The word “orthodontics” is derived from the Greek words "orthos" (meaning proper or straight) and "odons" (meaning teeth). Thus, it makes sense that orthodontics is used to treat tooth misalignment and bite irregularity. While orthodontic treatment used to be geared toward teens and pre-teens, around 30% of patients now undergoing treatment are adults. There are many advantages to having nicely aligned teeth, including easier cleaning, better oral hygiene, clearer speech, and a more attractive smile. Though orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, the American Dental Association suggests that an orthodontic assessment should be performed around the age of seven. The earlier orthodontic treatment can begin, the more quickly any problems can be successfully resolved. The most frequently used methods to treat teeth orthodontically are with traditional braces or with clear aligners (i.e., Invisalign®).
What does orthodontic treatment do?
Helps with overcrowding, which is when there is too little space for the teeth to align normally in the mouth and which, if left untreated, can cause tooth decay and increase the likelihood of gum disease
Closes large gaps between teeth, which may be aesthetically undesirable
Fixes a crossbite, which occurs when upper teeth and lower teeth do not line up from side to side and which, if left untreated, can lead to bone erosion and gum disease
Fixes an overbite, which occurs when the upper teeth project out farther than, or completely cover, the lower teeth and which, if left untreated, may lead to jaw pain and/or TMJ problems
Fixes an underbite, which occurs when the lower teeth project out farther than, or completely cover, the upper teeth and which, if left untreated, may also lead to jaw pain and/or TMJ problems
Braces as a form of orthodontic treatment may take multiple phases, typically two. At the time of your very first appointment (called an orthodontic "work up"), we will take a series of highly accurate impressions (models), x-rays, photographs, and measurements. Dr. Davis will review a timeline with you based on your specific treatment plan, and we will schedule your subsequent appointments accordingly.
Phase I is usually done before all of the permanent teeth have erupted and often occurs between the ages of six and ten. It is a process used to expand or to make room in a patient's developing mouth by using fixed or removable appliances that are adjusted systematically and easily at home. This type of early intervention often decreases the length of time a patient has to be in bands and brackets later by working with nature instead of against it.
Phase II treatment begins when bands and brackets are placed to begin straightening and realigning teeth, typically after all permanent teeth have come in. On average, the duration of Phase II may be between 18 to 30 months. The Phase II process requires monthly checks during which Dr. Davis will adjust bands and wires according to your specific plan of movement. This phase may also utilize rubber bands that stretch between your upper and lower teeth and/or "stops" (composite buttons bonded behind your upper teeth to keep your bite from collapsing).
After you are finished with your treatment and debanded, we will take highly accurate impressions of your new smile to fabricate customized clear retainers called vacuforms and wire/acrylic retainers called Hawleys. Your vacuforms will need to be worn during the day for at least six months following your debanding. Your Hawleys will need to be worn while you sleep. This is often surprising to people, but if you want to keep your teeth from moving, you will need to wear your Hawleys every night for the rest of your life. We recommend that you clean your retainers the same way you clean your teeth (i.e., with a toothbrush and toothpaste) and that you store them in a clean, dry place. (Please note: dogs love the taste of acrylic, so keep your retainers well out of reach or you may lose them to your canine friend!) We also recommend that you always bring your retainers with you to your 6 month cleaning appointments so that we can give them a deep clean and check the way they are fitting you.
Invisalign® orthodontic treatment uses a series of custom-made, laboratory-cured, BPA-free plastic aligners that fit over your upper and/or bottom teeth. To fabricate a series of aligners that are specifically designed for you, we take x-rays, photographs, and highly accurate impressions (models) of your teeth. These are then used to create 3-D images, which enable the creation of a precise time-mapping plan to get you from where you are to your ideal smile. Once the planning is complete, a unique set of aligners can be fabricated. The total number of aligners required will vary with each individual, but 20-29 aligners per arch is typical. Approximately every two weeks, a new set of aligners are worn, with routine check-ups performed by Dr. Davis.
Invisalign® trays may take several weeks to get used to. They should be worn all the time, except when eating and drinking. (Please note: we recommend that you never place your Invisalign® trays in a napkin while you eat to avoid accidental disposal in the trash!) That being said, it is important to remove the trays when consuming food or drink because food can become trapped between the tray and your teeth, which can cause tooth decay over time. After you have achieved your brand new smile, we will follow the same process of retention as described above in the "Braces" section.
Call today for a free consultation to see if braces or Invisalign®
is right for you!