The What and How of Teeth Alignment
Teeth alignment is required not only because it enables you to smile without thinking about your teeth leaning towards one another, but also because failing to address the problem may lead to further damage to teeth. Here is what treatment options there are and why teeth straightening is highly advisable.
A dentist specializing in treatment of malocclusions, i.e. cases when teeth are crooked and the bite is improper, is the person who can help you straighten your teeth.
Teeth become crooked due to several reasons. Hereditary factors may play a role, but environmental and other factors are no less significant. Mouth breathing, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and other habits may also be to blame.
Every teeth alignment treatment option aims to force the teeth to move to the positions where they should be by applying pressure. Very slowly, the bone changes its shape (according to the way teeth move) to let the teeth return to their original positions.
Here are the options that are widely used today.
The traditional way of teeth alignment, braces are one of the most popular options, but aesthetics is what is often sacrificed for a healthy smile afterwards. Modern braces are made of ceramic or metal and bonded to the teeth with the help of a special material reminding of glue. Inside these brackets, an arch wire is inserted. It is made of a nickel-titanium source and activated by the heat in the mouth: the arch is adjusted by an orthodontist in such a way so that the heat makes the arch try to regain its shape, applying pressure to the teeth that do not share the arch’s idea of its correct position.
Braces should be cleaned regularly using special brushes. Besides, your orthodontist will check and adjust your braces from time to time as your teeth are moving. The time it takes to have your teeth straightened may vary, and many adults have to cope with them for a couple of years, because their bones have already stopped growing, and it is more difficult to fix the smile in adults than in children (although, on the other hand, children’s teeth and bones are more difficult to treat due to the growing processes going on). In some cases, the duration of treatment may be around three years.
Even after braces are removed, the process of malocclusion treatment is not over. Now that the teeth are lined up properly, the patient should help them stay in this position. To do this, one should wear retainers. They can be fixed or removable and are usually worn for some more time after active orthodontic treatment.
Braces are a tried-and-true way of making your teeth abide by the rules of normal positioning in the jaw, but their appearance is something that often makes patients want to stop smiling until the orthodontic device is removed.
To address this issue, scientists specializing in dentistry developed special devices called aligners. Aligners are a kind of retainers that are made of clear plastic, so there is no metal attracting everyone’s attention. One of the most popular manufacturers of clear aligners is Invisalign.
Aligners are usually used in patients with mild cases of malocclusion or minor dental issues. The times it takes for aligners to position the teeth correctly is almost the same, as it varies from 10 to 24 months. As to effectiveness, there is evidence suggesting that it is a viable option which can be used in adults, but its capabilities are limited, and not all kinds of orthodontic issues can be treated this way.
These are the key orthodontic treatment options. Improper bites are quite a difficult thing to treat, because it requires great skill: all brace arches and aligners are custom, so the orthodontist’s expertise is what plays a very important role in whether the treatment will be effective.
Note that treatment of malocclusion is highly advisable not due to cosmetic reasons, but because improper bites may lead to more cavities, swallowing and digestion problems, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and other problems.
Are you too old for braces? – health.harvard.edu
What Are Retainers? – medicinenet.com