How Orthodontic Treatment Works
Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic, or Invisalign. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to a corrected position. This is a great time to wear braces! Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can choose brackets that are clear or metallic color. You can choose the color of the ties that hold the wire in brackets. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients.
Duration of Treatment
Treatment time typically ranges from one to two years, depending on the growth of the patient's mouth and face and the severity of the problem. Patients grow at different rates and will respond variously to orthodontic treatment, so the time to case completion may differ from the original estimate. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take as few as six months.
Crowding of the teeth
Patient started treatment at age eleven and wore braces for twenty-six months. He loves his new smile.
Openbite: Front teeth don't touch
Patient sucked her thumb as a young child. She started treatment at age thirteen. She had braces and a special appliance — called a crib — to retrain the tongue, for twenty-eight months. Now she can bite the lettuce out of a sandwich.
Deep overbite: Lower front teeth bite into palate
This adult patient (age twenty-five) required braces and jaw surgery to correct his severe overbite, with treatment taking two years. His problem could have been corrected without surgery if he had been treated before he was a teenager.
Missing lateral incisors
This patient's lateral incisors were congenitally missing. She had braces for twenty months to move the teeth into the correct position, then the missing teeth were replaced with bonded "Maryland" bridges.
Underbite: Lower front teeth in front of upper teeth
Patient's underbite was causing her jaw joint discomfort and excessive wear patterns on her teeth. After thirty months of treatment starting at age thirty-two, she now finds smiling and chewing much easier.
Spacing of teeth
Patient was bothered by the spaces between his teeth. Braces closed the spaces and gave him an ideal bite in twenty-four months. Special glued-in retainers help keep the spaces closed.
Overbite: Protruding front teeth
At age ten, patient had a big overbite with the top teeth protruding beyond the bottom. She had two phases of treatment. The first helped her jaws to grow more harmoniously; the second aligned her teeth and bite. At age thirteen, she was proudly displaying her new smile.
Sometimes braces are not needed to get noticeable improvements in tooth alignment. This patient was first seen at age seven for crowding of the lower permanent teeth. A procedure was performed to reduce the width of the adjacent baby teeth and the permanent incisors aligned on their own in nine months.
Patient's parents were concerned about both aesthetics and the health of the erupting permanent teeth when they brought him to the orthodontist at age eight. The lower front teeth were crowded and they touched the palate, and the upper front teeth were extremely displaced from their normal positions. After twenty months of Phase I treatment with an expander and partial braces, patient's appearance and dental function was vastly improved.