5 Fast Facts About Braces/Orthodontics

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  • “You need braces” is something people often dread hearing. But if you or your child needs them, you’re not alone. About 4 million Americans wear braces on their teeth. In fact, they’re so common that some people consider braces a rite of passage for children and teens. The ability of braces to straighten teeth is a fact. Here's what else you might not know, but should, about braces or orthodontics.

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    1. Braces can help prevent cavities.
    Girl in braces with lollipop

    Braces aren’t just for improving the look of your teeth. Yes, they straighten your teeth so you have a better-looking smile. But braces do much more. For instance, food gets stuck more easily between crowded and crooked teeth than straight ones. With time, this can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Straightening your teeth with braces solves this problem. It creates a mouthful of teeth that are less likely to develop cavities and other dental health problems.

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    2. Braces have other benefits too.
    Dentist Examining Girls Teeth

    Some children have severe problems with the way their teeth line up. Or perhaps their upper and lower jaws don't meet like they should. This can make it hard to chew food and can sometimes cause speech problems. Braces also can help with these issues. Braces can resolve chewing and speaking problems by correcting jaw alignment and straightening teeth.  

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    3. Today's braces are pretty high-tech.
    Clear braces

    Some things about braces are actually super cool. Among the new types are “invisible” braces, featuring a cutting-edge material called TPA (transparent polycrystalline alumina). It's literally space-age technology. NASA developed it as part of missile tracking. For braces, the material works just as well as the traditional metal braces. It straightens teeth and gets jaws in line. However, they look transparent on your teeth, so it's harder for others to see the braces.

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    4. Kids may need them earlier than you think.
    Young girl with braces

    Sometimes parents question how early the orthodontist recommends braces for their child. But the American Dental Association notes that there’s a good reason for starting braces early. Abnormal bites can appear in children as young as age six. Also, outcomes are usually better if treatment starts while a child is still growing. That's why orthodontists often recommend braces when children are 8 to 14 years old.

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    5. They are not just for kids.
    Woman with braces

    Are you an adult with crowded, crooked teeth? You're not out of luck. Braces can straighten adults' teeth, correct jaw problems, and solve other dental issues too. Many people choose to get braces well into their adult years. In fact, even celebrities like Tom Cruise have opted to get braces later in life in order to straighten their teeth.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Sep 19
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

  1. Braces. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/braces

  2. Ceramics & Medicine. The American Ceramic Society. http://ceramics.org/learn-about-ceramics/ceramics-medicine

  3. PDA Presents the Facts on Braces. Pennsylvania Dental Association. https://www.padental.org/Online/Resources___Programs/News_Releases/Past_News_Releases/Facts_on_Braces.aspx