Orthodontics has come a long way.
A variety of orthodontic “appliances” are available today, thanks to on-going research in orthodontics. Options include traditional metal braces, tooth-colored braces, braces that go behind the teeth, clear aligners and other devices, as appropriate. Check with your orthodontist about the best way to achieve your treatment goals.
Comfortable and efficient, today’s orthodontic appliances also contribute to a stable, long-lasting
They each have their uses, but only an orthodontist has the specialized knowledge to identify and plan for all the variables in your mouth. Orthodontists take your unique needs and wishes into consideration, too, when recommending the right treatment option for you. Orthodontists have knowledge of the full range of orthodontic appliance “tools.” They know what to use and when to use it because they work with these tools every day.
Here are a few of appliances commonly used.
BRACES are a combination of:
BANDS: are metal rings that wrap around the back teeth and are cemented in place.
BRACKETS: attach to the front of each tooth. They are the “handles” that help control movement of the teeth. These may be either silver (metal) or clear (ceramic).
ARCH WIRE: connects the brackets and the bands. It’s actually the wires that move teeth. They provide the gentle forces that steer the teeth in the correct direction.
O-RINGS/ MODULES/ METAL TIES: attach the wire to the bracket. These may be either clear (or another invisible colour) or any bright colour.
The interaction of all these elements enables the Orthodontist to have three-dimensional control over the movement of the teeth. In many cases, additional forces are needed to help balance the underlying jaw structure and to help the upper and lower teeth fit properly together. Examples of these extra forces include: elastics (rubber bands) or springs hooked to teeth.
When the active period with braces is complete and the teeth are in the best possible position, the braces are removed.
The next step is called RETENTION.
This is an important part of the overall treatment and must not be ignored or neglected.
RETAINERS: are utilized to hold your teeth in their new positions until your bone, gums, and muscles adapt to the new teeth positions.
These must be worn as instructed, otherwise the teeth may move back towards their original position and the benefit of wearing the braces will be lost. Some people may need retainers for an extended period of time others may need a permanent retainer.
The orthodontist will determine:
- The type of retainer most suited to the individual.
- How much the retainer must be worn.
These are braces placed behind your teeth so no one will ever know that you are wearing them.
Aligners are generally made of a clear plastic or acrylic material, and are custom-shaped to your teeth. A series of aligners is necessary to reach treatment goals. Each aligner is worn for a few weeks. They progressively move teeth toward their desired positions. Aligners must be removed to eat, and to brush and floss. Because they are removable, patients must be sure to follow their orthodontist’s instructions on daily wear.
While the appliances used in orthodontic treatment have come a long way since orthodontics became dentistry’s first specialty in 1900, what endures is orthodontists’ desire to help you achieve your healthiest bite possible.