What are orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Crooked teeth are harder to keep clean, are at risk of being lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain. Teeth that are crooked or not in the right place can also detract from one's appearance.
The benefits of orthodontic treatment include a healthier mouth, a more pleasing appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime.
Many different types of appliances, both fixed and removable, are used to help move teeth, retrain muscles and affect the growth of the jaws. These appliances work by placing gentle pressure on the teeth and jaws. The severity of your problem will determine which orthodontic approach is likely to be the most effective. Traditional braces and clear aligner system (e.g. Invisalign, ClearCorrect, SureSmiles) are most common ways for orthodontic treatment.
Traditional braces are still the most common fixed appliances. They consist of bands, wires and/or brackets. Bands are fixed around the teeth or tooth and used as anchors for the appliance, while brackets are most often bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires are passed through the brackets and attached to the bands. Tightening the arch wire puts tension on the teeth, gradually moving them to their proper position. Braces are usually adjusted monthly to bring about the desired results, which may be achieved within a few months to a few years. Today's braces are smaller, lighter and show far less metal than in the past. They come in bright colors for kids as well as clear styles preferred by many adults.
Clear aligners are removal appliance for orthodontic treatments. Invisalign, ClearCorrect, SurSmile are some of the popular brand names for clear aligners. Aligner trays made of smooth, comfortable, BPA-free clear plastic are worn over your teeth to subtly and gently move your teeth. A precise 3-D image of your teeth is created and simulated on computer for the whole procedure. Aligner trays are fabricated for each stage according to the computer simulation. Usually each set of aligners is to be worn for 2 weeks and then move on to the next set. Aligners are virtually invisible and are required to be worn inside your mouth during the day and night time. Only time to take them out is when eating, brushing and flossing.
Braces vs. Clear Aligners
How long to wear daily?
All day long
Good for easy, moderate, hard cases
Metal, white, clear
22 + hours daily
Can take aligners out when eating, brushing, or flossing
Need to be disciplined to putting the aligners back.
Good for easy to moderate case. Not recommended for more complex case.