Smile! A smile actually brightens up your entire face and is the most striking part of your face. But sometimes you are ashamed to smile. Why? Because you have buckteeth? Your teeth are crooked, stained? Have you seen some kids with a mouthful of metal? These are called braces.

Today, doctors can work wonders with your teeth. They can straighten your teeth and put a sparkle on it. All this without dentures, mind you!

Just as you go to a doctor with an upset stomach or an eye doctor to test your eyes, your teeth also requires attention and care. Teeth help in chewing.

Mom and son smiling to show their colorful braces
Mom and son smiling to show their colorful braces

Crooked teeth will not allow you to chew food properly so partially unchewed food will go down to your stomach. Crooked teeth are also hard to clean and they also hurt the gums. Gaps between the teeth are also dangerous.

Sometimes food morsels get stuck between the teeth. If they do not get dislodged with a normal brushing they tend to decay the teeth and form cavities.

The best way to correct these problems is when you are a child and your permanent teeth haven’t set. The dentist corrects the teeth by stretching your mouth so that the teeth fit in correctly in its place. This is done by means of braces.

Treatment works best between 8 to 14 years of age. By 12 or 13 years of age the milk teeth falls out and permanent teeth come in. It is also at this age that the jaw is growing so it is usually the best time to get treatment.

How Can We Correct Crooked Teeth?
How Can We Correct Crooked Teeth? [Illustrations by Anup Singh]

As a child is growing his jaws are still weak and reshaping is easier. Applying pressure to the jaw makes the jaw grow in the direction of the pull. Putting braces thus helps change the shape of your jaw.

What are braces? These are metal pieces fitted into the mouth around the teeth to set them in order. They are attached to the teeth by means of bands, which are tightened periodically by the doctor.

Braces or orthodontical brackets were first constructed by Pierre Fauchard in 1728. These braces consisted of a flat strip of metal, which was connected to teeth by pieces of thread. In 1841, bands were invented that consisted of a strip of metal with an adjustable screw.

In 1915, a doctor called Edward Angle invented the orthodontic brackets. The brackets consisted of little hooks of metal attached to bands that covered the teeth. In 1928, the design was modified to made the edgewise bracket.

Sometimes one of your jaws, mostly the upper one, is small and the lower one protrudes out. A special device is then fixed to make the jaws fit together.

A closeup of dental braces
A closeup of dental braces

The dentist uses a device called the palatal expander so the teeth and jaw fit together. Buckteeth are corrected by means of a clip-like device called a facebow. Other devices can correct irregular canines, teeth growing over another, etc.

Teeth can be corrected at any age. However, as you get older the treatment takes longer and hurts more. The older you are the more painful it gets as the jaws and permanent teeth have set in. Certain people may even need corrective surgery.