Myths about braces

MYTH NO. 1 – One should wait for all the milk teeth to fall off, before you approach the orthodontist for a consultation.

FACT – The first check up, to know whether the child will need braces should be whenever the front permanent teeth appear in the mouth. (At that stage, there’ll be around 12 – 16 milk teeth present in the mouth) 

MYTH NO. 2 – One should always wait till the child is twelve years old, before starting treatment with braces. Braces treatment must be started after growth is completed.

FACT –There are certain conditions, esply growth related, which are better corrected during the maximal growth phase of the child, which might be before his/her 12th birthday. Quite often, the child might be recommended for a two phase treatment, wherein in the first phase, the initial problem will be taken care of. This is followed by a period where the teeth are monitored and guided (as the milk teeth fall and permanent teeth come in their place). Finally, a second phase treatment is done to completely settle the teeth in the correct position.

     PERHAPS A Recommended age to start treatment with braces - 9 to 11 years,                                                           if you missed the bus at SEVEN years of age.

Not only is the child growing at this age, the milk teeth are in the process of shedding. It might be better to guide the teeth in the correct position; rather than allowing it to go out of line and then later pull/push it in place.

In the Indian context, where extra emphasis is put on the Class 10 examinations, if the treatment is started around 9 – 11 years, by the time the child is all set to gear him/herself for Class 10 Board examinations, he/she would be rid of the braces.

MYTH NO. 3 – Braces cannot be put after a certain age.

FACT – Braces can be put at any age, as long as the gums and teeth are healthy. Braces are not just for kids. Adults with a set of teeth which can be made better with braces are suitable candidates to be treated with braces. See Adult Orthodontics

MYTH NO. 4 – "Straightening" of teeth & beautification of smile can be done in ONE DAY

FACT – If one cannot be made taller in a day, without adding some artificial attachment, likewise, teeth CANNOT be straightened in a day. Even if some artificial means are used, the most that can be accomplished will make the teeth "appear straight". Something akin to a person wearing a wig. "Straightening" teeth with the help of braces, ensures that teeth are ACTUALLY repositioned better, not just for the looks, but also, for the function & stability.

MYTH NO. 5 – If the child has a set of neatly arranged pearly white milk teeth, he/she will have an equally beautifully arranged set of permanent teeth

FACT – Sadly, it’s not always true. . It is very common for parents to come down with a complaint – “Oh, my child had such a beautiful pearly whites, when he was around 4 and 5years old! Doctor, see how crooked they’ve become now!”

A lot depends on how much the jaws grow to accommodate the forming and erupting large permanent teeth, and, how the upper and lower jaws are related to each other

MYTH NO. 6 – It is necessary to remove permanent teeth to get the set of teeth in proper alignment & position.

FACT – Not always, but, many a times, it is necessary to remove one or more teeth to get the remaining set of teeth in a more stable & functional position. After removing the selected teeth, the remaining teeth are re-arranged, with the help of braces, to close that space.

 MYTH NO. 7 – Treatment with braces is very painful.

FACT – For all the real delicate darlings, yes it is. However for all the cool dudes – “Hardly, doc!!”  The braces irritate the first few days after being put on the teeth.  On subsequent appointments thereafter, the teeth will hurt till upto 2 -3 days after your scheduled visit with the orthodontist, that too, only if the doctor has “tightened the wires” or, put in something new/additional parts onto the braces.

The pain is very much bearable, and if it pains or troubles you any time, you are recommended to have mild painkillers, as advised.

MYTH NO. 8 – Getting treated with braces will weaken my teeth

FACT – While it is true that teeth are moved within the gums during the course of braces treatment, it will not weaken the tooth support, if you, as a patient have been good in maintaining the hygiene around the gums, teeth & braces.

MYTH NO. 9 – Vacation time is the best time to start braces treatment.

FACT – Technology available earlier, required a series of long appointments with the orthodontist, to get the braces fitted on their teeth. Hence the notion that vacation period is a good time to start the braces treatment.

Modern technology has made it possible to get the entire set of braces fitted on all your teeth within 60 – 90 minutes. Have a great time holidaying during the vacation period. Get the braces put any time of the year.

MYTH NO. 10– Frequent or extra “tightening” of braces will make the treatment progress faster.

FACT – Sadly, mathematics & biology do not gel when it comes to orthodontic matters. On the contrary, excess & more frequent tightening of braces may harm the tooth.

 MYTH NO. 11 – Treatment with braces takes a very long time.

FACT – Most of the time, to get the teeth corrected with the help of braces, takes about 18 months. Few cases can be completed earlier. However there are cases, which tend to take a longer. Some cases need to be treated in a phase wise manner. The patient needs to visit the orthodontist once in 4 – 8 weeks, as advised by him/her.

When the results last a lifetime, 18 months is just a number!!

MYTH NO. 12 – Wisdom tooth is the spoilsport. It must be removed to preserve the results achieved after braces treatment.

FACT – Research has proved that the lower front teeth going out on line in some cases, in the later part of their lives, is not due to the presence of the third molars. Instead it is most probably, one of the many “signs of aging”.

Proper documentation of the records with the orthodontist, before, during and after braces treatment will help decide how best to tackle such a situation later in life.

MYTH NO 13 - Thumb sucking is a normal infant habit & need not be intervened

FACT – Even though thumb sucking may be perceived as a common habit in infants, which would make the child feel secure and happy, if the habit is left to continue beyond 5 years of age, it can make the upper teeth project out. Intervention in such cases becomes necessary to stop this habit & prevent any further damage.

MYTH NO 14  – Moving the teeth with the help of braces will make the teeth weak in the gums

FACT – Teeth become weak only under one circumstance – if the cleanliness around the teeth is not maintained which infects the gums around the teeth which in turn infects the bone below the gums, which when infected simply dissolves away, weakening the bone support around the teeth. And if braces are there on the teeth & the sequence of events is as above, it would be unfair to blame the braces for weakened teeth at the end of braces treatment

MYTH NO 15 - All wisdom teeth must be removed, if I want the teeth to remain as they are at the end of braces treatment

FACT - Research has proved now that wisdom teeth have nothing to do with the mild shifting of front teeth, later in life. Even people, who never had braces treatment, or, never had any wisdom teeth, may experience similar condition.

MYTH NO. 16 – Once I get my braces off, the teeth will remain in the exact same positions, forever.

FACT – That would something like - I’ve got plastic surgery done & my face will look exactly like this, forever. Once your teeth your bite is set right, your braces are taken off. Yet you need to follow specified protocol of wearing retainers for a few years. Sometimes in spite of wearing retainers for prescribed duration, some relapse can be seen in few patients. Most often, this relapse is very mild and can not be noticed. Patients who have noticeable relapse may have to do selective retreatment with braces. A few select cases might be advised lifetime wear of retainers, to maintain the achieved results.

MYTH NO. 17 - Braces must hurt or feel tight for it to work best

FACT - No pain no gain does not apply to braces. Innovations, new technologies and flexible wires, has made the experience of orthodontic treatment very comfortable. Pain, if any, can easily be managed with painkillers

MYTH NO. 18 – The tighter the braces, the faster they move teeth & thus faster results.

FACT -  On the contrary, excess pressure on teeth will damage the bone , gums & teeth, complicating the case and prolonging the treatment, all the more !!