Dental braces (also known as braces, orthodontic cases, or cases) are devices used in orthodontics that align and straighten teeth and help position them with regard to a person’s bite, while also aiming to improve dental health. Braces also fix gaps. They are often used to correct underbites, as well as malocclusions, overbites, open bites, deep bites, cross bites, crooked teeth, and various other flaws of the teeth and jaw. Braces can be either cosmetic or structural. Dental braces are often used in conjunction with other orthodontic appliances to help widen the palate or jaws and to otherwise assist in shaping the teeth and jaws.
In order to prevent the teeth from moving back to their original position, retainers are worn once the treatment is complete. Retainers help in maintaining and stabilizing the position of teeth long enough to permit reorganization of the supporting structures after the active phase of orthodontic therapy. If the patient does not wear the retainer appropriately and/or for the right amount of time, the teeth may move towards their previous position. For regular braces, Hawley retainers are used. They are made of metal hooks that surround the teeth and are enclosed by an acrylic plate shaped to fit the patient’s palate. For invisalign braces, an Essix retainer is used. This is similar to the regular invisalign braces; it is a clear plastic tray that is firmly fitted to the teeth, which stays in place without a plate fitted to the palate. There is also a bonded retainer where a wire is permanently bonded to the lingual side of the teeth, usually the lower teeth only. Doctors will sometimes refuse to remove this retainer, and a special orthodontic appointment to have it removed may be required.