The Latest Orthodontic Innovations Can Straighten Teeth Faster for Kids and Adults
Achieving a straight beautiful smile is now easier than ever due to accelerated orthodontics. Straightening your teeth is no longer just for kids since technology now allows you to have barely-there treatments and you don’t need to worry about everyone noticing your braces.
Most people who are considering orthodontic treatment have one of the same questions: “How quickly can I get straighter teeth?” While it’s important to have an orthodontic evaluation before we can answer this question, there are some extraordinary orthodontic technologies available today that make it easier and faster than ever to achieve a straight, beautiful smile. Typically each patient receives a customized treatment plan with an orthodontic timetable suited to their specific situation. The timetable, for the most part, will be accurate and can be a fast treatment considering the patient does as needed. Whether you’re looking to get braces for yourself or for your child, here are some things that are good to know.
Braces Aren’t Just for Teens
Orthodontic treatment isn’t just for teens and it’s not only to straighten your teeth. Would you be surprised to learn that According to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in five patients who get orthodontic treatment is over 18 years old? In fact, the number of adults getting orthodontic treatment has increased by more than 40% since 1990.
Problems with your bite and crooked teeth can cause more issues than just decreasing your self-esteem. Many patients are surprised when they find out that misaligned teeth (malocclusion) cause many other unknown issues.
When a jaw is misaligned, it can cause some serious health concerns including:
- Jaw pain
- Chewing challenges
- Speech impediments
- Grinding teeth
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Sleep apnea caused by snoring (or mouth breathing)
Because of the harm that a misaligned smile can have, we’ve learned that you’re better off treating the malocclusion (imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaw is closed) that causes these issues rather than just treating the symptoms.
Children should have their first orthodontic consultation no later than by age 7 according to the American Association of Orthodontists. At this point, an orthodontist can see what possible orthodontic issues are developing, correct issues before braces are needed and even consider preventative measures. If you’re an adult, any time a dentist identifies a condition that could be resolved with orthodontic treatment or you’re simply ready to straighten out your smile, it’s time for an orthodontic consult.
We offer free orthodontic consultations that allow our orthodontists to examine your facial structure and teeth. New technology such as 3D dental imaging or digital X-rays also gives a more detailed view of your jaw so that the correct treatments can be determined.
How Do Braces Straighten Teeth?
Braces use pressure to straighten out your teeth. By applying consistent pressure to the teeth, the braces are able to change the tooth’s position. Once the pressure is applied to the tooth it then transfers the pressure to the root of the tooth below the gum. Ultimately, the pressure applies tension to the alveolar bone which then causes a portion of the bone to dissolve. The tooth can then move into the desired position and new bone builds up in the space that is vacated on the other side of the root.
Braces are still the most popular orthodontic treatment for many reasons but primarily because of how versatile they are. They can treat multiple teeth at once and move them in a variety of directions. With traditional metal and ceramic clear braces, the brackets are cemented onto the tooth surfaces. An archwire that’s anchored to the molars is then threaded through the brackets. Orthodontic professionals then use this archwire to direct the pressure that’s applied to the teeth.
Traditional braces are still the preferred orthodontic treatment for children. Since braces can’t be taken out children don’t lose them, requiring less parental involvement. But alternative treatments are often preferred by adults who often want a less noticeable and faster option for achieving a straighter smile.
There has been an explosion in adult orthodontics driven in part by the availability of alternative treatments, many that have dramatically shortened the duration of the treatment.
Orthodontic Treatment Options
Most orthodontic treatment plans span between 1 to 3 years, but every individual’s plan will be different since they are customized based on specific needs. Fortunately, today’s braces are a lot more comfortable and less noticeable than they were years ago. Retainers are used after braces come off to ensure everything stays in position.
Here are the types of braces your orthodontist will consider:
- Metal braces: These are the braces most adults remember. They are traditional orthodontic braces that have metal brackets glued to each of your teeth. An archwire along with elastic bands apply pressure to your teeth. The archwire is adjusted at your orthodontist visits to keep teeth moving into the desired position. This is the most popular treatment for kids since they are the most economical and sturdy option.
- Ceramic braces: Also called clear braces because they are less visible than metal braces. These operate just like traditional metal braces, but they are made of clear or tooth-colored crystalline, composite or glass brackets. Innovative technology has made these more durable compared to ceramic braces from years ago.
- Self-ligating: These orthodontic devices are gaining in popularity. They are placed like traditional metal braces but no rubber bands are used because they are not needed. Instead, a special clip helps the archwire move into position. In some cases, these are easier on your teeth, less uncomfortable and save time by requiring fewer visits to the orthodontist.
- Lingual braces: These are braces that are attached behind the teeth to make them less noticeable. Talk to your orthodontist about less visible options that might work for your treatment needs if having visible braces is a concern.
- Clear Aligners: The market for alternative orthodontic treatments is growing at more than 20% a year according to MarketWatch, even though traditional braces remain a good option for many. The majority of this growth is attributed to clear aligners; however, hybrid treatment technologies are also developing.
- Also called aligner trays, Invisalign® is the leading provider of clear aligner technology. When using aligners, your teeth are gradually shifted into position as you progress through a series of different clear, plastic trays. The aligners are virtually invisible and can be used for both mild and more severe cases. Depending on the number of trays required, treatment can range from just six months to over two years. New materials and techniques have made aligner therapy much more effective in recent years cutting Invisalign treatment times by up to 50 percent.
- Sagittal First: This is an emergent multi-phase orthodontic treatment technique that employs a specialized correction device to resolve the most difficult part of the treatment upfront before placing brackets or clear aligners. This hybrid approach reduces overall treatment length by up to six months. Sagittal First treatment can be used on all types of malocclusion to both simplify treatment and minimize the need for extractions.
Manage your Orthodontic Timetable
There will certainly be things outside of your control when it comes to the duration of your orthodontic treatment, but there are things you can do to stay on track or not slow down progress. Here are four tips:
- Follow all instructions – The more you follow your orthodontist’s instructions, the more you’ll stay on track. Treatment time will be extended if you don’t follow instructions, such as wearing your rubber bands for the specified time or use other tools requested by the orthodontist to get your teeth into position. This is especially important in the case of clear aligners. Aligners should be worn between 20 and 22 hours a day for maximum impact. You should only remove them temporarily when you’re eating, brushing, or flossing your teeth.
- Avoid foods that could harm your braces – Some foods, notably chewy or hard foods, can damage or loosen your brackets or the bend wires. If your brackets aren’t properly adhered to, they can’t do their job adequately. So, follow the guidelines recommended by your orthodontist: say “no” to sticky foods such as caramels and taffy; avoid chewing ice and chewing gum; don’t crunch on popcorn, nuts, hard pretzels, and other hard foods; and before enjoying difficult to bite foods such as apples or corn on the cub cut it into pieces.
- Keep all scheduled ortho appointments – Most orthodontic patients need to visit our office every 5 to 10 weeks to get their braces adjusted. If you miss appointments, you might extend your treatment time.
- Practice good oral hygiene – When you have braces it’s very important to be extra good about practicing good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing thoroughly in order to avoid tooth decay or infections. In some cases, your orthodontic care could be stalled while other issues caused by bad oral hygiene get resolved. Be sure to keep your regular dental cleanings and exams every six months even when you have braces.
Today’s Orthodontics: Better than Ever
A properly aligned jaw and straight teeth not only create a beautiful smile but can be important for your overall health. It’s never too late and you’re never too old to start orthodontic treatment. With today’s technology, both children and adults have more ways than ever to achieve a healthy smile. Schedule your free consultation with a Monarch Dental orthodontist today to find out which type of treatment would be best for you.