Orthodontic treatments are used to correct misaligned teeth and jaws, such as overbites and underbites, crooked or crowded teeth, or teeth with too much space between them. An orthodontist is a specialist who performs these treatments and uses special devices, such as removable trays, lingual braces, Invisalign, orthodontic elastics, banded or glued retainers, clear retainers, and interproximal reduction (IPR). Each type of appliance has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best option for you will depend on the treatment you need and any problems that persist. Removable trays are a gentle way to move your teeth into their correct positions.
Lingual braces are similar to traditional orthodontic appliances in that they adhere to the teeth and work to correct misalignment. However, they are placed on the back of the teeth so that they are hidden from view. This means that you can achieve the same straight smile without feeling self-conscious about wearing a brace. Invisalign is another effective method for straightening your teeth without wearing braces.
Instead of metal brackets and wires, a transparent plastic aligner tray is placed on the teeth as a retainer. These trays are changed every two weeks to adapt to the changing shape of the teeth and can be removed for eating and cleaning throughout the day. Orthodontic elastics are special elastic bands used together with orthodontic appliances to help correct jaw problems or tooth alignment. These bands can pull the jaw forward or backward to improve the bite and accelerate the process of aligning the teeth.
Banded or glued retainers can be attached to the back of the teeth to maintain the correct placement of one or more teeth, or a clear retainer can be worn overnight. Interproximal reduction (IPR) is a process by which your dentist can create space between your teeth. If you need an IPR, treatment with clear aligners at home is likely to leave your teeth without adequate space to move as needed. Standard palatine expanders look similar to Hawley retainers, while expanders for “rapid maxillary expansion” are more resistant and are fixed appliances. After a certain point of growth, the expander must be surgically placed inside the mouth.
This is called “Surgically-Assisted Rapid Palatine Expansion” (SARPE). It is important to support palatine growth early in life (already during pregnancy) in order to avoid this type of treatment. Orthodontic arches (or “arc wires”) are made in the shape of the dental arch and help correct the position of the teeth. If your toddler has trouble pushing his tongue or sucking his finger, it's important to intervene to prevent orthodontic problems. Thumb sucking causes the palate and teeth to grow inadequately (something like drinking from sippy glasses).
You can get a non-personalized TRD (like this one), but both night guards and MADs must be custom-fitted by your dentist or orthodontist. Treatments vary in how long they need to be effective, but most orthodontic treatments take 1 to 5 years to complete. The factors that influence this are the levels of treatment required, the patient's age and the preferred method. Many people feel more confident about choosing a dentist who is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). This organization has more than 19,000 members of orthodontists licensed in the United States who are committed to a very high standard of orthodontic care.