What are My Treatment Options?
If your child is ready for orthodontic care, one of the first discussions to have with your orthodontist is which procedure is right for him or her; the options might be much more plentiful than you ever imagined.
If you’re like most people, you associate orthodontists with braces, but these days that is just one arm of what I or any orthodontist does. Here are some of the services most orthodontists will provide their patients with during the course of routine treatment:
- Metal braces
- Lingual braces placed behind your teeth
- Invisalign clear removable aligners
- Clear braces
- Expanders to match jaw size and tooth size
- Habit appliances to eliminate thumb sucking
- Space maintainers
- Retainers to prevent crowding and shifting of teeth
- Headgear to help correct jaw alignment
- Functional appliances to help improve facial balance
- Early treatment and growth modification
- Customized appliances designed uniquely for each patient
While many of these services may seem self-explanatory to you, several will probably not. In the course of the next few questions, I will try to elaborate on several of them, including:
What is Invisalign?
No doubt you’ve heard all about the revolutionary Invisalign® system for teeth straightening. Chances are, though, that while you’re familiar with the brand name of this amazing new product, you might not be familiar with exactly how the system works. In this section I’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about Invisalign.
For starters, the Invisalign system is the virtually invisible way to straighten your teeth and achieve the dazzling smile you’ve always dreamed of. Using advanced 3-D computer-imaging technology, Invisalign depicts your complete treatment plan, from the initial position of your teeth to the final desired position.
After that, a series of clear aligners are custom-made for your teeth – and your teeth only – to move them little by little. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks before being replaced by the next in the series, until the final position of your teeth is achieved. When will that be, exactly? The amount and duration of each aligner series differs for every mouth. Your Invisalign treatment time will be determined by your doctor, based on your specific needs.
What are the primary benefits of Invisalign?
Like the word that inspired them, Invisalign aligners are practically clear; or as close to “invisible” as one can get. No one may even notice that you’re wearing these virtually invisible “braces,” making Invisalign a seamless fit with your lifestyle and day-to-day interactions with others.
Invisalign is also removable. Unlike braces, you have the flexibility to eat and drink whatever you want during treatment by simply removing the aligners before a meal or snack. And you can also remove the aligners to brush and floss as you normally would for fresh breath and good oral hygiene.
Unlike braces, there are no metal brackets or wires that could cause irritation to your mouth with the Invisalign system. Furthermore, since your office visits during treatment don’t involve metal or wire adjustments, you will likely spend less time in the doctor’s chair (and that’s always a good thing for young patients!).
Finally, Invisalign allows you to view your virtual results and treatment plan before you start so you can see how your straight teeth will look when your treatment is complete.
How do I get started with Invisalign?
It’s simple: just make an appointment with your local orthodontist for an initial consultation. Most doctors will offer a free initial consultation to see if you are a good candidate for Invisalign.
How will Invisalign effectively move my teeth?
Aligners are the foundation for, and work in concert with, the Invisalign system. Like brackets and arch wires are to braces, Invisalign aligners move teeth through the appropriate placement of controlled force on your child’s teeth. The main difference is that Invisalign not only controls forces, but also the timing of the force application.
During each stage, only certain teeth are allowed to move. These movements are determined by your doctor as he or she maps out your unique Invisalign treatment plan.
What are aligners made of, and what do they look like?
The virtually invisible aligners, which are made of a thermoplastic material uniquely developed for the Invisalign treatment plan, look similar to tooth-whitening trays. Invisalign aligners are custom-made for you and only you to move your teeth in the sequence determined by your doctor.
How old is the technology?
In 1945, Dr. H.D. Kesling envisioned that one day modern technology would enable the use of a series of tooth positioners to produce the kinds of movements required for comprehensive orthodontic treatment.
Technology has made this vision a reality. Using advanced computer technology, Align Technology produces Invisalign, a series of customized clear appliances, or aligners. Each aligner is worn sequentially by the patient to produce extensive tooth movements in both upper and lower arches.
How many patients are being treated with Invisalign?
More than 3,000,000 patients worldwide have been treated with Invisalign. The number of Invisalign smiles grows daily. Will your child’s be next?!?
Has the FDA cleared Invisalign?
Invisalign aligners are classified as Class II medical devices by the FDA, and Align Technology, Inc. has held the necessary 510K clearance from the FDA since 1998 to be able to sell and market the Invisalign system.
Do Invisalign aligners contain Bisphenol-A (BPA)?
No. Invisalign aligners and do not contain Bisphenol-A or phthalate plasticizers. These aligners and retainers are made with USP Class VI medical grade, high molecular weight, polyurethane resins.
Tests have been conducted to determine the biocompatibility of these materials, and show that they are biocompatible and pass all applicable regulatory requirements and thresholds for human wear in the mouth. Of course, as with any medical device, you should consult with your health care professional about your aligner or retainer treatment and any applicable risks of use.
Are Metal Braces Still Used?
The fact is, metal braces still have a valued place in the orthodontic world, and despite advances and breakthroughs of products like Invisalign and even clear braces, aren’t going extinct anytime soon!
Why are metal braces still so popular? Well, for one thing, metal braces are very strong and can withstand most types of treatment. Today’s metal braces are smaller, sleeker, and more polished than ever before.
Traditional metal braces require an elastic o-shaped rubber band, called a ligature to hold the arch wire onto the bracket. Kids and adults like these braces because they can be customized with different colored o-shaped rubber bands.
You may have heard of “self-ligating brackets” or “tie-free braces.” Self-ligating means that the brackets do not need the little o-shaped rubber bands (ligatures) or metal tie wires to hold the arch wire onto the bracket. Several companies have developed braces for holding the wires in place without ligatures. They use a “door” to secure the arch wire to the bracket.
Despite what you may read online, that has been no compelling research to suggest that self-ligated metal braces are superior in any way to traditional metal braces. Both are capable of producing great results. In my opinion, the artist is more important than the paintbrush, just as the orthodontist is more important than the bracket itself.
What are Clear Braces?
Ceramic braces are very strong and generally do not stain. Two popular brands are Clarity Advanced, made by 3M Unitek, In-Ovation C, made by GAC, and Damon Clear, made by Ormco. Adults like to choose ceramic because they “blend in” with the teeth and are less noticeable than metal. These are the type of braces actor Tom Cruise had.
In my opinion, Clarity Advanced are the most beautiful clear braces with the best clinical properties. Unlike In-Ovation C and Damon Clear (which are self-ligating clear braces), Clarity Advanced braces require a tie to keep the wire in place. In our office, we use white wires and white coated ties that don’t stain. So, the aesthetics are great.
Clear braces like In-Ovation C and Damon Clear are esthetic because they don’t require the rubber bands that could stain with certain foods or drinks. However, In-Ovation C braces have a metal slot that is visible and Damon Clear are a little harder to work with clinically.
Again, in the hands of a trained orthodontist, any bracket can be used to produce a beautiful end result.
It’s not uncommon for individuals who have undergone orthodontic treatment earlier in life to find their teeth have drifted out of alignment over the years. Most adults won’t think twice about bleaching their teeth to roll back the effects of time. Yet few think about the role orthodontics can play.
Adults of all ages can enjoy the same cosmetic and health benefits of properly aligned teeth.
What Is Incognito By 3M?
Brought to you by the brilliant minds at 3M, you are about to discover a completely different way to wear braces. Incognito is the only fully-customizable lingual (inside of your teeth) braces system on the market.
To help me explain the majesty and wonder that is this revolutionary new system, I’ve comprised what I call The 3 I’s of Incognito:
The First “I” of Incognito: Invisible
iBraces (now known as Incognito) Orthodontic Braces are a new generation of orthodontic braces for teens and adults. Because they are placed behind your teeth, no one will ever know you are wearing braces unless you tell them. The Incognito Appliances can give you a beautiful smile, even while you’re wearing them.
The Second “I” of Incognito: Individualized
Incognito Appliances are the only 100% customized fixed appliance system for invisible orthodontic treatment on the U.S. market today. They are created using state-of-the-art technology and are completely customized to the shape of your teeth and to your dental situation. And they have the unique prescription that your orthodontist creates for you built-in, to ensure you get the results that you want.
The Third “I” of Incognito: Intelligent
With the Incognito System you get efficient, effective tooth movement and great aesthetics. From the outset, the brackets and wires are engineered to deliver targeted results.