When most people think of braces, they imagine a teenager wearing the characteristic "metal tracks" that defined a generation of orthodontics. Times have changed. A surge of interest in cosmetic dentistry has motivated millions of adults to investigate their options. In response, the professional dental community has developed new techniques and attractive alternatives to the unsightly metal tracks.
Braces are an effective strategy for eliminating gaps, crookedness, misaligned bites, and crowding. And there are more options today than ever before. In this article, you'll discover the different types available as well as how they straighten your teeth and correct other problems. We'll also clarify a few common concerns that adults have prior to receiving the treatment.
Know Your Options
The most recognizable option is the aforementioned metal brackets. Your cosmetic dentist will attach them directly to the surface of your teeth using a wire to connect the individual brackets. Some adults only need to wear them for 9 or 10 months while others may need them for nearly 3 years. Ultimately, the severity of the dental problem and the progress your teeth are making will determine the length of the time you'll need to wear the braces.
Ceramic and tooth-colored alternatives were designed to provide aesthetic appeal by eliminating the traditional - and distracting - metal. They offer more comfort than their metal counterparts offer and initially blend in with your teeth.
Invisalign uses clear trays that are nearly invisible unless someone looks closely. This type of orthodontic treatment is normally more expensive than other options and is rarely used when a patient is experiencing severe dental issues. However, they are an attractive alternative because they preclude food getting stuck in conventional brackets or between the teeth.
How They Work
Braces can fix alignment problems, eliminate gaps, and correct other issues by applying constant pressure. When traditional orthodontics are applied, a dentist will use a special bonding cement to attach brackets to each tooth. An arch wire is threaded through the brackets. Periodically, the dentist will tighten the arch wire, which exerts increased pressure. As each tooth moves, the socket in which it rests slowly changes to absorb the pressure and support the tooth's new position. Over time, the underlying bone structure conforms to the pressure and provides the patient with an attractive, properly aligned smile.
Many adults who are considering orthodontic treatment are understandably concerned about the procedure. For example, they have questions regarding the amount of discomfort they'll experience, how long they'll need to wear the braces, and the associated cost of the treatment.
There will likely be mild discomfort each time a dentist tightens the arch wire due to the increased pressure that results. And while some patients will only need them for a year or less, the length of time varies based upon several factors. For adults, the health of their teeth and gums play a key role. If gum disease is present, a dentist will need to treat it before moving forward. The cost of orthodontic treatment can range from under $2,000 to over $7,000 depending upon the type of braces you choose and the area in which you live.
Finding A Qualified Orthodontist
Every dentist receives training that allows him to provide a level of orthodontic treatment. However, a lot of dental problems require the specialization of an experienced orthodontist. In many cases, your dentist may refer you to a qualified specialist who can correct severe problems and offer solutions such as Invisalign. If you're considering braces to improve your smile, make an appointment with your dentist. He'll review the dental issues you wish to correct, address your concerns, and refer you to a qualified orthodontist, if necessary.
Christine O'Kelly is a writer for Smile In The City, a New York City dentist who offers smile makeovers, dental implants, root canals, and other procedures. This experienced New York cosmetic dentist can also ensure your comfort by providing I.V. sedation.