Dental braces (also known as orthodontic braces, or simply braces) are devices used in orthodontics that align and straighten teeth and help to position them with regard to a person's bite, while also working to improve dental health. They are often used to correct underbites, as well as malocclusions, overbites, cross bites, open bites, deep bites, crooked teeth, and various other flaws of the teeth and jaw. Braces can be either cosmetic or structural. Dental braces are often used in conjunction with other orthodontic appliances to help widen the palate or jaws and to otherwise assist in shaping the teeth and jaws.
The application of braces moves the teeth as a result of force and pressure on the teeth. There are four basic elements that are needed in order to help move the teeth. In the case of traditional metal or wire braces, one uses brackets, bonding material, arch wire, and ligature elastic, also called an “O-ring” to help align the teeth. The teeth move when the arch wire puts pressure on the brackets and teeth. Sometimes springs or rubber bands are used to put more force in a specific direction. Braces have constant pressure, which over time, move teeth into their proper positions. Occasionally adults may need to wear headgear to keep certain teeth from moving. When braces put pressure on one's teeth, the periodontal membrane stretches on one side and is compressed on the other. This movement needs to be done slowly otherwise the patient risks losing his or her teeth. This is why braces are commonly worn for approximately two and a half years and adjustments are only made every three or four weeks.
Research reveals positive attitude to braces but low awareness of the invisible lingual option.
New research from Ipsos MORI indicates that 18 per cent of the population of England and Wales believe their teeth would benefit from straightening with braces. Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence from orthodontists shows that people are prepared to make financial sacrifices to have treatment and see it as a valuable investment.
The survey of 877 people in England and Wales, aged 15 and over, was commissioned by the British Lingual Orthodontic Society (BLOS) to assess awareness, attitudes and experience of orthodontics with a focus on braces fitted behind the teeth. The most important finding for BLOS is that 72 per cent of people are unaware of invisible lingual braces.
Lingual treatment is suited to people who do not want their braces to be visible or who want treatment to be discreet. Current patients are from all walks of life whether teachers, police officers, business people, actors or models. Kelly Brook is one of a number of celebrities known to have had lingual treatment. Other attitudes revealed by the survey:
-- People living in the South East are more likely to believe they need braces. Of those living in the South East of England, 30 per cent felt their teeth would benefit from orthodontics compared to seven per cent of those living in the South West.
-- Gender does not greatly affect outlook among those who felt their teeth would benefit from treatment: 18 per cent of men responded positively compared to 19 per cent of women.
-- Asked whether they would consider giving orthodontics as a present to a friend or a loved one, six per cent of those interviewed said they definitely would, equating to 3.1million people in England and Wales.