Braces definition: a device fitted to something, in particular a weak or injured part of the body, to give support. In the case of dental braces this refers to the teeth.
Retainers definition: an appliance that holds something in place. In the case of retainers for teeth, they help to maintain the final position of the teeth that have been corrected by braces.
Orthodontics definition: a special discipline of dentistry concerned with aligning the teeth and jaws to:
a - improve one’s smile and oral health.
b – correct problems like crooked or crowded teeth, overbite or underbite, and incorrect jaw position.
As children grow so their body changes. This goes for their jaw, too! But these changes are not always so easily identifiable. The good news is that any changes that occur can be noted during their routine six-month visit to the dentist.
The best time for braces is between the ages of eight and fourteen-years-old. This is when most children experience growth spurts, and corrections can be done more easily at this time.
The problem with waiting longer than this is that correction becomes more complicated the older a child gets, and the longer the period of treatment tends to be.
In most cases children will be required to wear braces for a period of eighteen to thirty months. Once the treatment is completed, the child is given a retainer to wear. The retainer serves to maintain the new position of the teeth straightened by braces.
Are Traditional Braces Always The Only Option?
No - not always! In some cases teeth straightening and positioning can be solved with an appliance commonly referred to as ‘Invisalign’.
An Invisalign is a ‘clear’ aligner (seen in the image above) that has shown to be effective in cases of mild to moderately overcrowded teeth, as well as teeth with undesired spacing between them.
The process is quite simple, requiring a mold of the patient's teeth. This is where technology becomes interesting, as this mold is then used to create a digital tooth scan.
A computerized model is then created which shows possible stages between ‘present’ and then ‘desired’ teeth positions. With this information, the patient is provided with sets of Invisalign aligners for each stage of the correction process, which will eventually lead to the desired teeth positioning.
These aligners are not ‘fixed’, and need to be worn for roughly twenty hours a day. When it’s time to eat or clean your teeth, they’re easy to remove. The treatment itself, making use of different sets of aligners for different stages, can take up to fourteen months.
Pretty cool what technology can do these days! If you have any questions about braces, retainers or Invisalign, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re here to help!