Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities (malocclusions*). Orthodontic treatment is provided by an oral health care provider known as an orthodontist,
who has completed two to three years of additional training beyond dental school.
Recent years have brought about many changes within the dental industry, specifically with regards to orthodontic treatment and care. Now more than ever patients are experiencing fewer incidences of cavities and missing teeth due to the heightened
awareness of fluoride use and preventative dentistry. This increasing awareness on the health and look of a patient’s smile has fueled the desire for many to seek out orthodontia not only as a medical necessity, but for cosmetic reasons
Whether it’s traditional braces or custom made removable appliances, orthodontics can help you have the healthy, straight, beautiful smile you’ve been waiting for!
Give us a call today and schedule your orthodontic consultation!
*Malocclusion is the technical term for teeth that don’t fit together correctly. Malocclusions not only affect the teeth, but also the appearance of the face. Most malocclusions are inherited; however some are due to acquired habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting. The spacing left from an adult tooth being extracted or an early loss of a baby tooth can also contribute to a malocclusion.
Treatment With Braces
There are many different types of orthodontic braces available. Each type, though made of varying components, realigns the teeth to enhance chewing, biting, and aesthetics. Available styles of orthodontic appliances allow the wearer a great amount of flexibility, control and convenience.
The two main types of braces available are removable and fixed devices. As the names suggest, removable devices can be moved into and out of the mouth at any time, while fixed devices are both applied and removed by the orthodontist. Though fixed dental braces are often used to correct severe alignment issues, removable devices are popular because they afford the wearer more control over their treatment.
Traditional Fixed Braces
Traditional braces are often more affordable and expedient than any other kind of braces – particularly in the case of a severe malocclusion (bad bite). During application of fixed braces, individual brackets are glued to each tooth on the arch and a thin wire connects the brackets. Traditional fixed braces work on the premise that consistent pressure is applied to the teeth. The appliances must modified by an orthodontist at routine appointments to continue exerting appropriate pressure.
There are several different types of brackets available, including metal, ceramic and clear. The metal brackets tend to be the least problematic structurally, but they are also the most visible. Ceramic brackets are equally effective and less visible, but they have a tendency to stain if not cared for properly. Clear brackets are the least visible, but generally cost more and are prone to damage.
The following treatment options are available for patients who choose fixed orthodontics:
Lingual braces are almost invisible, as they are bonded to the back of the teeth, but the initial affixation is slightly more complex. Lingual braces are comprised of special custom-made brackets, which are connected by a wire. Many wearers prefer the reduced aesthetic impact with these braces, but some report an initial impairment in speech.
The Damon System is a more discreet alternative to traditional fixed braces. Light wires are initially used to align the teeth, and are replaced with heavier wires as the teeth become straighter. Traditional braces use elastic rings to hold the wires in place, whereas the creators of the Damon System have replaced these rings with tiny sliding doors.
The biggest advantage of this replacement is the reduction of friction and discomfort. A reduced amount of friction allows this system of self-ligating braces to correct malocclusions quickly, and the lighter wires cause less stress to the periodontal ligaments. The Damon System is less noticeable and quicker, but can be costlier than traditional fixed systems.
SureSmile is a hi-tech system that claims to straighten teeth in a far shorter time than traditional braces. To determine the precise position and angle of each tooth, an OraScanner and/or Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) is used to take a three dimensional picture of the teeth. The archwire for the braces is created by a computer system and used to link the orthodontic brackets. The archwire is activated by body heat. The result is quicker treatment and more precise alignment. The SureSmile system is technologically advanced and effective, but can be among the more expensive forms of fixed braces.
Six Month Smiles
Six Month Smiles is designed to greatly impact aesthetics, as opposed to function. Instead of moving every tooth into alignment, this system focuses mainly on the teeth that are visible when smiling and speaking. Six Month Smiles utilizes small archwires and tooth-colored brackets to make the braces as unobtrusive as possible. Contrary to popular belief, more pressure is not added to move the teeth quickly. These cosmetic braces are popular, effective and can cost less than other technologically advanced systems.
Invisalign® Clear Braces
The Invisalign system is a series of removable aligning trays, which gradually reposition the teeth into the correct alignment. Generally, aligning trays are worn for two weeks before they are discarded for trays which fit the new positioning of the teeth. Invisalign trays can be easily removed for eating and social functions, but must be worn as much as possible for expedient results. Invisalign is a convenient type of orthodontics, but requires commitment from the wearer.
Clear, removable braces are generally recommended for minor to moderate alignment problems. Other popular brands of removable orthodontics include ClearCorrect and MTM® Clear Aligner.
If you have questions or concerns about any type of braces, please contact your dental care provider.
Do Braces Hurt?
One of the most commonly asked questions about dental braces is whether placing them causes any pain or discomfort. The honest answer is that braces do not hurt at all when they are applied to the teeth, so there is no reason to be anxious. In
most cases, there is mild soreness or discomfort after the orthodontic wire is engaged into the brackets, which may last for a few days.
There are two common types of fixed dental braces used to realign the teeth: ceramic fixed braces and metal fixed braces. Both types of fixed appliances include brackets which are affixed to each individual tooth and an archwire the orthodontist
fits into the bracket slot to gently move the teeth into proper alignment. Elastic or wire ties will be applied to hold the wire in place. Some orthodontists may use self-ligating brackets which do not require a rubber or wire tie to secure
Fixed dental braces are used to treat a wide variety of malocclusions, including overbite, underbite, crossbite, and overcrowding. If the orthodontist has determined that the malocclusion has been caused by overcrowding, it is possible that teeth
may need to be extracted to increase the amount of available space to properly align the teeth.
What to expect when getting braces
Here is an overview of what you can expect when getting braces:
Placing The Braces
The placement of braces will not be painful in the slightest. It may take longer to eat meals, but this is largely because it takes some time to adjust to wearing the braces. In some cases, the teeth may
feel more sensitive than usual. Hard, difficult to chew foods should be avoided in favor of a softer, more liquid-based diet for the first few days after placement of braces.
Two days after placement
The first several days after placement of braces can be slightly uncomfortable. This is because the teeth are beginning the realignment process and are not used to the pressure of the archwire and
orthodontic elastic bands. The orthodontist will provide relief wax to apply over the braces as necessary. Wax helps provide a smooth surface and alleviates irritation on the inner cheeks and lips. Additionally, over-the-counter
pain medication (e.g., Motrin®
) may be taken as directed to relieve mild soreness.
Five days after placement
After five days, any initial discomfort associated with the braces should be completely gone. The teeth will have gradually acclimated to the braces, and eating should be much easier.
Certain hard foods may still pose a challenge to the wearer, but normal eating may be resumed at this point.
Regular orthodontic appointments are necessary to allow the orthodontist to change the archwire, change the rubber or metal ties, and make adjustments to the braces. Fixed braces work by gradually
moving the teeth into a new and proper alignment, so gentle pressure needs to be applied constantly. The first several days after an orthodontic adjustment may be slightly uncomfortable, but remember that this discomfort will quickly fade.
Dealing with discomfort
Over-the-counter pain medication and orthodontic relief wax will help alleviate any mild soreness and discomfort following placement of braces and orthodontic adjustments. Another effective remedy is
to chew sugar-free gum, as this increases blood flow which helps reduces discomfort and can also encourage the teeth to align quicker.
If you have any questions or concerns about orthodontic treatment, please contact our office.