Dental braces are a way of straightening or moving your teeth, to improve how they look and how they work. Braces can also help you look after the long-term health of your teeth and gums and make eating more comfortable, by spreading the biting pressure across all your teeth.
Braces work by putting pressure on the teeth, to slowly move them in the right direction. As the pressure takes effect, the bone in the jaw changes to allow the teeth and their roots to move.
The best time to have braces is generally during childhood. But adults can have orthodontic treatment too – and more and more are doing this. Age is less important than having healthy teeth and gums. Children may have to wait for enough teeth to come through before starting treatment.
It is important that your mouth is fit and healthy before you have orthodontic treatment. Some patients can’t have orthodontic treatment – for example, if they have advanced gum disease. Only an orthodontist can decide whether you are able to have orthodontics.
Some of the most common reasons are:
- overcrowded or crooked teeth
- not enough, or too much, spacing between your teeth
- upper front teeth that stick out (called an ‘overjet’)
- lower teeth that bite too far behind your upper teeth (called an ‘overbite’)
- upper front teeth that bite behind your lower ones (called an ‘underbite’)
- the appearance of your smile