Over the past few years, there has been a misconception as to the use of braces. For some teens and adolescents, braces are some sort of luxury for the affluent and braces-wearers are considered to be very rich. People with little or no knowledge about the use of braces tend to be more swayed to the notion that they will be more recognized as “bougie” if they have braces on their teeth. However, orthodontics goes beyond that. Inquiring minds want to know if braces are a fashion statement or a necessity? Well, let us find out.
Dental braces are devices that are placed directly on teeth in order to move them into a desired position. This falls under a dental specialty called orthodontics. Orthodontics is a specialty in dentistry that deals with how teeth are met and function, how they are aligned, how they are set in the jaws, and the positioning and sizes of the upper and lower jaws. An expert in this field is referred to as an orthodontist and they receive about 3-4 more years of education and training beyond the usual 6 years in dental school in Ghana.
Braces are used to correct bad bites and misalignment of teeth. In certain instances, your teeth may be straight but your upper and lower jaws may not be meeting properly. These tooth and jaw alignment problems may be inherited or they could result from injury, early or late tooth loss, or certain habits during childhood such as thumb/finger sucking and nail-biting. Individuals with overcrowding of teeth, overlapping of teeth, wrong positioning of a tooth, gaps in between teeth, failure of the top and bottom front teeth to meet when you bite, deep bites, protruded upper or lower teeth all benefit from orthodontic treatment. Your dentist or orthodontist may recommend braces or another form of orthodontic treatment to straighten out your smile. Not correcting an abnormal bite may lead to further oral health problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, jaw problems, abnormal wear to the teeth and affected speech or chewing. There is no age limit to correcting your smile.
Straightening of a smile with braces can be done in so many ways and this will depend on your preference and the options provided by your orthodontist. The traditional braces apply pressure on teeth in order to realign them. They consist of small brackets that are cemented to the teeth, connected to a wire which is tightened periodically by your orthodontist in order to gradually shift your teeth and jaw. The wire is held to the brackets with an elastic which is available in different colors and can be changed when you go for your periodic checks. On the other hand, brackets may be metal or tooth-colored. Newer forms of braces include the clear aligners which is a removable brace system that uses a series of custom-moulded aligners to move your teeth. The great thing about this type is that they are transparent and invisible therefore nobody will realize that you are undergoing treatment unless you tell them. Every two weeks, you will have to replace the old aligner for a new one which will continue to guide your teeth in the necessary directions
The cost of braces will depend on the country you are having them done in since certain countries such as the United Kingdom allow insurances to take care of the cost. However, is usually out-of-pocket in other countries such as Ghana and there are flexible payment plans. The average time length for wearing braces varies between 16-18 months but some can have them on as long as 3 years depending on certain factors.
In conclusion, braces are not for fashion but are rather functional. The first step is to seek expert care and have your teeth checked. Your dentist will refer you to see an orthodontist if he or she realizes the need after a general dental checkup.
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Credit: Dr Michael Awua-Mensah
(@Dr_Awua on Instagram)
Airport Residential Area, Accra.
A member of the Ghana Dental Association (GDA)