If you’ve lived with crooked teeth for many years, or if you have a child with crooked teeth, you may be surprised at how many choices you have when it comes to teeth-straightening methods. Whichever method you choose, you should know that you’re doing one of the best things you can do not only for your oral health, but also for your overall health. Having a straighter, more attractive smile gives a person more self-confidence, improves how they’re seen by other people, and can even provide long-term health benefits. But the question remains, which orthodontic treatment should you choose? There are many types of clear plastic aligners available, for example, and while those may work well for some patients, they’re not for everyone. For some people, the best choice is the old standby: metal braces. In this article, we explore who is a good candidate for traditional orthodontic braces.
Types of Orthodontic Treatments
We briefly mentioned traditional metal braces and clear plastic aligners, but those aren’t the only choice for dental patients interested in having straighter teeth. In fact, there are several options for orthodontic treatment, including the following:
- Clear aligners provided by a dentist or orthodontist – These custom-made appliances have proven to be effective for mild to moderate cases of overcrowded teeth, widely spaced teeth, and (in some cases) underbites and overbites. Invisalign® is one of the most popular brands, but there are others available as well. The treatment begins with the oral health care provider taking digital photos of the patient’s mouth. Those images are then used to create custom aligner trays. The patient can remove the aligner trays to eat and brush and floss, but he or she needs to wear them at least 22 hours each day for the method to work. Every few weeks, the patient needs to return to the dentist or orthodontist for a new set of trays. Clear plastic aligners offer several advantages for people with mild to moderate dental issues.
- At-home clear aligners – These appliances work in much the same way as clear plastic aligners that are custom made and available from a dentist or orthodontist. The biggest difference is that these aligners are sent directly to the patient’s home and don’t require ongoing trips back to the dentist or orthodontist. They are less expensive than aligners provided by an oral health care professional and generally take only about 6 months to work. If that sounds too good to be true, it may be. The fact is that at-home aligner technology is very new, and there isn’t a lot of evidence to show that they work for the long term. And these appliances only work for very mild cases of overcrowding or to close gaps between teeth. If you have any other issues, you are better off seeking other treatment options from your dentist or orthodontist.
- Traditional braces – While it may be tempting to immediately choose another option for straightening your teeth, traditional metal braces remain a viable option for many people. There are several reasons why this is true, but the most important is their effectiveness. In fact, conventional braces are still the best way to permanently change the position of teeth. And they work for virtually every situation, no matter how severe the patient’s condition may be. Traditional braces are also typically somewhat less expensive than other options. Conventional braces consist of metal brackets that are cemented onto the front of each tooth, then connected by an arch wire and ligatures. People with metal braces need to visit the dentist or orthodontist every few weeks to have the braces tightened as the appliances continue to move their teeth into their new, straighter positions. Falling within this same category are other methods which work on the same principle as conventional metal braces, but differ slightly. These include ceramic braces, which employ clear ceramic brackets in place of the conventional metal type, making them less visible to other people. Lingual braces work in the same way as conventional braces, except that the brackets are placed on the inside of each tooth rather than on the outside. Once again, the main benefit of lingual braces is that they’re not as noticeable to other people.
Who Are the Best Candidates for Metal Braces?
Generally speaking, almost anyone is a good candidate for conventional braces. But perhaps the greatest advantage of these appliances is the fact that they can correct the most complex and severe issues. For that reason, people with the following conditions are often the best candidates for metal braces:
- Overcrowding and spacing – If you or your child suffers from extremely overcrowded teeth, conventional braces are usually the best choice. The same holds true for people with wide spaces in between their teeth (also referred to as “diastema”). The constant, gentle pressure applied by traditional orthodontics has been shown to be the most effective long-term solution to these problems.
- Misalignment of teeth — Crossbites, overbites, and underbites — also referred to as malocclusion issues or misalignment of teeth — can all be corrected with traditional metal braces. This includes protruding teeth, or upper teeth that jut forward and fall some distance over and in front of the bottom teeth. Although not necessarily falling into the malocclusion category, open bites are also best addressed by metal braces. This condition is most often caused by excessive thumb-sucking. While many children grow out of the issue as their baby teeth fall out, permanent teeth that erupt later on can still be affected by this condition.
- Misaligned jaw – Most often occurring as a result of other misalignment issues, a misaligned jaw can cause a wide variety of issues, including headaches, earaches, facial pain, sleep disruption and more. Patients with misaligned jaws can often have their problem resolved with conventional metal braces.
When it comes to orthodontics, sometimes the old ways really are the best ways. To find out more about who is a good candidate for traditional orthodontic braces, schedule an appointment with your dentist or orthodontist today.