A generation ago it was extremely unusual to see an adult with braces on their teeth. Today that is no longer the case. Thanks to advances in dental technology, greater access to care, and an increased awareness of the benefits of a beautiful and healthy smile; now over twenty percent of people wearing orthodontic appliances are adults.
With the wide variety of orthodontic treatment options available to adults, the process of wearing braces is more convenient, more comfortable, more efficient and much less conspicuous than ever before. Bulky metal braces are truly a thing of the past. The latest generations of metal appliances are substantially smaller and less unsightly than any of their predecessors. Moreover, an adult interested in orthodontic care can select braces that are hardly visible at all. Today’s tooth -colored ceramic braces, lingual braces or removable clear aligners can all effectively deliver treatment to achieve successful and pleasing outcomes of care.
Although, adult orthodontics requires an investment of time and resources the payoff is well worth it. The value of a healthy and attractive smile is priceless. Thanks to modern orthodontics, having teeth that look good and function well is something that can be enjoyed at any age.
In cases where a set of conventional braces is the best approach to care, but a more cosmetic appearance is desired, ceramic braces offer an excellent alternative to metal braces. Ceramic braces, or clear braces, blend in with the natural color of your teeth. While being far less visible, they still function in very much the same way as metal braces to deliver outstanding results of care. An excellent aesthetic choice, ceramic braces can be a bit more fragile than their metal counterparts.
Often habits such as prolonged thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and certain swallowing or breathing patterns that can open or distort the bite are better dealt with when care is initiated at a younger age. Interceptive treatment is also helpful when the top jaw is too narrow, not developing in harmony with the lower jaw, or permanent top teeth are behind the lower ones when closing the jaws. Likewise, if a young child’s front teeth protrude excessively or very severe crowding is present a first phase of orthodontic care can be beneficial.
The objectives of interceptive treatment and a first phase of orthodontic care are to influence jaw growth, create more space for crowded teeth, help to correct harmful habits, and improve facial aesthetics. With interceptive treatment the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth as well as the need for extractions of permanent teeth can be lessened. Interceptive treatment can also simplify the next phase of orthodontic care.
Invisalign®* is a form of orthodontic treatment that works to correct many different types of malocclusions through the use of a series of clear plastic trays called aligners. In many cases it provides an excellent treatment alternative to traditional orthodontic braces and metal wires.
Invisalign utilizes 3-D computer imaging technology to correct problematic bites or malocclusions by planning a complete sequence of custom-made clear aligners. This series of clear aligners, each of which is worn for a couple of weeks, incrementally move the teeth into place until the final desired corrections are reached.
The advantage and appeal of Invisalign appliances is that they are more cosmetic and more comfortable than most other orthodontic appliances. With Invisalign appliances orthodontic treatment is practically “invisible.”
Invisalign®* offers adults and teens a more cosmetic, comfortable and convenient alternative to other types of orthodontic appliances.
Designed to move teeth through a planned sequence of clear aligners, Invisalign is virtually invisible to the outside world. Transforming smiles with minimal interference to daily activities, Invisalign allows teens and adults to enjoy eating all of their favorite foods, and engage in sports without the fear of breaking their orthodontic appliances or sharp poking wires. Moreover, as the aligners are completely removable, toothbrushing and flossing is much easier. There is no need to struggle to clean in between and around any attached orthodontic brackets and wires.
While not a solution for every type of orthodontic case, treatment with Invisalign is an excellent choice for many image-conscious teens and adults. The most discrete and easy to wear option in orthodontic care, Invisalign for teens also features a special blue dot indicator to monitor treatment compliance.
*Invisalign is a registered trademark of Align Technology, Inc.
Taking care to protect your braces from damage and your mouth from injury is extremely important. Wearing a mouthguard while participating in sports is a good way to safeguard your appliances as well as your smile. It is important that you wear a mouthguard that has been specifically designed to fit over your braces. Our office can guide you in selecting the most suitable one.
Other types of orthodontic appliances may also be used during the course of treatment. Some of these appliances are removable and can be taken in and out of the mouth, while others will be attached to the teeth until they are no longer needed.
Depending upon the specific needs of the case, these appliances may be used to accomplish a number of things including:
Preserving and stabilizing the result of your orthodontic treatment is known as “retention” and the appliances used for this purpose are called “retainers”. Almost every individual who has undergone orthodontic care will need to wear some type of a retainer.
There are two major kinds of orthodontic retainers. A removable retainer is one that can be taken in and out of the mouth, while a permanent retainer is fixed or bonded to the back of the teeth. Before removing your braces our orthodontist will explain which of the available retainer options you will need to maintain your smile.
Removable retainers come in two forms. A Hawley retainer is the most traditional orthodontic retainer. It is typically an acrylic based appliance with a single wire that sits in front of the teeth to maintain the corrections along with some small clasps to stabilize it in the mouth. The other type of removable retainer is a vacuform “invisible” retainer, which is called an Essix retainer. This retainer looks similar to a clear custom bleaching tray or dental aligner. It is made of a thin transparent plastic that is fabricated to precisely fit over the teeth and prevent any unwanted shifting. While a Hawley retainer has the advantages of being quite durable and easy to adjust, an Essix retainer is less visible and can be easier to adapt to wearing.
In some cases a fixed retainer may be recommended to maintain a corrected smile. A fixed retainer is a special thin wire that is bonded to the back of the front teeth. It remains in place all of the time and does not show at all when you smile. This type of retainer is a good option when there’s a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position, especially the lower front teeth. A fixed retainer provides excellent stability, but requires extra care to keep the teeth and gums around the appliance clean.
At the time your retainers are inserted, we will provide you with detailed guidelines for wearing these appliances as well as directions as to how to clean and care for them.
Most problems involving the alignment of your child’s teeth and the growth of their jaws can be identified by the time they are in the first or second grade. That is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have a check up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. At this visit the orthodontist will carefully examine your child’s bite and assess the alignment and development of the teeth. The orthodontist will also look at the growth and relationships of the jaws, and in particular check for any shifts or dysfunction. It will also be determined if any premature tooth loss, habits, swallowing or breathing patterns are having an effect on your child’s occlusion.
Following this visit the orthodontist will indicate if any immediate preventative or interceptive orthodontic care is needed. In many circumstances no treatment is required right away and the child can be observed until it is the appropriate time for care. Your child’s dental development as well as their prospective facial growth will be carefully considered in outlining the best timetable for care.
Orthodontic treatment for children typically begins between the ages of 9 and 14. At this time they are generally in the mid to late mixed dentition stage. This means they have a mix of permanent front teeth, permanent molars, and some baby teeth. The benefit of placing braces at this stage is that the orthodontist can improve the alignment of permanent front teeth, guide the incoming new adult teeth into position, and utilize the child’s growth and development to best advantage.
Often habits such as prolonged thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and certain swallowing or breathing patterns that can open or distort the bite are better dealt with when care is initiated at a younger age. Early treatment is also helpful when the top jaw is too narrow, not developing in harmony with the lower jaw, or if permanent top teeth are behind the lower ones when closing the jaws. Likewise, if a young child’s front teeth protrude excessively or very severe crowding is present a first phase of orthodontic care can be beneficial.
The objectives of early treatment and a first phase of orthodontic care are to influence jaw growth, create more space for crowded teeth, help to correct harmful habits, and improve facial aesthetics. With early treatment the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth as well as the need for extractions of permanent teeth can be lessened. Early treatment can also simplify the next phase of orthodontic care.
Greater than half of all orthodontic patients are teenagers between the ages of 12 to 17 years. At this stage of development most of their permanent teeth, with the exception of the wisdom teeth, have already erupted into place. Any problems with the alignment of the teeth, issues with the bite, as well as discrepancies in jaw relationships are readily detectable at this time, making your teen an excellent candidate for orthodontic care.
The teenage years are typically a time of significant physical and emotional development. In addition to acquiring a more adult appearance, teens are developing a heightened sense of self-awareness, building self-confidence, and investing more in peer relationships. Having teeth that are crooked, gapped, crowded, or protruding can have a negative impact on their self-image as well as their self-esteem. In addition to that, malocclusions can predispose teens to TMJ issues, headaches, and dental disease.
Helping your teen to achieve a well aligned, more pleasing, and healthier smile means making a commitment to orthodontic care. Although orthodontic treatment involves wearing some type of appliances and takes time, the ultimate reward of a beautiful smile is well worth the effort.
The good news is that, thanks to advances in modern orthodontics today’s image conscious teens can choose from a wide selection of braces that are far less bulky, much less noticeable, and more comfortable than ever before.
The most common type of braces seen today remain “metal braces”. Made of high-grade stainless steel these braces are significantly smaller and have a lower profile than their predecessors from years ago. Each brace, which is known as an orthodontic bracket, is individually bonded to the front of each tooth. Metal braces allow for efficient and highly controllable tooth movement.