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Having straight teeth is important. Teeth that are crooked or out of place (misaligned) affect the way a person chews and talks and how their smile looks. Because they have unnatural spaces, crooked teeth are harder to clean and are more likely to have cavities and periodontal (gum) disease. In some cases, crooked teeth can affect the way the jaws line up and can cause pain and discomfort.

The process of aligning teeth is technically called Orthodontic. Dentists who have expertise in this field are called Orthodontist.

People with mal-aligned or irregular teeth, crowded, overlapping teeth, or with gaps in between may require orthodontic treatment.

Causes of Irregular Teeth

  • Heredity

  • Thumb-sucking

  • Lip and tongue habits

  • Mouth breathing, nail biting, etc.

  • Incompetent lips

  • Injury / accidents

Severe Malocclusion

Why Teeth sometimes need to be Extracted

In cases of severe crowding of teeth, there may not be any space available to align the teeth. Then it becomes necessary to extract some teeth to create enough space for the other teeth to get aligned correctly.

How do Braces work?

Braces are a common method of changing one's appearance. 20% of today's patients are adults. They are usually placed by an orthodontist or a experienced general dentist. Orthodontics is the dental field that involves the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of problems caused by poorly positioned teeth.


One method to correct this is to have Orthodontic treatment (or braces and retainers as they are sometimes called). Orthodontic treatment works by exerting a gentle pressure over time to straighten teeth that are growing, or have already grown, out of place.

Braces have three basic parts:

1) Brackets - brackets that are attached to each tooth
2) Bonding or band - the material that attaches the bracket to the tooth
3) Arch Wire - a thin metal wire that runs from bracket to bracket

The teeth are moved by adjusting the pressures on the teeth by the archwire. Sometimes, springs or rubber bands are used to help. In certain instances the brackets can be placed on the inside surface of the teeth so they are less visible.

Braces have come a long way from the "train track" look of years ago. Today, many orthodontic patients can get braces that attach to the backs of the teeth, or use transparent brackets.

What age should Braces be placed

The age for correction of alignment differs from case to case, but in general, it is best done after the child has completed 12 years and all the permanent teeth have erupted. Many times early commencement of treatment gives better results, but treatment is possible at an older age also. 2

How long do Braces stay on?

The length of time it takes to move the teeth to the desired location varies from person to person. The average is from 18 months to 30 months for children and may be longer for adults. The time depends on the difficulty of the case, the amount of room available, the distance the teeth must travel, the cooperativity of the patient and the bone and the age of the patient.

Will Teeth Move Back to their Original Positions after Treatment

About 15-20% relapse is bound to occur over a period of time. Orthodontists sometimes overcorrect the alignment, anticipating the rebound. Retainers may also be used to help keep corrected teeth in alignment.

A retainer is a custom-made, removable appliance that helps keep teeth in their new, straightened position after braces have been removed. Retainers can also be used to treat more minor orthodontic problems. A retainer may need to be worn for years.


Unless otherwise noted, content is from and developed by the Nova Scotia Dental Association. Text has been reformatted to enhance viewability. To visit this site directly (and leave Doctors Corner) select link above. This is an excellent noncommercial site providing basic but very useful information on various dental topics.

2. "Orthodontics":

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Modified: February 3, 2002