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Burlingame Smile Studio, under the direction of Dr. April Lee, provides comprehensive orthodontic treatment for Northern California residents near San Francisco, CA. If you’re considering dental braces, below is some useful information about dental braces that can help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

What is the Purpose of Dental Braces?

Dental braces are used to correct malocclusions, which are problems that affect the teeth and bite. This could include teeth that are crowded or have irregular spacing, crooked or protruding teeth, or a bite that is out of alignment. Braces are used to slowly and gradually shift the teeth into the correct position, which produces a healthier and more attractive smile.

How do I know if I need Braces?

Typically, if you are seeing your dentist regularly and receiving proper dental care, your dentist will recommend an orthodontic examination if they see signs that indicate you may need braces.

You may notice that your teeth are out of alignment just by looking in the mirror, or you may notice that your bite is misaligned when you chew. Perhaps your teeth are so crooked or crowded that proper brushing and flossing has become difficult. Since proper brushing and flossing is essential to preventing tooth decay and gum disease, it is imperative to see an orthodontist when this happens.

A misaligned bite may affect your ability to chew and speak properly, while also eroding tooth enamel. Structural problems in the jawbone may develop in extreme cases, as well as problems such as gum disease, which can affect your overall health, since periodontal infections can enter the blood stream and affect other conditions in the body.

Picture: Shutterstock

What can be corrected with Braces?

Malocclusions may arise as a result of any number of structural problems, including:

  • Crowding: This occurs when the capacity of the mouth cannot accommodate all of the teeth properly.
  • Open Bite: Protruding teeth, or “open bite,” may be caused by problems such as thumb sucking, or they may be hereditary.
  • Irregular Number of Teeth: Some patients may be born with an irregular number of teeth, or may have lost teeth as a result of injury or trauma, and this may affect the bite.
  • Problems in the Jaw and Bone: If the jaw or supporting bone structure is misaligned, it may affect the bite and create malocclusion, which in turn may cause difficulty chewing and/or speaking. Malocclusion may also occur as a result of problems such as teeth grinding and Temporomandibular Joint Disorders commonly known as TMJ or TMD, additionally contributing to these problems and creating a vicious cycle.

What is the Best Age to get Braces?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be examined by an orthodontist by age 7, while some primary baby teeth are still in place, in order to identify any potential problems with jaw development and the emerging permanent teeth.

While many malocclusions may be hereditary, they may also be caused by habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, and typically begin to appear in children between the ages of 6 and 12, or around the time that the permanent teeth begin to erupt. Ideally, the best time to begin orthodontic treatment with dental braces would be between the ages of 8 and 14, while the jaw is still developing and structural problems may be corrected more easily.

Nevertheless, many adults also undergo orthodontic treatment, and braces may also be used to correct malocclusions in adults. In fact, orthodontic treatment among adults has become far more popular in recent years. It is never too late to enjoy a straight, healthy smile!

Adult Braces

The process of shifting teeth into their proper location is essentially the same at any age, but orthodontic treatment may take a bit longer in adults, due to the fact that facial bones are now fully developed. In some cases, a malocclusion or structural problem may not respond to braces alone, and additional treatments may be required, such as tooth extraction or maxillofacial surgery.

What are Braces made of?

Braces consist of brackets and arch wires, and in many cases, elastic bands are used to keep the arch wires properly positioned.

Brackets: Brackets may be made of metal, ceramic, composite, or a combination of these materials and have evolved tremendously over the years, with many varieties to choose from depending on your condition and preferences. Today’s brackets are a lot smaller than those of the past, and patients may choose from among different bracket shapes. In some cases, the brackets may be attached to the inside of the teeth to make them less visible. Some wearers do not need to use elastic bands, while others may choose from colored elastic bands to add a bit of pizzazz to their smile.

Arch Wires: Arch wires are attached to the brackets and are used to apply continuous pressure so as to gradually shift the teeth into their proper position. These wires are flexible yet retain their intended shape. Today’s dental arch wires are made of advanced materials that make them more durable and comfortable than those of the past.

Picture: Shutterstock

How Much Do Braces Cost?

Orthodontic treatment with dental braces will typically range in price between $3,000 and $7,000 in most cases, but cost varies widely between patients and is determined by a variety of factors. These include your condition, as well as the extent and duration of your treatment, and the location, as prices vary by region. Some patients may also require some type of restorative work to be completed in conjunction with the orthodontic treatment, which will add an additional cost. Then there is the question of whether your dental insurance will cover orthodontic treatment, and how much will be covered.

Many orthodontists, such as Burlingame Smile Studio, offer flexible payment terms and financing plans to keep treatment affordable for all patients. At Burlingame Smile Studio, Dr. April Lee will work with you to keep your smile healthy and radiant. Call Burlingame Smile Studio at (650) 231-2680 today for a free consultation.


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