Lots of people didn’t have the chance to have orthodontic treatment as a child, and go through adulthood covering their mouth to hide their wonky teeth. If this sounds like you, then it’s never too late to have a brace, and it’s becoming much more common for adults to seek orthodontic treatment. Teeth can be misaligned, or meet together, in a number of different ways. They can also be excessively crowded, or can be spaced too far apart leaving unsightly gaps in between them.
You might remember seeing children with mouthfuls of metal, as braces used to consist of metal bands with lots of wires and elastics. Nowadays there are a number of different options, and they can consist of small metal or ceramic fasteners which are bonded individually to each tooth, using narrow wires to gently move teeth into place, or they can be even less visible as they can be bonded to the back of teeth. Some can even be removed and are almost invisible.
Advantages of Straight Teeth
Straight teeth are not only more appealing to look at but are also healthier. This is because straight teeth are far easier to keep clean. People with crowded or wonky teeth find it very difficult to floss effectively in between the teeth, and are at far greater risk of suffering from gum disease or cavities. By having orthodontic treatment you’ll be helping to protect your oral health.
One of the most popular methods of straightening teeth is to have invisible braces or aligners made. These are a little like sports mouth guards, and are constructed out of a clear, hard plastic. They work by gently moving the teeth into position, and need replacing every couple of weeks or so. They are immensely popular because they are practically invisible, and you can even leave them at home for a special night out, although you won’t want to do this too often as it could slow down your progress. They are worn all the time except while you’re at eating or drinking, or when you’re cleaning your teeth.
Your treatment begins with the dentist sending impressions of your teeth along with photos and x-rays to the company constructing the brace. They’ll use these records to make 3-D models of your teeth, and will be able to map out the entire treatment plan showing all the gradual adjustments, including where your teeth are situated now, and where they will be moved to. This information is used to make a series of clear aligners or braces, so once your teeth have moved gradually into one position you can continue the treatment by simply popping in a new brace.
A major advantage of invisible braces is that you can take them out to clean them. Traditional braces are extremely tricky to clean properly, and it takes a lot of time and energy to floss in between the wires as food frequently becomes trapped. There is always the risk that you could end up with gum disease or cavities at the end of the treatment. With removable braces there is no such problem and you don’t need to watch what you eat as you can leave them out while eating.
In the past braces could only be fitted onto the front of the teeth, but advancements in dental technology have changed all this. Lingual braces fit onto the back of your teeth and work in much the same way as traditional braces. The lingual brace is a custom made appliance that is made as a dental laboratory to fit your prescription. It consists of brackets being cemented to the back of your teeth to help realign them.
Obviously their major advantage is that lack of visibility. They take about the same amount of time to work as normal braces, and are often used for patients who like to play contact sports, or who play certain wind instruments. They are suitable for patients of any age, and are pretty popular amongst older patients. Some people are sensitive to the plastics used in invisible braces, so this is an ideal alternative.
It is important to visit the dentist regularly for checkups, and you’ll need to pay attention to your oral hygiene as it is easy for food to become trapped in lingual braces. You might also find it difficult to say certain words initially, but this effect is usually temporary.
Life after Braces
Once you have finished your orthodontic treatment, and your teeth are in the correct position you will still need to wear a removable retainer for at least a few months after the treatment, and you might need to wear it at night to make sure your teeth stay in position. Retainers are comfortable to wear, although some people find they produce extra saliva for the first few days of use. This is just and a reaction and having something new in the mouth, as it stimulates the salivary glands. It might also be a bit difficult to talk for a while, but both these issues should resolve themselves within a couple of days or so.