Teeth straightening refers to a variety of cosmetic dentistry procedures designed to correct crooked teeth. While dental braces are still used in some cases for adults as well as children recent advances in technology have introduced new methods for straightening teeth, including aligners, removable retainers and more.
Invisalign braces are among the latest technologies dentists can rely on to straighten crooked teeth. Through a series of clear aligners that are customized for each individual, Invisalign braces gradually realign a client's teeth into their desired positions.
The Invisalign procedure begins with a consultation with a qualified cosmetic dentist, who will discuss goals and desired results with the client. The dentist then takes bite impressions from the client's mouth and uses computerized mapping and design technology to create a series of invisible, removable teeth aligners. Once the aligners are made, the client returns to the dentist's office to receive the first one. The client wears that aligner night and day for 2 weeks, taking it out only to eat, brush and floss. Every 2 weeks, the client goes back to the dentist's office to pick up the next in the series of aligners, repeating the process for about a year, on average, until the client's teeth reach their final, desired positions.
The best candidates for Invisalign braces are teenagers and adults whose teeth are overly crowded, widely spaced or exhibit overbites, underbites, crossbites or other alignment problems.
There are no real risks or side effects to Invisalign treatments performed by a board-certified dentist in a sterilized setting. Because there are no wires or brackets, clients experience little to no discomfort.
Orthodontic braces are the most common instruments used for straightening teeth. Fortunately, the old, metal-and-wire dental braces have by and large been replaced by newer, less noticeable, more comfortable braces. Cosmetic dentists can now use improved adhesive bond technology to affix smaller brackets in many cases, clear braces to the front of a client's teeth, thus eliminating the shiny steel smiles caused by earlier braces.
The process for getting braces remains relatively unchanged. The cosmetic dentist adheres the brackets to the teeth, either on the front or the back. (Lingual-type brackets can be positioned on the back of teeth these days for greater concealment.) Once the brackets are in place, the dentist connects them with stainless steel wire. The size of the wire will vary according to how much pressure is needed to realign the teeth. The dentist then tightens these wires to begin moving the teeth from their original positions toward their desired positions. The dentist will continue to tighten the wires at regularly scheduled intervals until the teeth reach the client's desired final positions.
While there are few risks or side effects to an orthodontic braces procedure performed by a board-certified dentist in a sterilized setting, many clients feel discomfort when their braces are first installed, and again when the dentist readjusts them. This is a common reaction that subsides over time. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help relieve the discomfort.
The initial appointment to install dental braces can take up to two-and-a-half hours, depending on the individual client. After that, the client will see the dentist every 4 to 7 weeks for wire readjustments. Teens and younger children generally wear orthodontic braces for about 2 years before the final results are achieved, while adults typically need to wear them for about 28 months.
After dental braces are removed, clients may need to wear retainers for up to a year. The retainer, a custom-fitted device usually made of rubber or clear plastic, along with metal wires that fit the outside of the teeth, will help the newly positioned teeth maintain their new position while the gums, bones and muscles in the mouth adjust to the change. The retainer is usually worn around the clock during the first 6 months, then only while the client is sleeping for the remainder of the treatment cycle.
It's important to point out that cosmetic dentistry procedures involving Invisalign or orthodontic braces can only correct flaws in the client's teeth. Other facial concerns can only be addressed through different cosmetic procedures. Clients should discuss their goals and desired results with a qualified, dentist before undergoing any cosmetic dentistry procedure.
Certain dental conditions may affect your candidacy for orthodontics. If you have oral health problems, they must first be managed before orthodontic treatment can be planned and initiated. For example, if you have a toothache, it may be the sign of tooth decay, a root canal or gum disease. Similarly, if you are missing teeth, or have recently undergone wisdom teeth removal, your candidacy for braces may be affected.
Other dental procedures may be available as an alternative to orthodontic treatment. Porcelain veneers also may serve to correct minor bite or tooth spacing irregularities. Be sure to discuss all available options with your dentist before selecting any course of treatment.