Did you know that more than half of New Zealanders are likely to feel self-conscious about some aspect of their smile? According to a 2005 study, a random sample of 12- to 13-year-old youth revealed that nearly 62 per cent of the students ‘needed orthodontic treatment’ — teeth straightening.
Since the leading causes of misaligned teeth don’t change over time, that number is likely to be true today. So, if you’re someone who worries about how your teeth look, you’re definitely not alone.
Teeth misalignment can affect more than your looks, though. Crooked teeth can cause a broad range of other dental issues, such as gum disease, tooth decay, uneven wear, and gum injuries. The good news is that, with a little help from your dentist, you can find a teeth-straightening option that works for your situation.
There are two main teeth-straightening options for you and your dentist to consider: braces and teeth aligners. Let’s take a closer look at both options to see which choice is the best one for you.
Braces work best for people with severe malalignment issues, such as teeth that are severely rotated. Children and others who might be tempted to forget to wear removable devices, too, can benefit from braces since they’re not removable.
Usually made from metal brackets and wires, braces force your teeth into the proper position over time. Your dentist will fasten the brackets to each of your teeth with a bonding compound.
After the brackets have successfully bonded to your teeth, your dentist will connect an archwire to the appliance. Elastics attach the archwire to the metal brackets. After everything is in place, your dentist will adjust the archwire from time to time as your teeth move into their ideal position.
The length of treatment depends on how severe your misalignment is. After treatment, your dentist will remove the braces, but you’ll have to wear a retainer — an appliance similar to teeth whitening trays, only custom-made — for a while until your teeth settle in place.
Even though there are ceramic alternatives to traditional braces, they are somewhat unsightly and uncomfortable to wear. You’ll also need to take extra care to maintain a strict oral hygiene regimen, since the areas where the oral appliance and your teeth meet are hard to reach with a toothbrush and dental floss.
Aligners have created a revolution in treating teeth misalignment. For most people, especially adults and older teens, they are the best option.
Aligners are clear thermoplastic trays that allow your natural teeth to show through. Like braces, they work over time to gently guide your teeth to their optimum position. Just as with braces, you will need to use retainer trays after treatment to ensure that your teeth do not move back into a misaligned position.
Starting from an impression of your teeth, your dentist will use computer-aided design to create a series of trays that progress from their current condition to the end of treatment. If you have a gap in your teeth, the dentist can fill the gap to appear like a natural tooth while you’re wearing the aligners. If your alignment doesn’t correct the gap, the dentist will give you a bridge once your treatment is complete.
These invisible aligner trays’ greatest advantage over traditional braces? They’re removable. This feature makes them overall a better choice for the great majority of patients since they allow your toothbrush and floss to reach the entire surface of your teeth and gums.
You can also eat with no worries about getting food particles stuck in the metal or ceramic parts that make braces so difficult to clean. However, that advantage can soon turn into a disadvantage if you or your kids forget to put them back in after you’ve finished eating, drinking, and brushing afterwards.
Whatever treatment you choose, you can be sure that after you’re done with aligners or braces, you’ll not only look better, but you’ll likely feel better as well. To learn what type of teeth straightening is best for your situation, book an appointment with our team of experienced dentists soon.