The practice of correcting tooth alignment

Orthodontics is the practice of correcting tooth alignment, helping to enhance appropriate tooth growth and usage, in addition to improving one's appearance. Orthodontic treatments include metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, clear aligners, orthodontic plates and retainers. Although many people believe that braces are for teenagers, orthodontic treatments can improve the dental health of individuals of all ages.

Types of orthodontic treatments

Dental braces are not what they used to be. With advances in orthodontic technology, you no longer have to worry about uncomfortable metal braces with highly visible bands around each tooth. A variety of new techniques and equipment have been developed to enhance the patient's experience and shorten treatment times. There are a wide variety of orthodontic treatments available, and the correct treatment depends largely on the individual needs of the patient.

Some treatments, such as orthodontic plates, are best for young children whose teeth and jaws are still growing, while treatments with low visibility, such as Invisalign®, may be ideal for adults. Some of the most common orthodontic treatments include:

Fixed Braces

Fixed or orthodontic braces are made up of high-quality metal or ceramic brackets that are then attached to each tooth. These brackets are then connected by a special type of wire, shaped specifically to your requirements. This is then followed up with a series of adjustments to straighten the teeth over time until the desired outcome has been achieved. More contemporary braces are much more streamlined than traditional braces, and modern technology allows for the brackets discreetly matched to your tooth enamel.

What can be fixed with braces?

Some common issues that dentists may fix with fixed braces include:

  • Crowded teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Underbites, overbites and crossbites
  • Limited breathing
  • Unevenly spaced teeth

The timeline for fixed braces

Fixed braces might only be required for a little as six months, up to 24 months. The length of time required will depend on the complexity of the treatment. In most cases, people will wear fixed braces between 12-18 months.

After your braces have been removed, you may be required to have a permanent retainer fitted onto the inner side of your teeth; and be issued a removable retainer to wear during the night, to make sure your teeth do not move back into their original positions.

Metal Braces

Dental braces come in a variety of designs, including the traditional style with metal brackets and wires. A wide variety of options are available to ensure the highest level of comfort.

Ceramic Braces

Like metal braces, ceramic braces use wires and brackets; however, the brackets are a clear or off-white ceramic to disguise the appearance of the braces.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces use the same metal brackets and wires as metal braces, but on the inner surface of the patient's teeth so that they can't be seen.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are one of the most sought-after types of orthodontic treatment for adults. Most commonly known by the manufacturer's name, such as Invisalign® or ClearCorrect, aligners are created using advanced technology and work by applying targeted pressure to your teeth, which gradually moves them into alignment.

What are the benefits of clear aligner treatment?

Clear aligners have become extremely popular due to their subtle appearance. They are transparent in colour, almost invisible, and custom-made to fit snugly on your teeth. If you're not completely happy with your smile, but you don't want to have metal braces, clear aligners might be the perfect option for you. Straighter teeth don't just look better, they work better as well - badly aligned teeth can interfere with bite function, wear out faster, and are more prone to cavities.

There are many advantages to using clear aligners over traditional methods:

  • They are almost invisible and have a discreet appearance.
  • They're removable, so easy to clean after eating and drinking.
  • They're more comfortable as they are custom-made to fit your mouth.
  • They can usually straighten your teeth in a quicker amount of time.

Orthodontic Plates and Retainers

For young children who have particular problems with tooth or jaw alignment, orthodontic plates can be used to carefully adjust the growth of the jawbone and arrange the teeth. An orthodontic plate, or retainer, consists of plastic or wire that is shaped to fit around the top or bottom teeth to hold them in place or gently guide them into the desired position.

Judicious use of orthodontic plates at a young age can significantly reduce or eliminate the need for braces later in life. Retainers are often used after treatment with braces to ensure that the teeth remain in position.

Who can benefit from orthodontic treatment?

There are a wide variety of conditions that can be improved through the use of orthodontic treatment. Although age is a consideration, it is not the only factor in the orthodontist's choice of treatment. Conditions that may require the use of orthodontic treatments include:

  • Poor alignment of top and bottom molars that complicates or prevents chewing.
  • A cross-bite, in which the upper teeth rest behind the lower teeth.
  • A deep bite or overbite, in which the upper front teeth cover the front of the lower front teeth.
  • An open bite, in which the front teeth do not touch at all when biting.
  • Teeth that are misaligned, angled, crowded, or spaced too far apart.
  • Jaw / joint pain (TMD) and headaches due to clenching and misaligned teeth.
  • Tooth decay, bone loss, and excessive wear on the surface of the teeth due to poor alignment.

To determine the best treatment option for your needs, your dentist will conduct a comprehensive examination and assessment of your dental condition. If your condition can't be treated by a general dentist, you will receive a referral to a specialist.

Braces are the most commonly used orthodontic treatment for the realignment and repositioning of teeth. Not only do braces improve your smile and confidence, but they can also help to cure or mitigate serious issues with jaw alignment and development. Luckily, braces can be used to adjust your tooth alignment at any age. Straight teeth will reduce unwanted wear and stress on your teeth and gums, and further prevent strain and headaches associated with jaw misalignment.

Orthodontic care and maintenance

When you wear braces, aligners, or retainers, it might be necessary to adjust your eating habits to prevent damage to both the hardware and your teeth. We recommend avoiding hard foods and sticky candy that can break or pull your braces from your teeth (gum, toffee, popcorn, nuts, hard biscuits, etc.). You should also avoid biting into foods with your front teeth. Rather, cut foods into manageable pieces that you can chew with your back teeth.

Braces can trap food in your mouth after you eat, so be sure to brush and floss after every meal. Continue to floss and brush your teeth regularly, but be sure to use the special brushes and flossing tools recommended by your orthodontist. Specialised floss brushes and mouthwash are particularly useful for cleaning out braces after a meal. Carry a small cleaning kit with you to school or work, so you have the supplies you need on hand to keep your braces and teeth in ideal condition.

National Dental Care / DB Dental are one of the top providers of quality dental and orthodontic care in Australia. With over 60 practices across Australia, we attract the top dental experts through dedicated collaboration, mentorship, training, and support. To learn more about the best orthodontic services for you, contact us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

The length of time that a patient must wear braces or other orthodontic treatments depends largely on the condition for which they are being treated. On average, braces and Invisalign� treatments take 1-2 years; however, small adjustments may be completed as soon as 6 months from the start of treatment. Once the braces have been removed, patients will often be provided with a permanent or removable retainer, to keep the teeth in the desired position. The initial examination and treatment plan requires several exams, consultations, and fittings, and braces must be adjusted every 6-8 weeks. Final removal of the braces upon completion of treatment takes approximately 60 minutes.
Once your orthodontic treatment is completed and your braces are removed, you will be fitted with a retainer to ensure that your teeth remain in their new alignment. Be sure to wear your retainers as directed, or you may undo all the previous work. Do not wear your retainer while eating, and be sure to brush it before you insert it into your mouth. For patients who do not wish to use a removable retainer, a permanent wire retainer can be cemented to the back of the teeth to keep them in place.

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