While regular metal braces with an arch wire and elastics are still the most common, some people opt for a different approach.
One option is lingual or “hidden” braces which are fixed to the inside of the teeth.
They still use brackets and wires, but those brackets and wires cannot generally be seen by others.
Rather than having brackets bonded to the teeth and wires attached with elastic, lingual braces have brackets built for each tooth.
The brackets are fixed to each tooth with cement and then the arch wire is threaded through the brackets.
Pros of Lingual Braces
They look better than regular braces
They work as effectively as regular braces
Food caught in them is not usually visible to others
May be more stable than other options
Cons of Lingual Braces
They can take longer to get used to
The way you talk may be affected, especially at first
Caring for them is more difficult
Cleaning takes longer
They can be more expensive as they have to be custom made and installation is more complex
Dental retainers are devices used to keep teeth in the desired position after braces are removed.
After braces are removed, it still takes some time for teeth to settle into the jawbone and the soft tissue.
Without appropriate action, they might drift back in to the original position.
Retainers can be fixed or removable.
Removable retainers can be taken off to eat or brush your teeth. You wear them all the time for about a year and then wear them only at night for a further period.
Fixed retainers are permanently glued to your teeth and can only be removed by your dentist.
The most common type is Hawley Retainers, which have a plastic base following the shape of your mouth.
This is connected to a wire that wraps around your teeth, keeping them in place.
Essix Retainers are made of clear plastic and some patients prefer them as they cannot be seen but they don’t last as long as Hawley retainers.
As well as keeping your teeth in position after wearing braces, retainers can also be used to correct other minor orthodontic problems that don’t require a full set of dental braces.
For example, they may be used to move just one tooth or correct a slight malocclusion.
Here are definitions of some of the most common orthodontic terms.
Impressions: A mold of your teeth which is used to make a model of them
Panoramic x-ray: An x-ray made by a machine that rotates around your head to give a full picture of your teeth and jaws
Closed bite: Where the upper teeth cover the lower teeth on biting down
Crossbite: Where some upper teeth are inside the lower teeth on biting down
Crowding: Too many teeth in too small a space
Fixed Appliance: Cemented or bonded to the teeth
Lingual Appliances: Fixed to the inside of the teeth
Malocclusion: Poor positioning of your teeth
Class I: Bite is fine as top teeth line up with bottom teeth but teeth are crooked or crowded
Class II: Upper teeth stick out past lower teeth (also called an “overbite”)
Class III: Lower teeth stick out past upper teeth (also called an “underbite”)
Occlusion: The alignment and spacing of upper and lower teeth on biting down
Open Bite: Teeth do not close or come together in the front of your mouth
Proper Occlusion: All teeth are straight and top teeth line up with bottom teeth
Wax Bite: Bitemark left on wax to measure how well teeth are aligned
Here are definitions of some of the key terms used for the different elements of braces.
Appliance: Something attached to teeth to move them or change the shape of the jaw
Arch Wire: Metal wire which is attached to brackets to move teeth
Band: Metal ring placed on teeth to hold on parts of braces
Bracket: Device glued on to teeth to fasten the arch wire
Orthodontic Chain: Used to hold archwires into brackets and to move teeth
Ligating Module: Small plastic donut-shaped device to hold the arch wires in the brackets
Lingual Appliances: Orthodontic devices fixed to inside of teeth
Mouthguard: Protects your mouth from injury during sports and other activities to limit injuries
Retainer: Device usually worn for some time after braces removed to hold teeth in position
Wax: Helps stop braces from irritating your lips especially in early stages
Orthodontics is a special branch of dentistry that focuses on the treatment of teeth and jaws that are misaligned.
The word comes from the Greek words orthos meaning straight or proper, and odont meaning tooth.
It is concerned with the treatment of malocclusions or improper bites. These may arise from tooth irregularity, problems with the jaw or both.
You may seek orthodontic treatment for cosmetic reasons or for health reasons.
Cosmetic reasons are usually due to feeling low self esteem due to the appearance of your mouth or smile.
However more serious heath problems can include difficulties chewing, which can lead to digestion problems.
Issues with the alignment of your teeth and jaws can also cause sleep and breathing problems such as snoring or sleep apnea.
In addition, some orthodontists work on reconstructing the entire face rather than focusing exclusively on teeth.
Orthodontic treatment will depend on the diagnosis of the orthodontist after taking x-rays and molds.
The treatment may include braces or other devices to realign teeth. In sever cases, surgery may be needed.
Some estimates say that more than half the US population has problems with misaligned teeth or jaws so orthodontics plays an important role.
Dental braces are orthodontic devices which help realign the position of your teeth.
They may be used if you have bite problems (also called malocclusions), crooked teeth, gaps or other problems with your teeth.
Although they are mainly used on children and teenagers – as treatment is easier when you are still growing – adults can also benefit from braces.
Braces are made up of three basic parts:
– Bonding (or band)
– Arch wire
The way braces work is that the teeth are moved through the use of force – the wires in the braces push the tooth in the desired direction.
When this happens, there is a biological response which leads to bone remodeling. Bone is created on one side and resorbed on the other side.
A tooth will usually move about a millimeter per month during orthodontic treatment but there are big variations depending on the individual and the exact treatment.
Invisalign braces have become popular as an alternative to traditional braces as they are cosmetically more appealing.
They are known as “invisible braces” but they actually work in a very different way to the traditional approach.
Rather than using brackets and wires, Invisalign uses aligners to move your teeth into new positions.
These aligners are clear and removable.
In order to use the Invisalign approach, you will have X-rays and molds taken which are then used to help an orthodontist plan your treatment.
The Invisalign aligners are built specifically for your mouth and each aligner is meant to be worn for two weeks. You then move on to the next aligner and the whole process can take about one year.
Virtually invisible so only you know you are wearing them
Easier to clean than traditional braces
More comfortable than traditional braces so less risk of irritation
Removable so can be taken out for eating or just for a break
Can be more expensive than traditional braces
Won’t work for everybody
Must follow instructions exactly
Teeth are still being moved so some chance of pain