There are so many confusing options out there to have straighter teeth that we thought we would write the definitive guide to the different ways that orthodontic systems work so that you can make an educated decision about which one may be best suited to you.
Each orthodontic system has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, we discuss this here.
The function of a tooth vs. the cosmetics of a tooth
The discussions between function and cosmetics, Or the way things look are prevalent in many things in life and we see the same when considering orthodontic options. The primary reason for the general public wanting to have straighter teeth is cosmetic, this may also be your orthodontist’s primary reason but they will also be balancing out the function of the way your teeth bite together.
The function of your teeth is extremely important to ensure balance within your body. The muscles of your head, face, neck and jaw are linked to the muscles around The upper part of your body. Malocclusion or a lack of good function with your teeth can cause headaches so it’s good to ensure that your teeth function well as well as look great.
Orthodontics classically fall into 4 categories:
- Conventional fixed orthodontic braces.
- Rapid/Fast orthodontics.
- Invisible/Almost Invisible orthodontics.
- Orthopaedic orthodontics.
We will now consider each of these.
Conventional fixed orthodontic braces
These are often known as metal or train track braces, they have many advantages and disadvantages, some of which are listed below:
- They have been around for many years and have a proven history.
- It’s possible for your orthodontist to undertake complex cases of functional and cosmetic realignment.
- They give your orthodontist extreme flexibility in the way they treat your smile meaning you often get an excellent result.
An experienced orthodontist will be able to utilise fixed braces to move all of your teeth into the new cosmetic and functional relationship giving you the best possible result. This makes them extremely popular with orthodontists but they often remain less popular with patients due to their perceived unsightly appearance.
In more recent years tooth coloured cosmetic orthodontic brackets and wires have been invented. These have proved to be extremely popular in adult orthodontics.
Generally speaking most orthodontists are able to substitute the metal braces for tooth coloured ones but there are a few clinical situations where this is not suitable, only a detailed consultation with your orthodontist will let you know whether your particular case can be suitable for this newer type of orthodontic brace.
There isn’t much branding around orthodontics when conventional metal braces are considered however a few of the brands which are available for tooth coloured Orthodontics are*:
With the modern penchant for wanting things fast the orthodontic companies have responded by developing systems which can move teeth quicker than ever before. One of the ways of doing this has been to focus primarily on the cosmetic orthodontics rather than the functional orthodontics.
Functional orthodontics often involves moving back teeth which have larger root systems, these take longer to move meaning that if we focus on the front teeth only, with their smaller routes we are able to move faster.
This means that the rapid/faster orthodontics usually only work on the front 6 teeth on the top and bottom, known as the ” athletic zone”
Rapid orthodontics include treatments such as:
You may notice that some of the treatments listed above also come under the tooth coloured orthodontics category, making them extremely versatile.
The Inman aligner is a removable orthodontic brace which utilises a revolutionary new spring system which polls and pushes your teeth at the same time.
This double action spring enables rapid movement of teeth, typically achieving results in 12-16 weeks, much faster than any other orthodontic system.
The Inman aligner is removable orthodontic appliance which means that you can take it out to eat and to clean. You need to ensure that you wear your Inman aligner at least 20 hours per day.
Invisible/Hidden/Almost Invisible Orthodontics
As many people are looking to improve their smile with Orthodontic braces many people would rather not go through the so called “Ugly Betty” stage having fixed metal orthodontic brackets.
Invisible/Hidden/Almost Invisible Orthodontics have therefore been developed to offer a reliable alternative to people wanting to have straighter teeth with nobody else knowing that they are wearing braces.
There are classically three ways of having invisible orthodontics.
- Clear plastic aligners.
- Tooth coloured or clear brackets and tooth coloured arch wires.
- Lingual orthodontics (brackets applied to the inside of your teeth.)
These clear orthodontic aligners work by placing a small amount of pressure onto your teeth to move them in the desired direction.
Once you’re tooth is moved a tiny amount you replace the aligner with a new one, this process is repeated once every two weeks for approximately 18 months to 2 years.
The Invisalign system works by taking a dental impression of your teeth which is then sent to the Invisalign centre where it is digitally scanned.
Once your teeth being digitally scanned a skilled technician move the teeth digitally into their new position.
This finalised, post treatment smile is then sent back to your dentist for review. You will then visit the dental practice to see this post treatment smile and approve it before going ahead. You will also be able to see an animation of your teeth by way of a digital simulation (Known as a Clincheck ™) which is an amazing innovation in digital dentistry.
Tooth coloured/clear brackets and wires
We’ve already discussed these in the fixed orthodontics section above, so we won’t go into any more detail here.
These are orthodontic brackets which are placed on the tongue side of your teeth, known as the lingual. Probably the most famous system is known as Incognito©
lingual orthodontics can often be very tricky as they need to be exceptionally thin, custom-made for you and not interfere with the function of the way your teeth bite together. Not everyone is suitable for this type of orthodontic treatment for this reason.
As you can see, it’s possible to have a full mouth of orthodontic brackets with no one else knowing that you’re having treatment. This makes lingual orthodontics particularly appealing to adults who don’t want anyone else to know they are having braces.
This is the final section in our brief runthrough of the various orthodontic systems and treatments available and is primarily concerned with treating jaw and to position problems during the growing stages of life. Orthopaedic orthodontics are generally provided by specialist orthodontists. An orthodontist is a dentist that has undergone postgraduate training and is registered with the General Dental Council as a specialist.
Sometimes the jaws do not develop properly in young children; the upper jaw is sometimes too small or the lower jaw may be too far back or forward, all of which can result in:
- Functional problems with the bite
- The adult teeth not having enough room to grow in straight
- Compromised aesthetics of the face and teeth
Further information about managing the teeth relationship in developing children can be found here.
There are two primary orthopaedic treatment options.
If treated early enough, the upper jaw can be expanded with a simple appliance over the course of a few months, correcting bite problems and giving more space for all the adult teeth to develop properly.
Orthopaedic appliances can be used to bring the lower or upper jaw forward, putting the jaws in harmony with each other and the rest of the face. This is most effective at around the age of 8 – 9 years old although later treatment may also be successful.
Mandibular (Lower Jaw) orthopaedics is carried out for the correction of a lower jaw which is too small resulting in the top teeth seeming like they stick out.
For choice this type of treatment is carried out around 9-11 years of age, although older patients can also benefit if facial growth is still taking place. Patients of this age are generally much more amenable to treatment with removable appliances and tend to spend more time with parents than older children.
This results in more conscientious use of the appliances, essential for effective progress. Younger children around 9 years of age are also growing proportionately at the same rate as they would do later on during their adolescent growth spurt. These two factors generally combine to allow for rapid progress to be made.
Summary of orthodontic options
As you can see there are a wide range of orthodontic options depending upon your overall objectives, age, speed which you want the treatment to take place and whether you are happy for other people to see your orthodontic appliance or not.
At our dental practice in Derby, we offer fixed orthodontics with Six Month Smiles and Invisalign as we believe this gives us the best combination of fixed, rapid and almost imperceptible orthodontics.
We have also created a free guide which will answer the most common questions everyone has about these treatments, our guide is free and available for immediate download.
“What you absolutely need to know about orthodontics before starting treatment”
In order to help you find out more about orthodontics and teeth straightening we have created a comprehensive downloadable PDF guide. The document is free and available for immediate download.
|Find out about:
We do hope you have found out orthodontic blog post to be useful and interesting, please feel free to share and comment.