Orthodontics and Orthodontic Treatment Options
Orthodontic treatment can straighten teeth and correct a misaligned bite, but in some cases, it can take several years to achieve the end result. Before beginning treatment, it is important to investigate your options and speak with your Orthodontist to find out which orthodontic solution is best for you.
One of the most rapidly evolving areas of dentistry, orthodontics involves the use of corrective appliances or braces to straighten crooked teeth and/or repair an irregular bite. Since the introduction of new clear and "invisible" braces, orthodontic treatment has gone from something reserved for children and teenagers to an option for adults with cosmetic and functional dental issues. To learn more about orthodontics, please read the sections below.
Types of Orthodontic Treatment
Traditional or Standard Braces
Traditional or standard orthodontic treatment involves the use of brackets or bands which are bonded or cemented to the teeth. In the past, braces were only made of a polished metal alloy, usually stainless steel. Fortunately, times have changed. Now, while we still predominately use the "metal" type bracket and band systems, there are many different types of braces and/or brackets to choose from.
- the metal braces you are most familiar with and see most teenagers wearing
- ceramic, clear or tooth colored braces
- braces which are cemented on the back surfaces of the teeth or lingual braces
Once the braces are cemented to the teeth, elastics and wires then work in conjunction to straighten your teeth and bite.
Usually, traditional orthodontic treatment takes about 18 to 24 months to complete.
Invisalign is the latest advance in orthodontics and is probably now the most common type of removable orthodontic treatment. It is basically the "invisible" way to straighten teeth WITHOUT BRACES.
Using advanced 3-D computer imaging technology to project tooth movement, Invisalign creates a series of clear, custom-made aligners that gradually move your teeth.You wear each aligner for either two or three week intervals before progressively moving to the next set of aligners, until your teeth are straight.
The advantages of Invisalign over traditional orthodontics include:
- They are nearly invisible. They are very comfortable, with no wires or brackets to cause mouth sores
- They do not interfere with your speech or normal daily activities or work
- They are removable, so you can still eat and drink what you want, when you want
- They permit normal brushing and flossing, so maintaning healthy gums and teeth can be done much easier than with traditional braces
Invisalign treatment, when done by a university trained, properly educated Orthodontic Specialist, is just as effective as traditional orthodontic treatment (braces).
With Removable Orthodontics, the patient wears a removable retainer-like appliance that has various springs and attachments on it to create pressure to move the teeth into proper alignment. For many cases, this is an option provided patient compliance is excellent.
"Fast Braces" or "Six Month" Braces
This is a very aggressive form of orthodontic treatment where some or all of the teeth are reduced in size, by taking a dental handpiece (drill) and "shaving" as much as 1mm of enamel off in between each tooth to create enough space in which to straighten the teeth. Not only can this be somewhat uncomfortable, but it leaves the teeth more decay prone and sometimes quite sensitive. The trade off is that the teeth can be straightened very rapidly.
Minor Tooth Movement (MTM)
Minor tooth movement, or MTM, is an orthodontic technique used to align the upper and/lower front teeth only. There is no correction of the posterior teeth, bite, overbite or any other problems. The changes are made by using brackets (braces) on the front six teeth only. The brackets may be placed on the front or back surfaces of the teeth. This is COSMETIC in nature ONLY and permanent/semi-permanent retention will most likely be necessary!!