Orthodontics is the science of straightening natural teeth. Crooked teeth are typically seen as a cosmetic issue, but they can lead to dental issues and poor oral hygiene as crooked teeth are harder to brush or floss.
Types of Braces
- Conventional braces – Metal brackets are bonded onto teeth. A series of custom-made wire arches gradually align the teeth into their new positions.
- Ceramic braces – Tooth-colored braces which blend better when bonded onto teeth and look less obvious than conventional braces.
- Self-ligating braces (Fast braces) – Specially designed metal brackets with a clip instead of adopting the usual rubber modules. The friction-free factor of these braces enables faster movement of teeth while minimizing pain and discomfort.
- Invisible braces (Invisalign™) – Digitally-designed invisible aligners that straighten your teeth. Straighten your teeth without anyone knowing! With removable aligners, cleaning of teeth is a breeze compared to fixed braces.
- Conventional Braces
- Ceramic Braces
- Self-ligating Braces
- Invisible Braces
Treatment planning is critical when deciding on braces, as each type of braces has its advantages as well as limitations. Our orthodontist (braces specialist) will assess your dental condition and advise you on the range of options available to you, including the types of braces that will give you optimal results. A detailed assessment includes a full-mouth x-ray.
The following will be discussed in a braces consultation visit:
- Your concerns
- Diagnosis and discussion of dental problems
- Length of the proposed treatment
- Other dental work needed before or after braces treatment
- Risks and limitations
- Results and outcome
- Cost of treatment
- Possible treatment alternatives
With the exception of invisible braces, most types of braces are fixed. This means that once our orthodontist has bonded the brackets onto your teeth and applied the wires, you cannot remove the braces on your own. You will be visiting the orthodontist every few weeks for adjustment of your braces till the end of treatment, which can vary between 7 months to 3 years (average 1.5 years ) depending on the type of braces you choose and the complexity of the work required. You may experience some discomfort lasting a few days each time the braces are adjusted. This is because the braces are applying small but sustained forces to your teeth to move them into their new positions. You will do well to persevere as the discomfort will wear off after a few days!
Treatment with Invisalign™ requires much self-discipline! You will be seeing the orthodontist every 4-8 weeks for reviews. At each visit, you will be issued one or more sets of aligners. Aligners are tight-fitting custom-made mouthpieces that fit over your teeth and help shift them into their new positions. Like patients using conventional braces, you must expect some discomfort each time you start wearing a new set of aligners. Moving those teeth into new positions requires the application of some sustained forces. Temporary discomfort each time you start wearing a new set of aligners is inevitable and a necessary part of the beautifying process! You must commit to wearing those aligners 20 to 22 hours a day, removing them only during mealtimes and for cleaning purposes. You have to wear your aligners to bed every night for the duration of Invisalign™ treatment. This duration varies widely depending on the treatment plan and your compliance with it! For the average Invisalign™ patient, treatment duration is for 1.5 years.
Post Treatment Maintenance
The completion and removable of fixed braces marks the next important phase of orthodontic treatment. Teeth are now straightened and retainers ensure that they stay in their newly aligned position. Usually, removable clear plastic retainers are used but there are also fixed retainers available depending on each patient’s relapse risk. Wearing retainers as instructed is the most critical piece of advice to ensure straight teeth after braces. Invisalign™ patients who have completed their treatment will likewise need to wear retainers to maintain their new smile.