Dental Education Lecture: Why Do We Need Braces?







Most of parents say "I want my child to have straight teeth".  When braces are finished, parent's dream come true.  Children's teeth are as straight and beautiful as those of movie stars.  One parent jokingly said to her son "your teeth are so straight that they look like fake teeth".  But these bright and white teeth do not fall out of the mouth.  Do you know how the teeth become bright and white thorough braces?  Let us use two examples: Jessica (Fig.1 and 2) and Wendy (Fig.3-6).  Fig.1-4 are front view of upper and bottom teeth, whereas Fig.5,6 are view of bottom teeth.  Fig.1,3,5 are before braces, while Fig. 2,4,6 after or during braces.

Before braces, the teeth are crooked to different degree (Fig.1,3,5).  But one thing is quite common.  These teeth are pretty yellow.  It appears that there is a thin layer of film on the surface of teeth.  We call the film plaque, accumulation of germs on our tooth surface.  Most of children who need braces usually do not brush well.  They have bad baby teeth, having lots of cavities.  Baby teeth are extracted or fall out too early.  Adult teeth come out in wrong place.  Anyway, crooked teeth make brushing difficult. 

When braces are done (Fig.2) or being done (Fig.4,6), their teeth look much brighter.  You do not see yellowish plaque anymore or much less.  This is probably due to good alignment thorough braces, making easier to brush. There is also a big change in their personality during brace wearing period.  When they first came to our office for initial evaluation, we need to take several photos with relaxation (no smile) and smile.  Most of these kids basically did not know how to smile or refused to say "cheese".  When they were forced to smile or say "cheese", they looked very awkward, unnatural.  When braces are done, we need to repeat photos.  Kids cannot wait to show you the sweetest smile.  It makes you wonder whether you are a famous dentist working in Hollywood Beverly Hill.  When we take photos with relaxation, we have to ask them to stop smiling.  These youngsters have motivation to keep their teeth clean.  Lucy has learned how to use dental floss at the age of 12.  With drastic improvement in oral hygiene, these kids have much less chance to have cavities and gum diseases.  Hopefully they have healthy mouth, body and mind (self esteem) to be ready to enter this tough world.  This is why we need braces!  Please check here for other important roles of good tooth alignment.

When you wear braces, you should pay more attention to keep them clean, which is discussed next.

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 01/18/2009, last revision 03/20/2010