What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the specialty in Dentistry that includes not only ‘braces’ and ‘straightening of teeth’ but also cranio-facial development and treatment of congenital abnormalities such as cleft lip. Orthodontists can also play a large role in speech therapy and breathing disorders.

Why Get Braces?

Early Treatment Can Prevent Serious Problems Down the Road

Most bite problems are genetic and therefore are not preventable. However, early treatment can eliminate the need for more drastic measures further down the road. In some patients, early treatment can achieve results that are not possible once the face and jaw have finished growing.

Although many people associate orthodontic treatment with adolescence, orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw and tooth growth much earlier, while the primary or baby teeth are still present. Some of the more readily apparent conditions that indicate the need for early examination include:

  • early or late loss of teeth
  • difficulty in chewing or biting
  • mouth breathing
  • thumb sucking
  • crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
  • speech difficulties
  • biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
  • teeth that meet abnormally, or don't meet at all
  • facial imbalance
  • jaws that are too far forward or back

How Do Orthodontics work?

Orthodontists use wires, elastics and brackets, incrementally moving teeth into favorable positions. Orthodontists can also help move the jawbone into alignment.

Many people assume the jawbone is solid like a rock or wood. In fact while kids are growing, their jaws are really more like clay.

At What Age Should You Start Orthodontic Treatment?

One can begin orthodontic treatment at almost any age. Kids as young as four (4) are sometimes advised to start Orthodontics in order to avoid a more severe problem later on. Orthodontic treatment is most common between the ages of 8 and 14. At this age, we can take advantage of natural bone growth to help make changes in a positive direction.

What Happens If You Wait Until Older?

Orthodontics and braces are effective at any age. However, as you get older the treatment may take longer. Your bones grow much faster when you are young so your jaw is easy to stretch. By the time you are 20, you may need surgery to expand your jaw.

A Fixed Stainless (Metal) Braces

This is the most common type of brace today, often knows as “train tracks”. Brackets are glued onto the teeth and linked by wires. Nowadays, some braces move teeth faster and with less discomfort than in the past. Metal Braces are the most popular type of braces due mainly to its rugged functionality and manageable cost. Most patients request colored ties. At each appointment you may have your colors changed. You can look forward to making a fashion statement after each visit. The patients allergic to this kind of material are in good times with many other options available today.

Pros Cons

Metal brackets tend to be the least expensive of all the types of braces.

They are more visible than ceramic and Invisalign (the traditional "metal mouth.")

They tend to take the least amount of time among all the types of braces.

They tend to be a bit less comfortable at first, (but that feeling wears off after a couple of weeks).

You can choose a darker ligature, which will not show curry, smoking, or black coffee stains.

When you have a canker sore, they tend to irritate your gums more than ceramic brackets.

Self-ligating brackets do not contain rubber ligatures, so staining will never be a problem.

They are strong and rarely break.

The golden brackets are different, novel and generally look nice.

Viazis Brackets and self-ligating brackets can complete treatment in a shorter time with less pain; however orthodontists need special training in these

Ceramic Braces

These are clear white braces that are difficult to see when on the teeth. Ceramic brackets are made of a high tech glass-like composite material developed as a spinoff material by the NASA space program. They are very strong and generally do not stain. These are the type of braces many celebrities had worn/wear. Adults like to choose ceramic because they "blend in" with the teeth and are less noticeable than metal and dont make our smile look metallic. A clear or tooth colored tie is used with ceramic braces. Most family and friends will not even notice your braces. Ceramic braces are guaranteed not to stain by the manufacturer, barring some foods, coffee, coke, curry, smoking etc and are expensive.

Pros Cons

They blend in with most teeth, particularly if they are not perfectly white. They are not very noticeable at a distance or in photos.

The clear or white ligatures (little elastics that hold the arch wire to the brackets) can stain, which defeats esthetics of the ceramic braces. But those are changed at your monthly adjustment.

Some people feel that they are more comfortable than metal and irritate your gums less.

Ceramic brackets are usually more expensive than traditional metal brackets.

Contrary to what you may have heard, ceramic brackets do not usually break or come off your teeth. They are very strong, and if bound with a plasma light, stay on as well as metal brackets.

Treatment can take a few months longer in ceramic braces.

From a purely esthetic point of view, they are a bit larger than metal brackets.

If you have severe problems, your orthodontist will not use ceramic brackets in many cases, because they may not be strong enough to withstand the forces of some types of treatment.

Lingual Braces

Lingual Braces function in exactly the same way as other, more traditional fixed braces. But there is one important, aesthetic difference. You won’t have a shiny, metal smile. The problem used to be that braces could only be fitted a certain way: right on the front of your teeth. The difference with Lingual Braces is that they can be fitted to the back of your teeth, rather than the front. So while they work just as effectively (and do just the same job), most of the heavy-duty metal work is concealed.

Pros Cons

Other people can't see the brackets unless they look inside your mouth.

They tend to hurt your tongue and make it difficult to speak at first.

They tend to be more expensive than traditional metal, because treatment is specialized.

Treatment can take a few months longer than traditional braces.

Your orthodontist must be specially trained in lingual treatment. Not every orthodontist does lingual treatment.

If you have severe problems, or need certain types of appliances, lingual treatment may not be applicable.