Orthodontic procedures typically involve metal braces and permanent or removable retainers, and help to straighten and realign teeth. Parents often choose to have orthodontics done for their children, but they can be done at any age. In many cases, private dental plans don't cover orthodontic work.

The type of braces your orthodontist recommends will depend on a number of factors, such as age, whether you have an overbite or underbite, and how crooked or misaligned the teeth being corrected are. Classic braces, made from metal brackets attached to the teeth, are what likely come to mind when you think of braces. An archwire, attached to the brackets using elastic o-rings, puts pressure on the teeth and jaw. This archwire is adjusted periodically as teeth slowly move into the desired place. Ceramic, “clear” braces may also be an option, and are less visible. Lingual braces are placed completely behind your teeth, and invisible braces, also called aligner trays, can be taken off and placed back on throughout the day or overnight.

Retainers are aligner trays you are given after completing treatment with traditional braces, to keep newly aligned teeth in place. A type of lingual braces called a permanent retainer may also be used for the same purpose.

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