Have you always wanted to have a more even smile or a straighter teeth but have been put off by the prospect of wearing braces for over 2 years? Did you know that orthodontic treatments are considered to be amongst the most effective ways to achieve even, beautiful and healthy smile?
Braces and various orthodontic treatments have become increasingly popular amongst adults as well as children. Fortunately today’s orthodontics can offer you a wide variety of dental braces or aligners that can straighten your teeth in a matter of weeks and even stay unnoticed for the duration of your teeth straightening treatment.
The Problem with Crooked Teeth
Many people think that crooked teeth only affects the appearance. Just like eye and hair colour, genetics plays a significant role in the straightness of the teeth. Other factors include premature loss of baby teeth, poor childhood habits (e.g. thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and too much use of a pacifier), and severe facial injury.
No matter the cause, misaligned teeth have numerous adverse health effects that might surprise you.
- Gum Disease – Misaligned teeth can increase a person’s risk of developing periodontal or gum disease. When the gums are not securely fit around the teeth, it leaves more harmful oral bacteria to thrive and cause gum infection.
- Difficulty Cleaning the Teeth –It makes brushing and flossing the nooks and crannies of crooked teeth difficult, allowing bacteria to grow uncontrollably in your mouth that cause tooth decay, bad breath and gum problems.
- Enamel Erosion – When one or more teeth protrude, they rub against each other’s surface, causing undue wear of tooth erosion.
- Tooth Injuries –Protruded upper teeth are more likely to chip or crack during an accident.
- Chewing Difficulty –It can be difficult to chew properly if upper and lower teeth are misaligned.
- Low Self-Esteem and Confidence – Healthy, straight teeth can make you smile more often, which helps reduce stress and improves cognitive ability. Having crooked teeth does otherwise.
Many people may not realize that the effects of crooked teeth go beyond oral health. Several studies claimed that buildup of bacteria in your mouth could result in serious health problems, including heart disease, pneumonia, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke.
Are straight teeth the only benefit of getting orthodentics?
- Breathing or swallowing problems– Mouth breathing can lead to snoring and sleep apnea.
- Crossbite– One or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth (towards the tongue).
- Crowding– Involving extra teeth or malpositioned teeth.
- Deep Overbite– The lower front teeth bite into the upper tissue of the upper teeth.
- Disfiguring of the face & mouth– Affects the development of the jaw and position of the teeth.
- Jaw & jaw joint pain
- Missing or extra teeth– Due to tooth decay, injuries, or inherited problems.
- Overjet (protruding upper teeth)– Upper teeth that protrude beyond normal and are usually associated with a short lower jaw.
- Self-image– An attractive smile can boost a person’s self-image and confidence.
- Spacing between teeth– Teeth are missing or may be too small or too large.
- Speech, chewing or biting problems
- Underbite (lower jaw protrusion)– Lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.
Specific to children
- Finger or thumb sucking– These habits can cause protrusion of the upper incisor teeth, and mouth breathing.
- Teeth erupting out of position– Can be guided to proper alignment.
What are the options of teeth straightening?
After reading how crooked teeth can affect your oral and general health, you may be convinced to have your teeth straightened by reliable orthodontist. There are two popular solutions to straighten crooked teeth:
Traditional dental braces help correct crooked or crowded teeth, as well as misaligned jaw (also known as malocclusion). Braces have different parts that work together to slowly straighten the teeth. It includes:
- Brackets– Tiny ceramic or metal links glued onto each tooth
- Arch Wire– A long, thin piece of metallic wire that connects the brackets to pull the teeth in towards one another. This helps promote correct alignment.
- Bonding Material– A safe, mouth-friendly adhesive that connects every tooth to each bracket.
- Ligature Elastic– Also known as an “O-ring,” this popular brace part comes in various colours that you can choose. Designed to connect the arch wire and the bracket, the orthodontist needs to tighten and switch out the O-Ring to help straighten the teeth.
- Spacers– The “spacebar” button for your teeth that positioned in between each tooth, allowing the bands to fit comfortably through.
Braces straighten your teeth by continuously applying pressure on the teeth. The pressure put by the arch wire on your teeth, together with the other parts holding them in place will eventually move the teeth into the correct position. In worse cases, the orthodontist will recommend rubber bands to increase the amount of pressure on your teeth.
To truly understand how braces help straighten and align your teeth, it is important to understand how it works. With all the dental brace parts placed on your teeth, you are only seeing the top of your teeth and are not able to see how it truly works.
The gum tissues or gingiva acts as a cushion to your teeth. Found underneath the gums is the periodontal membrane, which covers and protects the lower half of the teeth. By putting pressure on the periodontal membrane, it causes the membrane to stretch out, enabling the teeth to move. This causes the bars and band to push from the other side to create adequate space to safely shift the teeth.
Braces do not simply shift teeth safely into the correct position, but they also help remodel the bone to straighten the teeth. The pressure applied to your teeth helps them become stronger. Also, new types of cells develop to provide better bone density. The arch wire is behind much of the remodelling process taking place in your mouth.
Another effective option to straighten your teeth is Invisalign. Unlike braces, Invisalign does not significantly alter the appearance of your mouth. It is a series of clear, custom-fitted aligners that are slipped over the teeth. They gradually shift your teeth into the correct alignment over a period of 12 to 24 months, depending on the condition and current alignment of your teeth.
Its design helps move teeth vertically and horizontally. In some cases, rotation is necessary to ensure the straightness of the teeth. The aligners are custom-made to provide the right level of pressure at the optimal position for maximum impact. These thermoplastic materials consist of proprietary multilayer SmartTrack explicitly designed to straighten teeth.
The orthodontist will recommend X-rays and photos of your teeth as well as a scan to create 3D models. The impressions of your teeth guide the orthodontist in personalizing the Invisalign for you. You will be given a set of instructions on how to properly wear the dental device every day. Throughout the teeth straightening process, you will receive new Invisalign every few weeks to continue moving your teeth into the correct position.
Unlike braces, where different parts work together to straighten the teeth, Invisalign only has a sequential series of aligners that create minor adjustments to achieve the desired position of teeth. The thermoplastic design then enables the aligners to shift your teeth into the right alignment gradually. Invisalign aligners can be removed anytime for eating, brushing, and flossing. As your teeth start to move, your dental health professional will replace the custom-made aligners with a new one that will take your teeth to the next incremental step.
Having healthy, straight teeth does alter your dental and overall health for the better. No matter which teeth-straightening solution you prefer, knowing how it works and what to expect can help you make a more informed and sound decision.
The Teeth Straightening Process
If you’re interested in having your teeth straightened, here’s what you can expect throughout the process:
- You’ll meet with your orthodontist so they can assess your current tooth health and alignment, and recommend a teeth straightening treatment option that’s right for you.
- If you have overcrowding issues, you may be required to visit your orthodontist for a tooth/teeth extraction before your dental braces can be fitted.
- If you’ve chosen clear braces, your orthodontist will then custom-make your clear aligner trays before your fitting.
- You’ll meet with your orthodontist for your first treatment session, during which time your dental braces will be fitted. Your orthodontist will explain how to properly maintain good oral health and hygiene during this session, show you how to properly brush and floss your teeth, and talk you through any discomfort you may experience within the first couple of days of having your braces fitted.
- You will return to your orthodontist for follow-up appointments at regular intervals to have your dental braces tightened, or to have your newest set of clear aligner trays fitted. Your orthodontist will check your treatment results and make any adjustments required to your treatment at this time, if necessary.
- Once your teeth straightening treatment is complete and your teeth are all in their properly alignment, your dental braces will be removed. Your orthodontist may specific that you continue to wear a retainer for a number of months, or more permanently, to ensure your teeth stay in their correct alignment long term.
Treatment Times and What to Expect
Teeth straightening treatment times can vary significantly between patients, depending on the severity of crowding, spacing and bite issues, and the treatment option you choose. Because the jaw has finished growing and changing in adulthood, this can extend the treatment time for some adult patients, simply because their teeth are set more permanently than someone in their teens.
Your own biology can also affect your teeth straightening treatment time, meaning that your teeth may naturally shift into alignment faster or slower than someone else. Everyone is different, and each patient’s teeth can respond uniquely to treatment.
For the majority of patients, teeth straightening with dental braces may take anywhere between just 6 months and 2 years. Your orthodontist will be able to give you an accurate estimate of how long your braces treatment will take based on their experience treating patients of similar requirements.
Why Teeth Straightening Takes Time?
While the idea of being able to magically straighten teeth in one appointment may be appealing, the simple fact is that this process takes time. Because your orthodontist is shifting your teeth – which are set into your jaw bone – into their correct alignment and position using gentle force (created by your dental braces) this has to be done gradually over time to protect the teeth from damage, and make the process as painless as possible.
Is there an age limit for getting braces?
An orthodontics treatment can be successful at any age. Braces can be fitted to the patients of all ages as long as they have healthy gums and teeth.
Braces are becoming increasingly popular between adults especially for fixing minor teeth problems. The dentists and orthodontists can improve your smile with invisible, clear or removable braces in as little as 6 months.
Do I need to keep seeing my orthodontic team during treatment?
Yes. Everyone will have their own plan tailored to them by their orthodontic team, and braces usually need adjusting every 6 to 8 weeks.
To get the best results possible, you will need regular appointments with your orthodontist. They will check your brace and teeth, and make adjustments to the brace if they need to.
Can orthodontics damage my teeth?
Your teeth can only be damaged if you don’t look after them properly during treatment.
The braces themselves will not cause any damage. But poor cleaning and too many sugary foods and drinks can cause permanent damage to your teeth. You need to clean your teeth and braces very carefully.
Because your teeth, and the roots of your teeth, move through the bone this can cause a slight shortening of the root. This change does not harm your teeth and should not stop you having treatment. Before having orthodontic treatment, it is important that any possible risks are explained to you. If orthodontic treatment is carried out incorrectly, there can be permanent damage to the jaw bone, gums and the roots of the teeth. A fully trained orthodontist will make sure this does not happen.
Is orthodontic work permanent?
It’s always possible that teeth might move. Orthodontic treatment aims to move the teeth into a stable position. This is complicated and needs a specialist understanding of where teeth can be moved to, and how.
The new position of your teeth should be a stable one. However, you should wear your braces for as long as your orthodontist advises. This will help stop your teeth from moving back to where they were. Even if they do this only slightly, you may be disappointed with the result.
You’ll also need to wear a ‘retainer’ regularly for some time after your treatment has finished. This stops your teeth moving back to the position they were in before the treatment. dentists don’t want all the hard work you’ve put in up to this point going to waste!
How do I care for my brace and teeth?
It is important to keep having your teeth checked by your dental team, at routine check-ups, while you are having orthodontic treatment and afterwards.
Clean your teeth carefully every day, including between your teeth where you can. Braces are delicate and you need to make sure you clean them carefully so that they do not break. Your dental team will be able to show you how to do this for the type of brace you are wearing.
Again, cut down on how much sugary food and drink you have and how often you have them. Also, sticky and hard foods may damage your brace.
Finally, brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day. Use a mouthwash if you need to. Your dental team may recommend a stronger fluoride toothpaste, or perhaps a fluoride gel or mouth rinse, for you to use.
How successful are braces?
In most cases, orthodontic treatment works well, but you need to be committed to your treatment for it to be successful. Follow the instructions your orthodontist gives you.
While you are wearing braces, you need to be more careful about what you eat. To give your braces the best possible chance of improving your teeth, cutting back on sugary and acidic foods is a must. This is because braces can trap bits of food and cause more plaque to build up than usual. Plaque is a thin, sticky film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth. You should keep seeing your regular dentist while having orthodontic treatment, and after your treatment has finished.