved, followed by a period of wearing a “retainer” that holds teeth in their new positions.
Although a little tenderness is expected during treatment, today’s braces are more comfortable, because newer materials apply a constant, gentle force that move teeth more easily and usually require fewer “adjustments.”
Today’s braces can be as unnoticeable—or noticeable—as you want them to be. Brackets—part of the braces that are attached to each tooth—are smaller and can sometimes even be attached to the back surface of the tooth. In addition, braces can be clear, or tooth-colored.
Orthodontist will recommend ceramic braces as a good option for someone who does not want their braces to be as noticeable. There is no difference in the speed of treatment between metal and ceramic braces in most cases.
In the future, braces may feature tooth-colored or clear wiring. Orthodontists are already using advanced materials such as fluoride-releasing cements (substances that bind the brackets to the tooth), which help to keep teeth healthy.
One last thing: don’t worry about braces getting in the way of your child’s favorite activities. Ask your orthodontist for helpful hints to make braces more accommodating and comfortable if your child plays a musical instrument or engages in sports. With braces, your children can still wear protective mouthguards that have been properly fitted by your child’s orthodontist or dentist.
For children as well as adults, traditional fixed braces are still the type of appliance most commonly used by orthodontists worldwide. They reliably deliver a high degree of control over the final positioning of the teeth.
Today, some kids like to “show off” their braces— choosing to wear heart- or football-shaped brackets and elastics (rubber bands) in school colors and holiday hues, such as Fourth of July red-white-and-blue. There are even gold-plated braces and glow-in-the-dark retainers!