By Dr. Satish Pai
Do you often hold yourself back from speaking or smiling confidently because of crooked teeth? Do you have misaligned teeth and frequently complain about tooth sensitivity, pain, decay, or cavities? If your answer to both these questions is yes, it’s time you consider teeth straightening.
Teeth straightening is one of the most widely preferred orthodontic treatments to correct dental problems such as crooked or misaligned teeth, incorrectly spaced or crowded teeth. According to several studies, an astonishing huge percentage of people have said that getting their teeth straightened is one of the most important treatments they have undergone. Findings also report that this one change in their appearance helped boost their confidence tremendously.
This article will help you get a clear picture of everything you would want to know about teeth straightening. This includes the various treatment options available, the benefits, and post-treatment care.
Braces and aligners are used for straightening teeth. Both these options offer some variants to suit the different needs of patients. These variants are described below in detail:
- Traditional or Metal Braces—These are made of metal brackets and wires. The brackets are attached to the teeth, and a wire is weaved through them to pull the teeth back into the desired position. Small elastic bands hold the wire in place. Nowadays, there are color options available for the elastics. These braces need to be adjusted every month or so and are mostly the cheapest way to get straight teeth.
- Ceramic Braces—Their structure is similar to that of metal braces. The only difference is that these comprise clear or tooth-colored brackets. These are a bit expensive as compared to the metal braces. However, more people choose these as they are less noticeable. They do have some cons, such as they get stained easily and move teeth slower than the metal braces.
- Damon Braces—These too, comprise clear brackets and hence are far less noticeable. They bring down the treatment time considerably. However, these braces don’t use elastic ties, which may make dental hygiene and their maintenance a bit more challenging.
- Lingual Braces—These are extremely discreet since the brackets, and the wires are fitted on the inside of your teeth. From crowding to irregular gaps, these too can fix all sorts of teeth alignment problems. They may take anywhere from 6 to 24 months for complete treatment.
- Self-ligating Braces—These too are similar to traditional braces except that they don’t use elastic or metal ties. Instead, they used special brackets or clips which support the archwire in moving the teeth into the desired position. These clips allow more tooth movement, and hence, the level of discomfort is considerably reduced. They also apply less pressure and require a simple adjustment on the clips, which in turn reduces the treatment time. There are two types of brackets in these braces – active and passive. The former uses a thicker archwire while the latter uses a smaller archwire.
- Invisalign Aligners—These are clear plastic trays that can be easily removed before eating or drinking. They should be worn for a minimum of 22 hours per day. They put less pressure on your teeth as compared to braces and require a timeframe of 6 to 12 months.
- ClearCorrect Aligners—These aligners are similar to Invisalign but with few differences. They are cheaper and thinner as compared to Invisalign. The lighter material makes them less visible but less durable also.
Crooked or misaligned teeth can lead to several problems such as difficulty in eating, speech problems, strained muscles, risk of damage to surrounding teeth, poor oral hygiene. Teeth straightening not only improve your confidence with a straight smile, but it also enhances your oral health and reduces the risk of associated overall health issues. It:
- Makes cleaning teeth easier
- Reduces the risk of decay, cavities and gum diseases
- Makes chewing easy
- Reduces the risk of damage to surrounding teeth
- Improves self-esteem
Post your teeth straightening treatment you will mostly need to wear orthodontic retainers. These help keep the teeth in their new corrected position and prevent them from moving back to the old position. You also need to:
- Brush twice with a toothbrush with soft-bristles
- Floss every day
- Avoid sugary, sticky and hard foods
- Avoid fizzy drinks
- Visit your orthodontist regularly to check the position and condition of your teeth
The best time to straighten misaligned teeth is in the teenage years as the jawbone and teeth roots are yet to be fully developed. However, even adults, irrespective of their age, can undergo teeth straightening treatment for a healthy smile.
Creating perfect smiles is what Dr. Satish Pai is committed to. An orthodontist by profession, he believes that a perfect smile is a powerful part of a person’s personality. When he is not working hard on perfecting his patients’ smiles at Putnam Ortho, he is busy writing engaging articles about everything related to healthy and perfect smiles. His other passions include golf, yoga and surfing. Spending time with his family always brings a smile on his face.