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Braces and Orthodontics: Your Dental Health

The link between braces and orthodontics and dental health

Did you know that there are direct links between maintaining your dental health and having straight teeth?

Remarkably, straighter teeth can be healthier teeth which can often be one of the primary drivers if you’re deciding to have orthodontics and braces.

What’s the link between dental health and braces?

Throughout the day, your teeth will build up a natural biofilm on their surface, this film is called plaque. This is a sticky layer which bacteria hide in. It’s really important that this sticky layer is removed each day otherwise it will form into hard deposits known as tartar.

Tartar can then irritate the gum causing the gum to become inflamed which can then lead to gingivitis.

Tartar buildup around tooth Causing gingivitis

Bacteria also like to lurk in this tartar, when the bacteria feed on the sugar in your diet they excrete acid and this acid will attack your teeth causing dental decay and cavities.

One of the hardest to reach areas when cleaning your teeth is in between them, this is why you often see tartar building up in these areas. To keep tartar at bay it is advisable to use a string of dental floss or an interdental brush daily… And this is where the link with straight teeth comes in. It is far easier to clean in between your teeth with a piece of floss or brush if your teeth are straight.

Floss in between your teeth

If your teeth are rotated or crooked it can be extremely difficult to clean this otherwise difficult to reach area.

Straight teeth, on the other hand, make it far easier to get the floss in between or push a brush or interdental stick between your teeth.

Let’s look at some more links between orthodontics and maintaining good dental health. (Plus we’ll also take a deeper look at some of the other orthodontic options available to you.)

Dental Health

Do you have to get rid of cavities before having braces?

Dental cavities forming

Ideally yes. If you have fixed orthodontics with brackets and wires these can make it even more difficult to clean in between your teeth. Good oral health is really important if you have fixed orthodontics to ensure cavities don’t appear, you stand very little chance of doing this if you already have cavities before you have braces.

Even if you have a removable orthodontic system such as the Invisalign or ClearSmile Aligner,  it’s still really important that you don’t have any cavities. Removable orthodontic systems can still hold acid-causing bacteria up against your teeth for extended periods of time, thereby exacerbating the development of any existing cavities.

Can braces cause a tooth to die?

Theoretically, it is possible for a tooth to die whilst having orthodontics although it would be extremely difficult to prove a causal link between these 2 events. What you see above the gum is only part of the tooth, the remaining part (the root) is underneath the gum and embedded in the bone of your jaw. The root contains all the blood vessels and nerves required to keep the tooth the alive and so these also need to move with the tooth in order to maintain its vitality. Your body is an amazing piece of biological engineering and is quite capable of allowing this to happen.

A tooth dying whilst having braces is likely to either because by trauma to the tooth, for example by playing contact sports or by having extreme dental decay which was not detected prior to having the orthodontic braces. This is why it is incredibly important that you have your orthodontics undertaken by a suitably qualified dentist who can then monitor your treatment throughout.

Can I wear braces over root canal treated teeth?

Yes, root canal treated teeth will move just as easily as vital teeth. The only concern with braces and root canal treated teeth is that the orthodontics should only be carried out if you have a healthy root structure. If the tooth is in the process of becoming mobile and loose due to a non-healthy root canal then orthodontics would be contraindicated. Your prescribing dentist will be able to see this in any x-rays.

What happens if you don’t brush teeth while you have braces?

If you don’t brush your teeth whilst you have braces you dramatically increase your risk of developing tooth decay. Braces provide places for the bacteria in your mouth to hide, when the bacteria digest their food they excrete acid and it is this acid which attacks your tooth. You should wait 30 minutes after eating and then always brush your teeth if you have braces. If you have a removable appliance, we also recommend you brush the inside surface of the appliance to ensure the bacteria is removed.

Invisible Braces

In this section of our article will take a more detailed look at invisible braces specifically.

Are Invisalign or ClearSmile Aligners really better than braces?

This really depends on how you define the term ‘better’.

Invisalign and ClearSmile Aligners tend to be:

  • More aesthetically pleasing. You are far less likely to have other people notice that you are wearing Invisalign or ClearSmile Aligners compared to conventional braces.
  • More comfortable. Because Invisalign or ClearSmile Aligners don’t have any sharp areas like brackets it tends to cause less discomfort, particularly less rubbing and ulcers on your cheeks.
  • More reliable. Invisalign or ClearSmile Aligners are simply made of a hard almost transparent plastic. These invisible aligners don’t have any elastic bands which sometimes have a tendency to break. Invisalign or ClearSmile Aligners also don’t require brackets to be bonded to your teeth which may come off.

However conventional braces tend to:

  • Be able to treat more complex cases. Back teeth and complex bite changes can be achieved with conventional orthodontic systems.
  • Be more flexible in their approach. Because your orthodontist/dentist is able to individually adjust each tooth, very precise alignment can be achieved.

Which type of dental braces are most suitable?

The types of brace used depends on your particular desires and clinical situation.

  • If you want teeth straightened quickly. A rapid orthodontics system such as 6 Month Smiles, or ClearSmile Brace may be suitable for you.
  • If you want teeth straightened invisibly. ClearSmile Aligners or Invisalign could be your preferred option. You may also want to think about lingual braces. These are braces which can straighten crooked teeth by attaching brackets on the tongue side of your teeth.
  • If you want teeth straightened with discreet braces but have a complex treatment plan. Fixed orthodontics may be the best option in this case, this can usually be achieved with clear brackets and tooth coloured wires.

Braces with metal brackets

Why do they use nitinol in dental braces?

Nitinol is what is known as a shape memory alloy (SMA), it is a nickel to titanium alloy and has special properties in that it can be deformed by bending or twisting it will keep its new shape until it is heated. When it is heated and the temperature rises above a certain point the SMA will return to its original shape.

This is useful in orthodontics because the wire will start off in a straight arch (its original shape) it will then be bent by the orthodontist to fit around your teeth. The alloy will then continue to try to return to its original straight arch shape and therefore move the teeth in the process.

Image credit: askanorthodontist.com



How do ceramic and metal braces differ?

The function of ceramic and metal braces is the same, they can both straighten teeth with more complex alignment issues due to the fact that they have brackets bonded to your tooth and customised archwires. The primary difference between these 2 treatments is that ceramic and/or clear braces are far more desirable from a cosmetic point of view. Many people dislike the appearance of metal train track braces and opt for the more discreet ceramic braces.

How to get orthodontic treatment without metal braces?

Many people would rather not have the heavy duty type metal braces and preferred to opt for the more aesthetically pleasing Invisalign or ClearSmile Aligner treatment style options. With the blend of clear and almost imperceptible aligners and tooth coloured brackets and wires, you are sure to find the right orthodontic appliance for you… All you have to do is ask at your initial smile assessment.

Download our free guide

The Complete Guide to Everything You Need to Know about Straightening Crooked Teeth… and probably more

Written by Dr Shrik Kotecha

Straightening crooked teeth information pack

  • The costs and lowest price alternatives
  • Your options and choices for treatment
  • Are you suitable for treatment?
  • How does Invisalign compare to the other brace systems?
  • How long does treatment take?
  • Plus lots more…