Modern Advances in Orthodontic Devices
Orthodontic treatments have been around for more than 100 years. A lot has changed since they were first introduced. Today, there are more options for correcting problems like crowded, crooked or protruding teeth. Besides traditional metal braces, there are devices that may make treatment more comfortable, less noticeable and more flexible, to fit your preferences and lifestyle.
Here are some of the positive changes that have resulted from advances in orthodontics:
Braces are more comfortable than they were years ago. Traditional braces straighten teeth by putting pressure on them. Brackets or bands are glued to the teeth and connected by wires. An orthodontist gradually adjusts these brackets until the teeth are aligned.
Newer braces are smaller. They apply gentle pressure so they cause less discomfort. Also, modern braces usually require fewer adjustments than older ones did. This means fewer visits to the orthodontist!
Braces are not as obvious as they used to be. Besides being smaller, they don't have to be shiny metal. Today, they also can be made from other materials, such as ceramic and plastic. These options may be clear or the same color as your teeth. This makes them less noticeable.
Newer braces also don’t have to be fastened to the front of the teeth. So-called “invisible braces” attach to the back of the teeth and can't be seen. These braces are also called lingual braces because they face the tongue.
Among the least noticeable options for straightening teeth are clear aligners, such as Invisalign®. These are clear trays that fit over your teeth. The trays gradually move your teeth into a new position.
With traditional braces, it’s important to avoid certain sticky, hard or chewy foods. Braces can also make brushing and flossing more difficult. That's not the case with clear aligners. They have fewer restrictions and dental care is easier. That's because you take the aligning trays out to eat, brush and floss.
For people who need mild to moderate correction, clear aligners may be more comfortable and convenient.
There are also more choices for people who want to have fun with their braces. Besides traditional metal, clear plastic, or ceramic braces, gold-plated braces are also available. And, the brackets on braces today can be shaped like hearts or footballs. The rubber bands used to adjust braces also come in different colors, like red, white and blue.
Once your braces are removed, you'll likely need to wear a retainer to help keep your teeth straight. Among newer choices are retainers that glow in the dark, making it a little more fun to go to sleep with one in place.