Braces are in high demand. Here are the answers to some common questions about this type of dental treatment.
The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to make the best of your teeth. This includes allowing you to bite correctly, eat more comfortably, and to care for your teeth and gums more easily. And your smile will benefit, too.
Treatment almost always involves using braces to straighten crooked, crowded or protruding teeth, close gaps between teeth, and correct the bite of the teeth so the top and bottom teeth meet when you close your mouth.
Treatment usually lasts from 18 months to two years, and visits to the orthodontist are needed every four to six weeks.
According to the British Orthodontic Society, 202,300 people started orthodontic treatment in England and Wales in 2014-15.
The vast majority were children aged 13 to 17 beginning orthodontic who started treatment to straighten their teeth. Braces are usually more successful in children, which is why most orthodontic patients are children.
Fewer than 1 in 100 orthodontic patients are adults. But more adults than ever now want treatment, many having missed out when they were children.
The ideal age to have orthodontic treatment is around 12 or 13, while you're still growing. The opportunity for improvement in an adult is more limited and surgery is more likely to be needed.
To get braces fitted you need to be referred to an orthodontist by your dentist. By law, only registered specialists can call themselves a specialist orthodontist.
There are many different types of braces. Some are removable, which you take out at night, to eat a meal, or clean. Some are fixed and stay in all the time. Most braces are made of metal, but plastic and ceramic ones are also available. Some of these are clear, so you can hardly see them on your teeth.
Read more about different types of braces.
Orthodontics usually works very well, but it's important to look after your teeth while you're wearing braces. Braces can trap food and cause more plaque to build up than usual.
You need to take extra care cleaning your teeth and watch what you eat – for example, by avoiding sugary foods and drinks. You also need to see your dentist regularly while having orthodontic treatment.
Read more about looking after your teeth while wearing braces.
Find out more about orthodontics or braces.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.