Orthodontics is a dentistry discipline that focuses on the alignment of a patient’s jaws and teeth to improve their oral health and smile. Orthodontists diagnose, prevent and treat teeth irregularities by using devices known as braces – fixed dental appliances – and removable dental appliances once the braces have been removed. Braces can be used to correct irregular bits, straighten teeth, bring lips and teeth into proper alignment, and to close unsightly gaps. Crooked teeth that don’t correctly fit together are harder to maintain or to keep clean and are usually at risk of being lost early due to periodontal disease or tooth decay.
Proper oral hygiene is crucial when you have orthodontic appliances, such as braces, on. Brushing two times a day with a fluoride-based toothpaste for 2-minutes, scheduling frequent dental visits, and flossing are all vital in helping ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy.
It is vital that patients with braces limit the intake of sugary snack in-between meals and maintain a balanced diet. Your dentist could recommend that you avoid foods like nuts, hard candy, popcorn, and sticky and icy foods such as caramel and chewing gum as they could interfere with your braces or accidentally damage the device.
Orthodontics benefits include a more pleasing appearance, a healthier mouth, and teeth that will likely last you a lifetime.
There are several options, both removable and fixed, that help retain muscles, move teeth and affect jaw growth. They work by placing little pressure on teeth as they grow and move within the jaw bone.
The most commonly used fixed treatment option, braces, is consisted of elastic bands, an archwire, and brackets. The brackets are bonded to the front of the patient’s teeth and are used as the braces’ anchors. Archwires are then placed through the bracket, and elastic bands are used to secure the archwire within the bracket. When the archwire is tightened, it puts tension on the teeth, slowly moving them into their proper position. Braces need to be adjusted every four to six weeks for the desired results to be achieved – something that could take one to about three years.
Modern braces are much lighter, smaller and show far less metal than traditional ones. They are available in bright color for children, but adults mostly prefer clear ones.
Once braces have been removed, a retainer will have to be worn on both the lower and upper jaws (or where braces originally were) for at least one whole year to ensure that the teeth hold their place in their new position.
While a bit of discomfort is to be expected during orthodontic treatments, modern braces are far more comfortable than before. Newer orthodontic materials and technique have been developed, considerably shortening the amount of time required for your teeth to move.
Here is a look at some of the orthodontic treatment options available:
These braces self-ligate which means that they do not require the use of elastic bands to fasten the archwires to the bracket. In Damon braces, the bracket uses a slide mechanism. Since elastic bands are no longer needed, this reduces the friction they cause, something that’s been known to slow down treatment.
With Damon braces, the patient’s teeth can move into their respective place more freely, decreasing treatment time. At the same time, they’re more aesthetically-pleasing since the brackets are less noticeable compared to traditional metal brackets. The downside of Damon braces is that they are usually quite expensive. Consult your orthodontist to find out if you are a good candidate for Damon braces.
Invisalign is basically a set of bespoke, clear plastic aligners designed to move your teeth into the right position. Patients have to switch to a new set of aligners about twice a month, repeating the same until their teeth sit in the correct position.
This aligner is designed to deliver the same results as traditional braces but is less noticeable; and, therefore, offers greater aesthetic advantages. Aligners are to be removed before flossing, brushing and eating and generally don’t take as long as braces to achieve realistic results.
Also known as invisible braces, lingual braces are placed on the teeth’s interior side (by the palate and tongue) and are one of the best options for people concerned about appearances. Just like traditional braces, the patient’s teeth are straightened using constant yet gentle pressure, which helps them slowly shift into the right position. Lingual braces usually require a lot of customization and are generally costlier.
While treatments plans are often customized, a lot of people wear braces for anywhere between one to three years, depending on the position of their occlusion and teeth, and their individual needs.