Teeth can be stubborn, take it from us. So when they decide to grow in, shall we say, less than perfectly straight, they may need some coaxing to get in line.
If they’re crooked or developing into a misaligned bite (an under-bite or over-bite), they can be uncomfortable and even lead to dental health issues later in life. Luckily, we have two great tools in our arsenal: braces and retainers. Many of us will use one or the other (or both!) in our lifetimes, and few dental techniques are quite as widespread or successful at giving people the smile they want.
While it’s generally a good idea for your child to have their first orthodontic examination between the ages of seven and ten, and get braces or a retainer when the last of their baby teeth fall out, it’s never too late to straighten your teeth. Sometimes it’s only a few teeth that need correcting, so a full retainer or set of braces is unnecessary. And these days there are treatment options to suit every budget and lifestyle. So let’s take a moment to review the facts.
How do braces work? Well, it’s quite simple: they exert pressure on the teeth in one direction or the other.
Over time, the bone shifts with this pressure, aligning the teeth or jaw. Braces usually accomplish this with two basic components:
Brackets — these are fixed to each tooth with a dental bonding agent (think a sturdy, safe and tasteless glue). Sometimes the brackets will be fixed to orthodontic bands that encircle each tooth.
Arch wires — these attach the brackets to one another and do the pulling. Rubber ties fasten each arch wire to the brackets, and springs are occasionally added to the wires to help push or pull each tooth. Additionally, rubber bands sometimes attach to hooks on brackets between the upper and lower teeth, ensuring a perfect fit between each pair.
When braces are first put in, they exert noticeable pressure, and every time you visit, they’ll increase the pressure. Don’t worry, it usually goes away after a couple days, and over-the-counter pain relief will help. If you’re using rubber bands between your upper and lower teeth, you’ll want to regularly replace them at home. The amount of time required to straighten that smile generally takes one to three years. but the results last a lifetime!
This is a relatively new treatment option that is offered at Yonge Eglinton Dental.
Instead of using Braces and Arch Wires, you are given a series of clear plastic trays which are worn sequentially to straighten your teeth.
It is a great alternative to your standard orthodontic treatment; however, not all people are suitable to this treatment option. Talk to your dentist to determine if this treatment is right for you.
When the braces come off, the last thing you want is for your teeth to revert to their crooked old ways. That’s where a retainer comes in to, well, retain your smile.
Retainers are removable or fixed devices usually crafted from stainless steel, clear plastic or a combination of both. Depending on your needs, they can be worn all day or sometimes just overnight.
The most common and recognizable type of retainer is the ‘Hawley retainer,’ made up of a metal or plastic wire that wraps around the front teeth and an acrylic arch that usually sits snugly on the roof of the mouth.
The other major type of retainer is the ‘vacuum’ or ‘Essix’ retainer. This is a clear plastic mould that fits over the entire row. Both of these types are removable, but there are also fixed retainers. In most cases these are bonded to your teeth to prevent them from shifting.
If you have a retainer, it’s critical to develop good habits of use. Clean it regularly with mouthwash or denture cleaner, store it safely and, above all, remember to wear it.
Take the First Steps
Every mouth is different, and there are sure to be orthodontic techniques suited to your unique smile. These days, it’s possible to get braces and retainers that are less noticeable and less uncomfortable than ever before. If you’re considering braces for yourself, or have a child whose baby teeth are almost gone, schedule an appointment. We’d love to take a look, review your options and get you started down the road to a stunningly straight smile.