Braces for missing teeth
Braces are special dental appliances that are used to move teeth about. They can be used to close gaps where teeth are missing, or to make the spaces the right size for false teeth. Whether it is possible to use this treatment will depend on a few factors:
How many teeth are missing – with lots of missing teeth it is harder to close the gaps
Where the other teeth have grown
How big the gaps are - if the gaps are big it can be hard to close the gaps
How your teeth bite together
The dental team will be able to talk to you about whether braces can help with your treatment. They will be able to talk to you about whether it is possible to close the gaps between your teeth or if it is better to make spaces for false teeth.
It can sometimes be difficult to move teeth when other teeth are missing. This is because the brace does not have as many teeth to hold on to. It is important to ask the dental team how difficult it will be to move your teeth, whether they will need to use any extra appliances to help the brace treatment, and how long the treatment is likely to take.
Braces to close or open gaps
If only a few teeth are missing it might be possible to use braces to close the gaps. In other cases, your dental team might want to widen a gap, to make space for a false tooth/teeth.
Research showsThis information comes from research where braces have been used to close gaps where teeth are missing. The research is mostly with people who are only missing one or two teeth. The research is supported by clinical experience of dentists. For more information, click here. that using braces to close gaps works well. The teeth normally look good at the end of the treatment, and bite together well; if teeth do not match very well, because they are not the right shape or colour, the dental team might be able to improve the look of the teeth. Usually teeth are healthy at the end of the braces process, and continue to be in the future.
There is not very much research aboutMost of the information comes from clinical experience of dentists. There is some research that suggests the teeth may move back after braces; this is supported by dentists' clinical experience. For more information, click here. using braces to make spaces for false teeth, but dentists’ clinical experience shows that using braces to move teeth around works well.
Sometimes the teeth can move back if there is a gap between finishing the braces and having the false teeth fitted. This is most important for dental implants. For this reason, the dental team might recommend starting brace treatment a bit later if you are having dental implants.
Types of braces
There are different types of braces. Each type has a different job.
For all braces it is important that you look after your teeth and brace – this might mean changing how your brush your teeth, and changing your diet. You must also wear the brace as much as you are asked to, see the dental team regularly for checks, and follow any other instructions given to you by the dental team.
All types of braces have been shownInformation about how well different types of braces work comes from high quality research, and lots of clinical experience of dentists. For more information, click here. to work well if you follow the wear instructions that your orthodontist gives you, look after your brace well, and see the dental team regularly to have your brace checked and adjusted.
Fixed ‘train track’ braces
Fixed ‘train track’ braces
Fixed braces are used to make the teeth straight and close gaps between the teeth.
They are usually made of metal and are fixed to your teeth with white filling material.
These braces cannot be removed so it is important you brush your teeth really well around the brace.
Functional ‘block’ brace
Functional ‘block’ brace
This type of brace is used to change how the teeth bite together. The brace is usually made of plastic.
Often this brace can be removed but it is important you wear it as much as possible to help it work well.
These braces might be used on their own or in combination with fixed braces. They are used for lots of reasons and if you need one, your orthodontist will explain why.
Removable braces are made of metal and plastic.
This brace can be removed so you can brush your teeth but it is important you wear it as much as possible to help it work well.
Extra appliances to help with braces
It can be more difficult to move teeth with braces when other teeth are missing. This is because there is less for the brace to hold on to. Sometimes extra appliances are needed to help with braces.
Click on each diagram to find out moreThis information about headgear and mini-screws mostly comes from moderate quality research that does not involve people with missing teeth. Information also comes from the clinical experience of dentists. For more information, click here. about these extra appliances.
Headgear is an appliance that is attached to either your top back teeth (usually with fixed braces) or to a removable brace.
It helps to support the brace while teeth are being moved.
Headgear needs to be worn for around 10-14 hours a day so most people wear it all the time except when they are at school. The dental team can tell you how long you would need to wear it for.
It is important that you follow the instructions given by the dental team to make sure the headgear works well and is safe.
Mini-screws are small metal screws that are placed through the gum into the jaw bone. They are used with fixed braces to help support the braces while the teeth are being moved.
Normally you need a few drops of anaesthetic to numb the gum when the screw is fitted. It is not normally painful after the screw is placed.
You need to brush the screw well to keep it clean. Your dentist will check it every time they see you. Sometimes the screw comes loose and needs to be taken out early. Uncommonly people get an infection around the screw so it needs to be take out.
For most people the screw does not cause any problems. It is taken out at the end of brace treatment without needing any anaesthetic. The screw does not leave any marks.
Sometimes the screw can break when it is being put in or removed. If this happens the small piece can be left in the jaw without any problems.
After all types of brace treatment it is essential that you wear a retainer. This is a special type of appliance that keeps your teeth in the right place.
The job of retainers is to keep your teeth straight, and to stop gaps opening up between your teeth. You need to wear your retainer for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight and the gaps closed. This might be for the rest of your life.
Research showsInformation about retainers comes from high quality research. The research is supported by clinical experience of dentists. For more information, click here. that all types of retainers work well if you follow the wear instructions that your orthodontist gives you, look after your retainer well, and see the dental team to have your retainer checked.
It is important that you think about which type of retainer would be best for you. You can talk to your family and the dental team about this.
This is a clear plastic retainer that is usually worn at night. Sometimes false teeth can be put into the retainer if you have gaps where teeth are missing.
You must never eat or drink with this type of retainer in your mouth. If you have missing teeth at the front, you will see the gaps when you take the retainer out to eat.
It is important that you remember to wear this retainer every night. If you forget your teeth can move very quickly.
This is a different type of removable plastic retainer. It made from a strong plate that fit into the roof of your mouth. There are metal clasps on the back teeth to hold it in. There is also usually a thin metal wire running across your front teeth to keep them in position.
This retainer is good for people with missing teeth because the teeth can be added to the retainer. You can wear it all the time, even when eating and drinking.
This retainer may affect your speech slightly when you first use it, but this quickly improves with time.
This is called a fixed retainer because it is stuck onto the teeth. It is hidden on the inside of the teeth, so it is not visible. It cannot be used where there are gaps from missing teeth.
The advantage is that you don’t need to remember to wear this retainer (as it stuck in full-time) but you must spend extra time cleaning around it.
Fixed retainers can come unstuck from your teeth. If this happens the teeth can move very quickly so it is important you see a dentist straight away.