How do I know which orthodontic treatment is best for me? | Smile Solutions
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How do I know which orthodontic treatment is best for me?


Comparing orthodontic treatments

There are very few people who are lucky enough to avoid ever requiring orthodontic treatment. The difficult part is knowing or deciding which type of orthodontics is best for you and who to see to perform that treatment. The good news is, its never too late to straighten your teeth as long as they are in good health.

Many of today’s adults didn’t have the opportunity to have braces when they were younger. And now they can afford to make their own decision, some wonder about braces being able to move their teeth or being the right look at their age.

In many cases adults are the ideal patients. Since they have made their own decision to start treatment (unlike teenagers, whose parents decide) they are more likely to look after their orthodontic appliances, and this often helps the orthodontist to achieve their goals.

Nowadays, with changing technologies and new innovations, there are several types of orthodontic appliance on offer.

Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are still around, but they now come in both metal and ceramic (clear) versions. Metal braces are made from a high-grade stainless steel and are now smaller in profile than previously. The brackets are bonded to the teeth surfaces with cement, which holds them firmly in place. The brackets are linked using a thin arch wire. This applies pressure to the teeth in order to move them into the desired position. Ceramic braces work in the exact same way as traditional metal braces but the brackets are made from a clear ceramic material which is less visible. These braces are a popular choice among people who are concerned about the aesthetics of traditional braces. The only downside to these braces is that the clear “module” or elastic that holds the wire in place can become discoloured when certain foods are eaten.

Lingual Braces

Palatal/Lingual braces are similar to traditional metal braces but they are cemented to the inside surfaces of your teeth, making them not visible at all. These braces are specifically custom made for your teeth and come with a custom-made series of wires. Your speech may be slightly affected by these braces, being on the tongue side of your teeth.

Invisalign

Invisalign is a relatively new type of orthodontic treatment that has been designed to perform similarly to braces and achieve similar, if not the same, results. This treatment involves a series of custom-made clear trays, which are worn 20+ hours a day and removed for eating, drinking and cleaning. Each time you change your aligner/tray (on average every 2 weeks), your teeth are moved slightly more by the slow pressure being applied. Invisalign is very popular among adults and is also available for teenagers.

How long does it take to have orthodontic treatment?

The length of orthodontic treatment will vary from patient to patient. While some cases take less time to treat than others, the average treatment time is 18 to 24 months. Mild issues can be treated successfully in as little as six months, while more complex issues (in particular those involving jaw surgery) can take three years or more.

The length for your orthodontic treatment also depends on patient compliance – following your orthodontist’s instructions and attending all scheduled appointments will ensure that your case can be finished in the shortest time-frame possible.

Additional benefits of orthodontic treatment

Orthodontic treatment is not only for cosmetic improvements. Straighter teeth make it much easier for you to clean your teeth and maintain good oral health; while crossed teeth can accelerate wear and impede cleaning efforts. There are also times when teeth need to be aligned before restorative or cosmetic dental work can be carried out.

As with almost all medical and dental treatment, orthodontic treatment carries inherent risks, as described below. These can be minimised with cooperation, planning and careful management.

Risks associated with orthodontic treatment

As with almost all medical and dental treatment, orthodontic treatment carries inherent risks, as described below. These can be minimised with cooperation, planning and careful management.

Gum disease and tooth decay

Gum disease and tooth decay are preventable. The responsibility for maintaining healthy teeth remains with you throughout orthodontic treatment.

Tooth decay may extend from a permanent white patch (“decalcification”) to holes in the teeth requiring further treatment by a general dentist.

In order to prevent gum disease, tooth decay and decalcification we recommend the following:

Root-end resorption and tooth vitality

Tooth root shortening (“resorption”) may occur during treatment and is unpredictable in nature. The majority of resorption cases do not have long-term effects; however, in a minority of cases the long-term prognosis of the teeth may be affected. Patients who have previously had orthodontic treatment are at greater risk of resorption during retreatment.

“Tooth vitality” refers to the health of the nerves within our teeth. Orthodontic movement of teeth can further insult the nerve in teeth previously exposed to trauma or deep fillings, leading to potential loss of vitality and discolouration.

Relapse and growth changes

Teeth will continue to move with age, even in patients who have not had orthodontic treatment. Retainers prevent this natural ongoing movement. If you do not wear your retainers as instructed, you can expect your teeth to move.

This ongoing movement is outside our responsibility and may necessitate re-treatment at an additional cost. The re-treatment fee will be determined by the amount of movement involved and how long the braces or removable plates are in place. Your treatment will be proposed by your orthodontist and you will be fully informed of any costs.

Jaw growth which is considered atypical, either in terms of direction or extent, may change the course or length of treatment. Further growth after the conclusion of treatment may alter the final result. Despite every effort by the treatment orthodontist, this growth cannot always be predicted and a recommendation may be made for re-treatment and/or surgery.

Wisdom teeth

Any impacted wisdom teeth that remain after orthodontic treatment may affect the stability of the outcome achieved by your orthodontist. In order to help prevent unwanted movement of your teeth and other problems associated with malpositioned.

Wisdom teeth, we strongly recommend that you discuss this risk with your orthodontist. Where necessary, your orthodontist may refer you to an oral & maxillofacial surgeon to discuss options for management of your wisdom teeth. If you choose not to have an assessment with an oral & maxillofacial surgeon and do not undergo any recommended treatment, your newly aligned teeth may move.

Bone and gum loss

The health of the bone and gums (“peridonal health”) should be assessed by a general dentist or specialist periodontist before orthodontic treatment begins. This is the responsibility of the patient.

Further progression of periodontal disease can occur if the patient does not maintain excellent oral hygiene and remain under the close care of a general dentist or specialist periodontist.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) symptoms

During treatment, patients may develop problems with the jaw, either in terms of pain or function. This can be difficult to predict and may have occurred regardless of orthodontic treatment. Any relationship between orthodontic treatment and temporomandibular dysfunction is tenuous. If any jaw pain does develop patients must advise their treating orthodontist.

In some circumstances changes to the treatment plan may be necessary. Typical scenarios are as follows:

Ankylosis

If teeth are fused to bone (“ankylosed”) and thus unable to be moved, an alternative approach will need to be considered.

Therapeutic extractions

Individuals’ biological response to orthodontic treatment varies. In some cases extraction of teeth may be required partway through the treatment in order to obtain the best aesthetic and functional outcome. If extraction was not part of the initial treatment plan, the treating orthodontist will discuss these changes with the patient.

Treatment time

Orthodontic treatment time may vary according to the response of the teeth and jaws to treatment, and depending on patient compliance.

Choosing the right orthodontic treatment for you

The decision as to which is the best orthodontic treatment does not need to be made solely on your own. An orthodontist is a trained dental specialist. Their expertise lies in the diagnosis and treatment of dental and facial irregularities to help correctly align teeth, bites and jaws, including straightening teeth. By attending a consultation, you can let them guide you towards which options are suitable for you and your lifestyle.

At Smile Solutions, your specialist orthodontist will take the time to assess your smile in a complimentary consultation and can give you all information relevant to your orthodontic treatment, such as different options, costs, and an estimate of how long the treatment will take.

Orthodontics
Dr Martin Poon
Dr Martin Poon

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