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Improve Your Smile with Braces and Retainers

Whether you’re a child or an adult, at some point in your life, you might need braces. Although most people don’t look forward to wearing them, they help achieve facial balance by straightening your teeth and bringing your lips and jaw into alignment. This results in a better smile — a benefit that everyone can appreciate.

Not Just for Kids

Although many people who wear braces get them as children, adults can also benefit from them. While malocclusions (which means “bad bite”) often become apparent between ages 6 and 12, it’s never too late to fix crooked teeth, overbites, or some jaw-joint disorders — all problems that can be fixed by braces.  An orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in fixing dental and facial irregularities, will diagnosis the dental problems that need to be fixed and put your braces on.

Braces do more than improve your smile — they can also help with dental function. Crooked and crowded teeth can make it hard to brush and floss, and over time, this can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

The Role of Retainers

Braces are usually worn for one to three years. After your braces are removed, your orthodontist will want you to use a retainer. Some retainers are fixed — meaning they are worn all the time and can be removed only by the dentist — and some can be removed. Both types are used to keep teeth from shifting away from the position achieved by using braces.

Retainers can be just plastic or plastic with metal wire. Like braces, they come in different colors and designs.

The Price of Beauty

The cost of braces and retainers depends on how severe the problem is and the type of treatment approach the orthodontist recommends. Most orthodontists offer payment plans, and treatment fees can generally be paid over the course of treatment. Also, dental schools with graduate orthodontic programs usually offer treatment to some patients at a lower cost.3 Visit the American Dental Association Web site at to find a dental school near you.

“Why Orthodontic Treatment” American Association of Orthodontists. Accessed 2013.

“Braces.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. Accessed 2013.

“AAO - A Beautiful Smile for Everyone” American Association of Orthodontists. Accessed 2013.

American Dental Association. Accessed 2013.

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