What a difference straight teeth can make! A great-looking smile can boost your self-confidence and have a positive impact on social and professional life. Orthodontic treatment is the most trusted smile makeover tool and you’re never too old to have it done! Even though they can make your smile straighter and more visually pleasing, it isn’t always about looks. A straighter smile can lead to healthier gums, a better bite, and fewer dental complications as you get older.
The amazing thing about orthodontic treatments is that it takes advantage of the body’s natural ability to remodel and repair its own tissue. With the application of light, constant force, orthodontic appliances gently reshape the bones and move teeth into better positions. Some examples of these appliances are traditional metal braces, discreet clear or tooth-colored braces, and clear aligners, which are a relatively new option for adults and teens.
Bite Problems and How to Fix Them
Orthodontic treatment can resolve a number of bite problems, which usually become evident by around the age of 7. These include underbite, crossbite, or excessive overbite, where upper and lower teeth don’t close in the proper position. Open bite can also occur. This is where a space remains between top and bottom teeth when the jaws are closed. Crowding or excessive spacing can easily be treated as well. That is where teeth are spaced too close together or too far apart.
To correct bite problems, teeth need to be moved to their proper position in your mouth. But, the great thing about doing that is it isn’t as hard as you might think! Teeth surprisingly aren’t fixed rigidly in their supporting bone, rather, they’re held in place by a hammock-like structure called the periodontal ligament. This ligament is very responsive to the forces placed on your teeth. Orthodontic appliances move teeth by the careful application of light, constant pressure over a prolonged period of time. This force can be applied via traditional braces that are made of metal wires that run through small brackets attached to the teeth, or via the semi-rigid plastic of clear aligners.
Orthodontics is for Children — and Adults
Making sure orthodontic treatment is performed in childhood is ideal in order to take advantage of a youngster’s natural growth processes when teeth are growing and moving around. During this time, a child’s body is growing and changing and that is no different for their teeth. So at this time it’s possible to create more room for teeth in a crowded mouth, for example, by using a “palatal expander” to rapidly widen the upper jaw. This phase of growth modification can shorten overall treatment time and ensure the best possible results if additional orthodontic appliances are needed.
But remember, healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so you’ve never “missed the boat” for orthodontic treatment! Actually, about one in five of today’s orthodontic patients are adults. Several new technological developments including tooth-colored ceramic braces, clear aligners and invisible lingual braces have made orthodontic appliances less evident. This has enhanced the treatment experience for adults and kids alike. Before treatment, adults are carefully examined for signs of periodontal (gum) disease, which will be brought under control before treatment begins.
Types of Orthodontic Appliances
Retention & Post Orthodontic Care
Once your orthodontic treatment is completed, it is extremely important to wear a retainer as directed. That’s because teeth naturally tend to drift back to their original positions in your mouth. This is the last thing you want after you’ve gone to the time and trouble of straightening them! Wearing a retainer holds your teeth in their new position long enough for new bone and ligaments to re-form around them, and helps keep your gorgeous new smile looking amazing for the rest of your life!