Although childhood is an ideal time to change the position of teeth, more and more adults are opting for orthodontic treatment with excellent results. The American Association of Orthodontists states that one in five orthodontic patients is over the age of 18.
If you are considering orthodontic treatment to correct long-standing cosmetic or occlusal problems or to remedy the effects of tooth loss, keep the following in mind:
- Adult bones have stopped growing, so certain structural changes cannot be achieved without surgery.
- The entire process may take longer for you than for a child or teen. While the time it takes to straighten teeth varies from person to person, the average treatment lasts about two years.
- If you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, you may also want to see a periodontist as well as a general dentist and orthodontist to ensure that treatment is not complicated by bone loss caused by gum disease.
How braces work
The science of orthodontics relies on applying pressure to teeth to change their position. The orthodontist accomplishes this by attaching mechanical devices or braces to the teeth and gently pushing them in the desired direction. When a tooth receives pressure from one side, its root presses against the underlying alveolar bone. Eventually, this force causes part of the bone near the root of the tooth to dissolve, allowing the tooth to move in the direction it was pushed. When teeth migrate, new bone forms in the space vacated on the other side of the tooth root. This prevents the teeth from moving back into their original positions. You may need to have one or more teeth removed before starting orthodontic treatment.
Braces are the most commonly used orthodontic device. They are extremely versatile, capable of moving teeth in multiple directions at once and treating multiple teeth at the same time. These devices rely on the use of braces that are cemented or cemented to the surface of the teeth. Archwires are attached to the molars at each end of the dental arch and pass through brackets to direct the forces exerted on the teeth. The arrangement of the wires can be customized to apply varying pressure to individual teeth. Sometimes, elastic bands or springs are attached to the archwire to enhance directional thrust.
Typically, it takes one to two hours to put braces on your teeth. You may experience pain and discomfort for a few days after your braces are put on and adjusted, but over-the-counter pain relievers can help.
Braces Innovations – Pros and Cons
Today’s braces are more comfortable and less conspicuous than braces of the past. They are smaller and use fewer parentheses. These wires are less noticeable and more efficient than previously used wires. Stainless steel braces are still commonly used because they are effective and economical. Also available in gold stand and wire. Some people, especially teenagers, choose colored tinsel and elastic for a bolder look.
Others take a different tack, opting for tooth-colored ceramic or clear plastic brackets because they are less noticeable. However, these come with some drawbacks. They tend to be more expensive than their metal counterparts. Ceramic braces can crack, and they may not be as comfortable on the lower teeth as metal braces, which tend to be smaller. Additionally, since ceramic brackets are stronger than enamel, they will wear down the enamel. For these reasons, some people choose to use ceramic brackets on their upper teeth and metal brackets on their lower teeth.
Plastic brackets are not as strong as stainless steel and may stain over time. Ceramic and plastic devices sometimes create more friction between the wires and brackets than metal braces, which means the teeth won't move as quickly and treatment may take longer.
Some orthodontists offer a device called a lingual brace, which is mounted on the back of the teeth so that the brackets and wires are not exposed when you smile. The disadvantage of these so-called invisible braces is that they can irritate the tongue and cause speech problems. They tend to be more expensive and require more care than traditional braces.