Traditional metal and wire braces are still one of the most common form of orthodontics, but the field has expanded to include invisible braces and aligners. Orthodontic treatment is any treatment used to alter the position of the teeth to improve a patient’s bite, functionality, and esthetics. While some may think of orthodontic treatment as cosmetic dentistry, aligning teeth into the proper position can actually have a profound effect on the overall health of a mouth and teeth.
Conventional braces are attached directly to teeth via brackets connected with a metal wire. By tightening the wire and using bands when necessary, the teeth are gradually shifted into a more ideal position. The braces do not come off during treatment, though they are typically cleaned and adjusted monthly. For children wearing braces, they also have the option to experiment with different colored bands on the brackets, making visits to the orthodontic clinic a bit more fun. How long the braces are worn depends on the severity of the malocclusion, the average tends to be two years of treatment.
Invisalign allows patients to forego the brackets and wires, shifting teeth in a more esthetic and subdued manner. The patient will instead wear a series of clear, removable trays that fit snugly over teeth. They are usually worn at least twenty-two hours a day — taken out only to eat and when brushing teeth. After two weeks , the patient will receive a new set of Invisalign trays, continuing the restructuring of the teeth positioning. It is vital that the trays are worn consistently, as a patient cannot move to the next tray until the teeth have adequately shifted. Mild realignments are most suited to Invisalign, such as spacing issues, but severe underbites and overbites may require conventional braces. Treatment with Invisalign typically lasts between six and eighteen months.
After orthodontic treatments, patients are usually given a retainer to be worn for a determined amount of time to ensure teeth do not revert back to their former positions. Fixed retainers, which are cemented to the back of the upper and/or lower front teeth, are also often used, to ensure that the teeth cannot relapse.