Orthodontic Treatment Options

Over hundreds of years, dental specialists and doctors (back before dentists even existed!) were looking for ways to improve a patient’s oral health by straightening and adjusting their smile.  You wouldn’t believe the contraptions people invented and used.  For example, in Egypt, there was a time when a dentist would drill a hole in a patient’s tooth just to fit a wire in it.  Thank goodness, we do not have to deal with any of that!  In fact, most patients prefer to use clear aligners for their orthodontic treatment and our practice is 100% devoted to doing so!  However, just because we choose to solely treat our patients with the Clear Aligner Technique, that doesn’t mean that our clinically trained orthodontists do not understand the full spectrum of treatment options available.  When you come on board with Go Clear Orthodontics, you can rest assured that our orthodontists will make the best decision for you, even if it means making an outside referral for your care.

Aligners are clear, thin, plastic-like trays that are formed to fit an individual’s teeth. Patients are responsible for putting in and removing their aligners. A series of aligners is created to move teeth. Each aligner is worn for 2-3 weeks, and moves teeth a fraction of a millimeter at a time. Patients must remove aligners for meals and when brushing/flossing. The number of aligners needed to correct misaligned teeth varies based on the individual’s orthodontic problem and its correction.(1)

Traditional Braces
Traditional braces are comprised of brackets that are affixed to teeth and wires that are threaded through slots in the brackets. Some patients may also have metal bands encircling back teeth. Wires are held to brackets by tiny rubber bands called “ligatures” or “o-rings.” Brackets are generally made of stainless steel. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

Traditional Ceramic Braces
Traditional ceramic braces are tooth-colored, making them next-to-invisible. They are affixed to teeth, and wires are threaded through slots in the brackets. Wires are held to brackets by tiny rubber bands called “ligatures” or “o-rings.” Brackets are made of ceramic or porcelain materials. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

Self-Ligating Ceramic Braces
Self-ligating ceramic braces are tooth-colored, making them next-to-invisible. They are affixed to teeth, and wires are threaded through slots in the brackets. Built-in clips hold the wires to the brackets. Brackets are made of ceramic or porcelain materials. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

Self-Ligating Metal Braces
Self-ligating metal braces are comprised of brackets that are affixed to teeth and wires that are threaded through slots in the brackets. Some patients may also have metal bands encircling back teeth. Built-in clips hold the wires to the brackets. Metal brackets are generally made of stainless steel. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth. (2)

Archwires
Archwires fit into the slots in brackets and actually move the teeth.

Round Archwires
When viewed in cross-section, the shape of the wire is round. Round archwires are often used in earlier stages of orthodontic treatment to level and align teeth. Archwires fit into the slots in brackets and actually move the teeth.

Rectangular Archwires
When viewed in cross-section, the shape of a rectangular archwire is rectangular – square on both ends with a long segment in between. Rectangular archwires are often used in later stages of orthodontic treatment to control and refine tooth movement. Archwires fit into the slots in brackets and actually move the teeth. (3)

Removable retainers are clear, thin, slightly flexible, and made of a plastic-like material. They fit the exact shape and placement of the teeth.

Not only are there removable retainers, but there are also fixed retainers. Both types of retainers hold teeth in their new positions after “active” orthodontic treatment is completed. This allows newly formed bone to harden around the teeth. Wearing retainers as instructed is the key to maintaining the success of orthodontic treatment. Patients may be advised to wear retainers full-time for the first six months after “active” treatment ends, with subsequent wear time reduced to night-time only. When not in the mouth, removable retainers should be kept in the case provided by the orthodontist. (4)

Elastics are tiny rubber bands that apply extra force to a tooth or teeth in ways that braces alone cannot, so that teeth move into their ideal positions. Tiny hooks on selected upper and lower clear aligner attachments or brackets as used as attachment points.  The configuration of the elastics can be vertical or diagonal, depending on the individual’s need.  Patients are responsible for placing and removing their elastics.  Elastics should be worn as prescribed by the orthodontist. Do not wear more elastics than prescribed. Doing so places excessive force on the teeth and can be harmful. (5)

A mouth guard is used by athletes of all ages to protect teeth from trauma during competitive and individual sporting activities. They are made of a variety of materials, some relatively flexible and others relatively rigid. Custom-made mouth guards deliver the greatest protection. Over-the-counter mouth guards are available in “boil and bite” versions, which are formed to the individual’s mouth, and “ready to wear” versions, which cannot be customized and offer the least protection. The American Association of Orthodontists advocates the use of mouth guards by children and adults during organized and recreational sporting activities. (6)

(1-6) Information as provided by the AAO https://www.aaoinfo.org/orthodontic-treatment-options/.