Why do you need Braces?
Dental braces are used to straighten crooked teeth, align upper and lower jaws, improve the aesthetics of smiles and faces, and relieve pressure on temporomandibular joints. Orthodontics refers to the use of devices to move teeth or underlying bone.
Teeth can be moved at any age. “Ideal” results can be achieved in most children but only in a small percentage of adults. This is because in children both the bone around the teeth (alveolar process) and the jawbones can be molded by braces as the child is growing. In adults the jawbones can be altered only by surgery. Therefore, it is recommended that orthodontic intervention be considered as soon as a problem in teeth alignment is noticed by the child, parent, or dentist.
What are aligners?
Aligner technology is an alternative to orthodontic braces. It uses thin, transparent plastic shells to move teeth in small increments when worn consistently.
Instead of braces that are attached to your teeth, aligners are removable and changed at intervals of 7-14 days. They look like dental bleaching trays or clear retainers.
A series of aligners are manufactured from virtual models of your teeth, with gradual or incremental movements toward straight teeth.
Aligners are designed to make small movements at a time, by putting gentle pressure on your teeth. That pressure is transferred through your roots to your jaws.
Your jaw bone responds to forces by essentially moving the sockets, and your teeth go along for the ride. Because the changes from aligner to aligner are small, treatment with aligner technology tends to be gentle and comfortable.
Aligners need to be worn 22 hours per day to be effective. This leaves time for eating, brushing, and flossing without aligners in.
Type of Braces
1. Traditional Metal Braces
These are the braces we’ve all seen before. Traditional braces use metal brackets and wires to move teeth into alignment over an extended period of time. In recent years, some orthodontists have started using heat-activated arch-wires with traditional braces. These allow the natural heat in the mouth to help move teeth quicker than ever before.
2. Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces are very similar to traditional braces. They sit on the front of the teeth, just like traditional braces, but they blend in with the teeth a little better since they’re made of tooth-colored ceramic material. The wires can sometimes be colored too to help make the braces appear invisible.
They work just as fast and effectively as metal braces but they are typically more expensive.
3. Lingual Braces
Unlike traditional and ceramic braces, lingual braces attach to the back of the teeth instead of the front. This makes them virtually invisible but more uncomfortable than traditional braces since the tongue frequently comes into contact with them.
Lingual braces can’t fix everything so if you’re interested in getting them, you should first ask your orthodontist if they’d work in your unique case.
How do clear aligners straighten teeth?
From a basic understanding, you might assume you just snap on the aligners, and your teeth begin to move. However, that’s not the case entirely.
There are a few other “parts” to clear aligner therapy.
Since aligners are not attached to the teeth, we need little pressure points called attachments.
Attachments are tooth-color bumps bonded to your teeth during your treatment. The placement and shape of them will depend upon the movement required.
Attachments help apply pressure from the aligners onto your teeth and direct them into the proper position. In the example, the attachments are shown in red.
Additionally, your treatment may call for elastics, which are also commonly used with traditional orthodontics.
Elastics (similar to a tiny rubber band) are sometimes needed to allow shifting of the upper vs. the lower teeth. Elastics are attached to slots in the aligners or small buttons attached to the teeth.
Lastly, your teeth may not fit ideally within the aligners. In that case, minor reshaping or resizing can work wonders. These procedures are minimal and typically don’t require anesthetic because they don’t cause discomfort.
It’s also important to note that while clear aligners can solve minor to complex cases, severe cases requiring challenging movements may be best suited for conventional orthodontics. That way, you get your desired result and spare no time or money in the process.