Traditional orthodontics involves the use of braces or brackets placed on the teeth and wires to move teeth into their proper position. Invisalign or aligners involves the use of a series of clear removable plastic trays to move teeth, a little at a time into their final positions. While aligners have become very popular due to their appearance and ability to remove them for eating and brushing, they do have some limitations. We use aligners to correct crowding, but not for cases where bite correction is needed. Also, they will only work if patients wear them constantly and keeping them out of the mouth for as little as two hours a day severely limits their effectiveness. We, as orthodontists, are trained to correct the bite while improving aesthetics and do our best to educate the patient what option is best for them.
Traditional braces involve clear ceramic or stainless steel brackets that are placed on the outsides of the teeth with wires that move the teeth. These braces now are much smaller and comfortable than those used several years ago, and come in different fun shapes and colors. Traditional braces still are the “gold standard” for the final result and quality of treatment.
Clear braces remain a very good option for patients. They are made of a ceramic material and are much less visible. We also use wires that are tooth-colored to minimize the visibility.
Lingual braces are a technique where braces are mounted behind a patient’s teeth. These types of braces can be effective with certain types of crowding. We often use these types of braces for parents of our patients who have lower incisor crowding.
6-month braces are traditional braces, but only align the front or the incisor teeth. We correct crowding in a short time, when it is relatively minor and there is no bite correction needed. It is important to note that not every one is a candidate for this treatment, and generally speaking, this method is not for patients who need bite correction. Also, trying to do treatment too quickly can do harm.
About 25% of our orthodontic patients are adults! Adults come in for orthodontic treatment for a variety of reasons:
First, aesthetics. Many adults have waited a long time to straighten their teeth. Often we have parents of our teenage patients, who decide to get braces while their children are doing it. They figure they're at the orthodontist's office anyway, so why not. Many are surprised to find that correcting the crowding does not take as long as they think. We have many adults who we have treated in 6 months.
Second, oral health. Straightening the teeth makes brushing and flossing so much easier. With studies now showing that periodontal disease is linked to heart disease, more and more adults are becoming aware of the need to maintain their periodontal health and keeping their teeth straight makes that much easier.
Third, correction of the bite. Many adults are referred to us by their family dentist because they are wearing away their teeth because of an incorrect bite. This leads to more cracks and wear of the enamel, which in turn, leads to more expensive crowns and dental work. A small percentage of adults are referred to us for bite correction to help in correcting problems with their TMJ or jaw joints.
Most adults do not come in for a consultation with the orthodontist because (1) braces are for kids only, and they remember braces as being those big unsightly bands that kids had 20 years ago, (2) braces take 2-3 years long, and (3) braces are very expensive. Well, braces have changed a lot now, with options of clear braces, braces on the inside or lingual braces and clear aligners. If it is only correction of crowding, it can sometimes take as little as 6 months. The costs of shorter treatments are considerably less, and many insurances cover adult orthodontics. We also have payment plans, and adults who use their savings accounts to pay for orthodontic treatment.
We offer consultations at no charge, and when adults overcome their initial hesitation to come in for a checkup, more often than not, they are pleasantly surprised at their options and the cost.