Orthodontics is a specialist branch of dentistry focused on the correction of bite problems and other dental irregularities. Most orthodontic problems can be easily treated with braces or similar device, which apply constant pressure on the teeth or jaw and gradually pull them into the desired position.
What are the benefits?
As well as a straighter smile, brushing, cleaning and chewing can become easier with orthodontics. It can prevent unnecessary wear of the teeth and even improve speech difficulties caused by a misaligned jaw.
Can anyone have orthodontic work?
Anyone with irregular or crooked teeth can consider orthodontic work, as long as they are generally in good health and maintain good oral hygiene. The best effects of orthodontic work can often be seen in children and teenagers when the teeth are still growing and easier to manipulate into the correct position.
Orthodontic work is still suitable for adults but will take longer as their teeth have finished growing and are more firmly set in place.
What are the options?
There are a wide range of Orthodontic treatments on offer, each with their different advantages and disadvantages which should be carefully considered before a decision is made.
The first option is a regular orthodontic brace which is made from wire and metal plates, fixed in the mouth and then tightened every few weeks, pulling the teeth/jaw into position. People are often put off by the length of treatment (often over a year) and the fact the brace is so evident. However, there are a few other treatments that offer similar benefits without the visibility of a regular brace.
Some people opt to have lingual braces fitted; these are like regular braces but are fixed to the back side of the teeth and so hidden from view. Although a good alternative they can be more expensive and occasionally more uncomfortable than regular braces.
Invisible aligners are another option to be considered; these include Invisalign and Clearstep which use very thin, clear aligners to pull the teeth into position. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks before being swapped for another one, each one getting closer and closer to the desired angle and position for the teeth.
The advantage of these treatments is that the aligners are removable, meaning tooth cleaning is very easy and because they are almost invisible people feel a lot more confident wearing them
The Inman aligner is also an option although this is only suitable for treating crooked teeth and doesn’t really help with malocclusions. It does show a metal bar across the front of the teeth but this is not as visible or garish as the wire, regular braces. The mechanism works through a spring on the lingual side of the teeth applying pushing and pulling pressure on the teeth, drawing them into place. The advantage of this treatment is that the device is removable and the effects can be very fast (often within a few months) but it is not suitable for everyone. Please speak to your orthodontist about this.
How long does it last?
Orthodontic work should last a lifetime but needs to be maintained by wearing a retainer. The teeth will have a tendency to return to their original position and this needs to be combated by wearing a retainer which is usually only worn for a few nights a week.
What are the side effects?
There can often be some mild pain or discomfort once a brace or new aligner is fitted but this usually subsides within a day or two as the mouth gets used to the new appliance.