You’re not alone if during one of your visits to the dentist he or she suggests a visit to an orthodontist for a consultation. Many people, adults included, will find themselves in the need of quality orthodontics at some point in their lives. Of course if you never had treatment has a kid the chances are much more likely that you’ll need it as an adult. However, even some patients who had braces as kids may need a little extra work down as adults. Things do shift around over the years after all. Orthodontic treatment is more than just cosmetic. Many times cleaning is more difficult because of crowded or misaligned teeth. In addition, when the jaw is out of alignment serious health issues can develop. So whether the dentist suggested treatment or you just want to straighten your smile, it’s a good idea to visit an orthodontist.
Your consultation with the orthodontist will be a unique experience. It’s likely that you’ll get a tour of the office, and there will definitely be equipment and tools you’ve never seen before. Don’t fret, orthodontic procedure usually involve discomfort at worst, there’s usually no need for Novocaine and the like. During your initial meeting the orthodontist may offer some opinions as to courses of treatment he or she thinks will work, but remember nothing is final until a full evaluation, including x-rays, is made.
Orthodontists use many different types of braces and other appliances, it all depends on what the patient’s unique situation calls for. The goal of these devices is generally to straighten the teeth, adjust the alignment of the jaw line, and position teeth correctly with regards to a person’s bite.
Orthodontists use braces to move the teeth into the desired position with force and pressure. Over time, the end is result is a perfectly straight smile. Braces have been in use for hundreds of years, there’s even evidence that Ancient Romans were using wires to shape teeth. However, modern orthodontics is an advanced field that makes use of new technology on a frequent basis. When it comes to braces, patients have options. Let’s look at some of the different types now:
- Traditional Braces - These braces (and all of the braces on this list) use several basic components to achieve the goal of straightening teeth. Traditional braces are generally made of stainless steel. The components are brackets, arch wires, and ligatures. Once the course of treatment is decided upon, the process can begin. First the orthodontist will make sure the teeth are thoroughly clean, then the brackets will be attached to the individual teeth with an incredibly strong bonding agent. The arch wires run horizontally through the brackets on each dental arch. The ligature is used to secure them to the brackets, and then treatment can begin. The wires will be tightened on a regular basis to increase pressure and move the teeth, and this process can cause some discomfort.
- Clear Braces – Just like traditional braces, arch wires and brackets are used to straighten the teeth. Clear braces serve a cosmetic purpose however, as they are much more difficult to notice on the patient’s teeth. Instead of steel, a clear plastic polymer or ceramic is used. Many professional orthodontists offer discreet treatment options like this.
- Lingual Braces – Also known as hidden braces, lingual braces are attached to the backs of the teeth instead of the front. They still use wires and brackets, they are just hidden from view. They are a great option for people who need to keep up professional appearances.
It should be noted that many orthodontists are turning to titanium based braces instead of stainless steel. The material is stronger and lighter than steel, and presents a better option in general. We’ve listed some of the most common types of braces, but this list is far from conclusive. There are options like gold-plated braces available, and new appliances like Smart Braces are being developed at this time.
Many people have noticed some of the main drawbacks of braces and taken steps to find better solutions. In some cases a patient might be a perfect candidate for Invisalign, a type of invisible braces offered by many professional orthodontists. Invisalign uses clear plastic aligners instead of brackets and wires, and is quite effective in treating crooked smiles. There are millions of satisfied patients to back up that claim. Instead of using brute force, the plastic aligners gently guide the teeth into position. At regular intervals the aligners will be swapped out for a new set along the treatment course. The toughest cases of malocclusion and misalignment will still require some type of traditional braces, but it’s nice to know there are options out there that make treatment more discreet and easier.
Obviously you’ve got a variety of options when it comes to orthodontic treatment. Be sure to carefully evaluate all of your options.