What are the Side Effects of Braces | If you have crooked teeth, you may have been referred to an orthodontist, the doctor who specializes in aligning your teeth, rectifying your smile and improving your bite using braces, at least once? There are many reasons you must get your teeth straightened if you have malaligned teeth for improved confidence, a better smile, ease of cleaning and maintaining oral hygiene, and improved functionality of the teeth.
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While these are facts, most patients have their own reservations about not getting this done. Be it the ugly look of the braces, the pain associated with it, restrictions in diet, or long duration of treatment.
To handle a few of the reservations mentioned above, there have been many new advancements in the field of orthodontics lately to encourage the patients to get their teeth aligned. Some of these include clear braces or clear aligners, lingual braces, accelerated orthodontics, and modern metallic braces. But, do you know that orthodontic treatment has side effects too? Yes, it is true! From a clinical perspective, orthodontic treatment has its own negative side. Let’s learn a bit about what are the side effects of braces?
Side Effects of Braces Tightening
Damage to the tooth root
You must be aware that each tooth has a ‘crown’ portion that is visible as the white part in the mouth and is used to chew and bite. Below the crown is the ‘root’ that anchors the tooth into the socket inside the bone. This bone part is covered by the pink gums. When braces are tightened by the orthodontist, they apply forces on your teeth to bring about their movement. It is the root portion of the tooth that is moving, as your bone remodels or changes shape to make room for it.
This movement of the tooth causes erosion of its roots and is a normal sequela of orthodontic treatment. However, when forces in excess of what a tooth can bear are applied to it, this root erosion increases. In many cases, root erosion causes their damage and can even cause the death of the tooth. These are usually the long term effects of braces.
Pain – Side Effects of Braces
If you know any orthodontic patients among your family or friends, one common complaint you may have heard is “braces hurt!”. Well, it is true. About 70-95% of orthodontic patients experience pain at least once, during their braces treatment. Whenever your doctor tightens the wires in your braces to apply forces on your teeth, it leads to some sensation in them, which may be interpreted in the range of pressure to pain.
When excessive forces are applied, it can lead to severe pain. In fact, in some cases, the pain is so much that the patients are unable to bear it and it causes them to discontinue their treatment in between midway. It has been estimated that about 30% of orthodontic patients stop treatment due to this unbearable pain. Pain is more in the anterior teeth than in the posterior ones because of their smaller size and lesser thickness the various layers of the tooth.
While it may be a deterrent to patients, many orthodontists advise them to take pain killers to relieve the pain. But, if there is excessive pain that is not subsiding, it is best to visit your orthodontist on an emergency basis.
Death of a tooth – Side Effects of Braces
Just like orthodontic tooth alignment using braces can cause damage to the teeth, it can also lead to the death of a tooth. Each tooth in your mouth is made up of a layer that contains blood vessels and nerves that keeps the tooth alive. This layer is called the pulp. When braces are tightened and they, in turn, apply forces to the teeth, there is a mild inflammation that arises in this pulp layer. This reaction subsides when the forces on the tooth have reduced in due course of time.
However, in many cases, there may be excessive forces applied on a tooth or a few teeth that results in chronic inflammation of the pulp layer. This chronic inflammation can damage the pulp and result in the death of the tooth.
Damage to the gums and the underlying bone – Braces effects
We have till now seen that the teeth move within the bone they are lodged in. This bone is covered by gums. While oral hygiene needs to be maintained individual without braces, the need for oral hygiene maintenance needs to increase in a patient with braces. This is because braces tend to accumulate more dirt and plaque on them. Not cleaning them in time or on doing so properly results in gum disease called gingivitis.
If gingivitis is not treated in time, it can spread to the tissues like underlying bone, which is responsible for keeping the tooth strongly anchored. If this situation arises this lead to loosening of the teeth, infection, and pus discharge, etc., all of which can delay or hamper orthodontic treatment.
The extent of damage to the gums and underlying bone depends on many factors such as :
- Patient’s oral hygiene
- Habits such as smoking or tobacco chewing
- Lifestyle habits
- Food routine of the patient.
Side Effects of braces on lips
Your facial soft tissues like lips take shape based on the alignment of your teeth. In individuals with protruding teeth, the lips are often thick or bulky, and in severe cases do not come in close contact with each other giving an ‘open mouth’ appearance even when they are not in use.
However, when a patient is treated with braces and the teeth get aligned and are pulled backwards, the lips find the ideal support and often adjust according to this. In the majority of cases, the lips often show positive results after completion of braces treatment.
So, we can say that there are no side effects of braces on the lips. There may be some minor irritation on the lips that can occur occasionally in some patients but this can be resolved using braces wax or some moisturizing and creams on the lips.
Increased cavities on teeth
Just like orthodontic treatment causes side effects on the gums and bone, it also results in an increased risk of dental cavities. Poor oral hygiene that is common in orthodontic patients often causes accumulation of food debris and plaque that contain bacteria on the teeth. These bacteria produce white demineralized spots which eventually lead to dental cavities if not attended timely.
Problems in the TMJ or the Jaw joint
The joint that is responsible for biting, chewing, talking movements and that moves the lower jaw is called the TMJ or the jaw joint. A shocking 48-86% of the people in the world today have at least one clinical sign of a TMJ problem. One of the main causes of this jaw problem is the improper bite or alignment of the teeth inside the mouth.
Though orthodontic treatment is responsible for the patient’s teeth alignment, if the treatment is not done properly, it can aggravate the existing jaw problem or cause the TMJ to develop a new problem. TMJ problems can result in pain in the jaw or associated muscles, discomfort, difficulty in opening the mouth, difficulty in chewing, etc.
Side Effects of Braces on Eyes and Face
There is a common myth that dental treatment, especially removal of the tooth, root canals or orthodontic treatments can harm your eyes. However, there are no cases of side effects of braces on the eyes.
Just like orthodontic treatment can correct the appearance and position of lips, it also improves the facial appearance of the patient. In a patient whose upper and lower anterior teeth are protruding, braces are used to bring them backwards in proper alignment. The soft tissues of the face and lips also adapt along with the teeth in their new positions. This often makes the nose of the patient look more prominent in the side profile. However, there are no side effects of braces on the face.
For all those individuals who ask “what are the side effects of braces?” or “are braces worth it?”, it must be made clear that these side effects can occur during treatment but not in every case. If you are still anxious about orthodontic treatment, consult with your orthodontist and pick an alternative treatment option of clear braces like 32 Watts clear aligners that are aesthetic, comfortable and have far lesser side effects than braces.
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