Clear Braces vs. Metal Braces

If the word “braces” conjures up images of a mouth covered in metal, you may need a reboot. Today’s braces wearers have choices – and none of them involve wrapping the teeth with metal.

Braces of brackets and wires are still popular, and sometimes preferred, but the brackets – the pieces that attach to the teeth to hold the wires – are no longer the heavy metal bands you may recall. They are now smaller and lighter, and glued onto the teeth instead of wrapped around them. They even come in colors.

The other popular braces choice is Invisalign, a recent product that straightens teeth using virtually invisible computer-generated clear plastic trays. Though the technology is fairly new, millions of people have created beautiful smiles with Invisalign.

There’s a third option that combines some of the attributes of both: ceramic braces. These work like traditional braces, with brackets and wires, except the brackets are made of ceramic instead of metal. The material can be clear or made to match your teeth – either way, they are less obvious than metal braces but more visible than Invisalign.

Each braces type – traditional and Invisalign – has advantages and disadvantages. Your orthodontist can advise you on which version will work best for your mouth, but often the final decision is yours – you pick the one that best suits your lifestyle.

To help you make that choice, here are some pros and cons of metal (or ceramic) braces and Invisalign.

Metal braces are not removable; Invisalign braces are. Fixed braces offer advantages for young people who may lose their appliance on a lunch tray or at a party or who may sometimes forget to wear it. Conversely, being able to remove your Invisalign trays allows you to eat and clean your teeth as you normally would.

Invisalign braces demand more responsibility from the wearer. For example, you must keep track of the appliance when you’re not wearing it, remember to keep it in at least 22 hours a day, clean your teeth each time you eat and remember to progress to the next appliance on schedule. Traditional braces must be carefully cleaned but otherwise do not require a lot of your attention.

Each type has unique food restrictions. You should not eat anything sticky or hard while wearing traditional braces – your orthodontist will give you a list of foods to avoid. On the other hand, Invisalign trays stain easily, and while you can eat normally when you remove your trays (for no more than two hours a day), it is important never to consume anything but water while wearing the trays and to brush every time you eat. Ceramic braces also may stain.

Metal braces may be more effective for complex treatment. Some bite problems are not candidates for Invisalign.

Office visits may be less frequent with Invisalign braces. Traditional braces usually are adjusted once a month. Because Invisalign trays work progressively, and you get two to four weeks of trays at one time, office visits can be less frequent.

The clear trays mean you’ll have an unobstructed pretty smile during your treatment. On the other hand, metal braces are now more streamlined and the use of colors allows you to style them each month to your mood or a holiday or event. Your smile becomes your message!

Metal braces may be less expensive – but not always. The price of Invisalign has been falling as the technology has become more popular.

Bottom line: Both types will create a perfect smile. Whichever style of braces you choose, you can be confident the result will be the beautiful smile you’ve always dreamed of!

Braces … Again?

A number of our patients are second-timers – adults and even older teens who had braces when they were younger and now need them again. The first question these patients ask is: Can I do this twice?

The short answer is nearly always “yes.” So long as your gums, teeth and mouth are healthy, your bones are strong and your roots are deep, there should be no problem restoring your proper alignment. Early treatment doesn’t in itself preclude later orthodontic work.

Why would a second round of braces be needed? Often, teeth shift simply as a result of aging. Just as your vision, hearing, weight and other aspects of your physical body modify as you mature, so do your mouth, jaws and teeth.

In some cases, injury or dental problems could lead to a braces re-do, but most often, teeth shift because the patient hasn’t followed instructions for using the retainer.

After braces, your teeth need time to permanently fix into their new positions in your jaw. It is the retainer, which your orthodontist will custom-make for you, that holds them in place. Some retainers are temporary but others require a lifetime commitment. As you mature, your orthodontist may periodically need to fit you with new retainers.

Proper care, beginning as soon as your braces come off, can prevent many cases of reversion. But if it’s too late for that, and you think you need braces again, they will likely be successful. After all, adults now make up as much as half the patient load in some orthodontists’ offices.

To clear up any confusion, here are some answers to questions we most often receive:

In some cases, a treatment plan anticipates two rounds of orthodontia.

Generally, orthodontists want to start braces after the permanent teeth have erupted. However, for some conditions, such as a severe crossbite that is best corrected while the jaw bone is still malleable, it is important to start braces by around age 7. Sometimes this initial work will be all that’s needed, but when it isn’t, the second round of braces is often easier and shorter – and less expensive – than it otherwise would have been.

In complicated cases, a two-stage treatment plan may be preferred.

Youngsters with severely misaligned bites or anomalous dental growth patterns may need such a laborious corrective treatment that the orthodontist will split it to give the patient a break.

Wisdom teeth can cause your teeth to shift.

One milestone to watch is the eruption of wisdom teeth, which generally appear in the late teens and even early twenties. These could crowd your other teeth and push them out of alignment. Your dentist can tell you if you should have your wisdom teeth removed.

Your own behavior can affect your bite alignment.

If you bite your nails, thrust your tongue or grind your teeth, for example, you can cause them to move. Specialists can help correct tongue thrust – essential for braces success – and your dentist can make you a guard to protect your teeth from grinding. Your doctor can recommend aids to curb nail biting.

Chemotherapy and similar medical treatments can impact the health of your mouth.

There are many different types of chemo, and everyone reacts differently to them, but chemo can cause problems with your teeth and gums that could result in movement or tooth loss. It’s important to see your dentist regularly during your treatment to make sure your mouth stays as healthy as possible.

Good hygiene is No. 1.

Take good care of your teeth! People who don’t floss and brush regularly and see their dentist at least twice a year risk losing teeth from cavities or gum disease. If you’re missing teeth, the other teeth drift into the open space, changing the alignment of your bite.

Braces may be easier the second time around.

If it’s been a while since you had braces, you will be pleased at the new products available now: Invisalign, which can barely be seen and offers lifestyle advantages; ceramic braces, which can be clear or match the teeth; lingual braces that are attached to the backs of the teeth. Even if you opt for metal, they will be smaller and more comfortable than you would have endured years ago. In many cases, the treatment time will be shortened and the cost reduced.

We can make your smile beautiful again! Call our office for a free consultation.

What is the First Thing You Notice When Meeting Someone New?

February is the month for romance! If you’re looking for love, it may not be your sparkling eyes or shining hair that catches your dreamboat’s attention.

Your grandmother’s adage turns out be true, after all: The first thing people notice about you is your smile. A survey for USA Today by Philips Sonicare found that 47% of respondents chose a great smile as the feature that most attracted them. Second was eyes, with 31%.

People with beautiful smiles have more dates, according to a recent study conducted by Kelton for Invisalign. The same study also revealed that two in five respondents said they would not go on a second date with someone who had unsightly teeth.

One more interesting finding from the Kelton study: Online singles are 57% more likely to contact someone whose photo shows off a pretty smile.

If you’re constantly hiding less-than-perfect teeth, this may be the month to think about creating the smile you’ve always wanted. It’s never too late. And it may be easier and faster than you think.

Don’t pass on braces because you don’t want a mouthful of heavy metal for two or more years. Our office offers options that are comfortable for you and barely noticeable to anyone else. For some patients, we can complete your treatment in six months.

Here are your choices:

Invisalign. By now, everyone has heard of these custom-made, nearly invisible, computer-generated aligners that gradually move your teeth into their proper position. With them, you can eat and brush as you normally would. You’ll confidently say “yes!” to any dinner date.

Clear braces. These braces are transparent, making them almost invisible. They’re also self-ligating, which eliminates the need for pesky rubber bands and metal ties during your treatment.

Hidden braces. We are one of the few orthodontist offices in the area that offer lingual, or hidden, braces. These braces are placed behind the teeth – the lingual, or tongue, side – so they are completely unseen when you smile.

Six-month braces. If you’re a candidate for these high-speed braces, you can have a new smile in about six months. This program is limited to only the front six or eight teeth and is suitable for people who want a prettier smile but don’t need bite correction.

If you need more convincing, consider these findings, also from the Kelton study. Nearly three in five respondents would rather have a nice smile than clear skin. And nearly 90% would give up something they like to have a pretty smile for the rest of their lives.

Not only can a dazzling smile turn heads your way, but it will boost your spirits and self-esteem. If you’ve been thinking about getting braces, contact our office for a free consultation to learn about the possibilities we offer. We’ll have options that will make you smile.

Am I Too Old For Orthodontics?

If you’re an adult who needs braces – for whatever reason: maybe you never had them as a child, your teeth have since shifted, or your dentist has alerted you to bite or jaw problems – there’s good news: You’re never too old for orthodontics.

A generation or two ago, orthodontists discouraged adults from getting braces. At the time, it was thought straightening teeth would be effective and permanent only while a child’s mouth was still maturing.

Now, through improved technology and techniques, orthodontics for adults can, in most cases, give perfect, lasting results.

Nothing is more beautiful than an impeccable, sparkling smile, and an attractive smile is a valid reason to want braces. But prettier teeth is not the only reason to undergo orthodontic treatment. A bad bite can be the result of many problems, or can lead to problems that result in tooth loss in later life. Misaligned teeth can even create medical issues.

Here are some important reasons why you might consider braces at any age. Some may surprise you:

  • You will have healthier teeth and gums. Straight teeth are easier to clean. It’s difficult to remove plaque from all the nooks and crannies of crooked teeth. When plaque remains on your teeth and gums, tooth decay and periodontitis (gum disease) – and worse – can be the result. What’s worse? Erosion of tooth roots and loss of supporting bone. Many adults in their later years are surprised to lose sound teeth because of unhealthy gums.
  • You may prevent your own heart attack. The National Institutes of Health and others report a correlation between dental plaque that is allowed to remain on the teeth and some systemic illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. It’s thought the plaque bacteria travel through the bloodstream.
  • Your jaw will be healthier. An uneven bite can lead to bone loss in your jaw and may be the cause of jaw joint issues, such as temporomandibular joint disease, familiarly known as TMJ. A bad bite also can cause headaches or jaw pain. Orthodontics can usually correct these problems.
  • Sleep apnea may be reduced. Excessive overbite, where your top teeth protrude – “buck teeth” – can cause your airway to become blocked while you sleep. A partially blocked airway can lead to snoring. If the airway is fully blocked, you could experience sleep apnea, which continually disrupts your rest. Apnea is associated with several health issues, including heart problems.
  • You may experience fewer headaches or less neck pain: Chewing with teeth that are not aligned properly can stress the bones that support your jaw and mouth, possibly causing chronic headaches or neck pain that could require medical treatment.
  • You speech may easier to understand. Misaligned teeth can affect speech patterns. Straightening your teeth could improve your speaking clarity.
  • You may avoid tooth breakage. Misaligned teeth are more likely to chip or break, especially if they are protruding.
  • Your self-esteem and confidence will get a boost – with rewarding results. You may think you’re OK with crooked teeth, but if you always press your lips together in photographs or cover your mouth when you laugh, you are more self-conscious than you realize. A confident smile has been shown to increase self-esteem, which, in turn, can open up new career and social opportunities. In a 2012 Invisalign study, job applicants with straight teeth were 45 percent more likely to be hired over people with similar qualifications but unattractive teeth. In the same study, 38 percent said they would not accept a second date with someone with misaligned teeth.
  • You may be happier. When your teeth are beautiful, you’ll smile more. And the act of smiling has been shown to increase happiness.

If you’re now convinced braces will be a good investment for you, we welcome you to call our office for a free consultation. You will leave with a full treatment plan. You may be surprised to know that you won’t be getting a mouthful of metal. We offer three attractive options: Invisalign (the clear trays); hidden (or lingual) braces (which fit behind the teeth); and clear braces (with clear brackets that are almost invisible).

It’s good to know: If you need braces, it’s never too late to benefit from them!

What Can You Expect From Our Free Orthodontic Consultation?

We always invite prospective patients to visit our office for a free consultation.

Although there’s no charge, this consultation is not a quick look into your mouth. We spend a full hour carefully evaluating your bite, mouth and jaw. When you leave, you will know exactly what course of treatment, if any, we would recommend for you. And if you choose treatment, you’ll be getting an early start.

What can you expect during this initial visit?

First, you’ll meet Dr. Jordan and the team and tour our office. We’ll want to know why you are considering braces and what you hope to achieve. We’ll also get your medical and dental history.

Then we’ll take oral and facial photos and a 3D X-ray. This low-radiation 3D X-ray gives us a detailed view of not only your bite but also your jaw joints and airway, which is important in planning your treatment.

With this information, Dr. Jordan will perform a full oral exam. At the end of the exam, he’ll go over his findings with you, let you know if you would benefit from braces and give you your options. The team will discuss with you the costs and flexible payment plans.

You can take all this information home to think about or discuss with your family. If you already know you want to go ahead with treatment, we can start that day. You may be surprised how quickly you can achieve your perfect smile.

Dr. Jordan uses a method that allows us to complete your treatment several months faster than with conventional treatment. At your first visit, he makes an impression of your mouth, then later fits your braces onto that model. By using the model, he is able to perfect the fit before actually placing the braces.

When your braces are installed, they are placed directly onto your teeth in just two pieces – top and bottom. This process can save six months or more of treatment time over traditional braces, which are attached one bracket at a time and often need several adjustments before they are exactly right. Dr. Jordan has had hours of specialized training to master this technique.

Why do we invest so much in a free exam?

We know that taking the time for a thorough evaluation at the outset ensures we can create your perfect treatment plan and give you all the information you need to make an informed decision. A healthy bite and beautiful smile are important to your health and your quality of life. A bad bite, or malocclusion, can lead to eventual tooth loss and harbor plaque bacteria that can cause cavities and affect your general well-being.

If you are interested in learning if braces would benefit you, please call our office at 707-226-5555 for a free – and thorough – consultation. We offer clear braces, hidden (lingual) braces and Invisalign, so you always have a beautiful smile even while you’re undergoing treatment.

Early-Age Orthodontic Treatment Part 2

What is the Best Time to Start Early-Age Treatment?

There is no “best time” to start orthodontic treatment because the answer depends on your child’s unique situation. However, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children be seen by an orthodontist no later than age 7.  Many orthodontists recommend even earlier screening at the age of 4 or 5 because there are some problems and habits that are best treated as early as possible.

For the most part though, if your child needs an early-age treatment, the treatment will be started when all the 6 year old molars and all of the adult incisors have erupted. Waiting too long beyond this point could make the treatment less effective because the child’s growth will stop and many early-age treatments rely upon utilizing the patient’s growth. In other words, there is a window of opportunity to treat certain problems that should not be missed!

What are the Benefits to an Early-Age Treatment Approach?    

  • Improvements in Self-Esteem: During critical years of childhood and adolescence, front teeth play an important role in a child’s self-esteem and psychological well-being. Irregularities in the front teeth can cause teasing from classmates. Straightening the teeth during early-age orthodontic treatment  can cause improvements in self esteem during these years.
  • Less Overall Time:  Although the patient is technically an orthodontic patient for a longer period of time, because problems are more easily treated earlier, there will be longer periods between appointments and shorter appointments in general, which is important for busy parents in this day and age.  
  • Less Pain: Some tooth alignment problems and bite problems can cause pain for children when they bite down or speak, so fixing them early will have a positive effect.
  • Prevention of Chipping and Damage to Teeth:  Protrusive or “Bucked” teeth are more at risk for fracturing or chipping so fixing them will minimize this risk.
  • Fewer or No Extractions: Much of the crowding of teeth can be corrected by early expansion, or regaining of lost space from premature loss of baby teeth, which minimizes the need for permanent teeth extractions.
  • Making Problems Less Severe:  Early detection and intervention can make problems easier to deal with overall.
  • Greater Patient Compliance:  Kids around the age of 7 or 8 are much more excited to get braces and orthodontics than they are at the age of 13 or 14, which means that they are more likely to comply with doing the things that they are supposed to do.  
  • Stability of Results:  Tooth movement in early age treatments are more adaptive to change and the results are more stable.
  • Less Traumatic:  For the most part the younger the patient is the easier tooth movements are, so overall there is less force needed to get the tooth to move which means patients experience less pain.
  • Improvements in Esthetics:  Studies show that a wider smile is considered more attractive.  Early treatments that involve expansion can increase the width of a smile and make it more attractive.
  • Improvements in Airway: Early-age treatment can also improve airways in growing children which can help with or help prevent other medical and cognitive problems.
  • Lower Treatment Costs:  Although each orthodontic office has different pricing models, for the most part early-age treatment should reduce overall costs. Especially if the need for more extensive procedures, like surgery, are avoided. Sometimes the cost savings could be substantial if a 2nd phase of treatment isn’t deemed necessary.

 

Examples of Some Early Age Treatment:

Early Age Treatment with Braces to Correct Anterior Crossbite

Palatal Expansion of a Narrow Upper Jaw:

Orthodontic Palatal Expanders (obtained from deardoctor.com)

We hope this 2 part series has helped you understand what early-age orthodontic treatment really is and if it is right for your child.  Now you know why that 8 year old is getting braces!

Early-Age Orthodontic Treatment Part I

Why are so many 8-year-olds getting braces?  

For most parents it might seem strange to see so many kids starting orthodontic treatment at such a young age, especially considering that when the parents themselves went through orthodontic treatment, kids generally didn’t see an orthodontist until their teens.  So why is there now a shift in philosophy? When should a child first be seen by an orthodontist? And does your child actually need early-age orthodontic treatment?


What is Early-Age Orthodontic Treatment?

The first thing a parent might want to know is what is early-age orthodontics? Early-age orthodontic treatment, otherwise known as preventive orthodontic treatment, interceptive orthodontic treatment or phase I orthodontic treatment, encompasses all treatments that can be performed before the adult teeth develop. The purpose is to eliminate or minimize tooth or skeletal dis-harmonies that can interfere with normal growth and development of tooth structures, the bite, or the TMJ. Waiting to correct such abnormal growth patterns can lead to problems with the airway, esthetics or the psychological well being of the child. In other words, early-age orthodontic treatment is preventative in nature, is most effective during the growth period, and has the goal to prepare the oral environment to allow the best possible skeletal, esthetic and orthodontic result.    

The Controversy over One phase vs Two Phases of Orthodontic Treatment:

One problem parents might have in deciding if early-orthodontic treatment is right for their child is that orthodontists sometimes disagree about this subject. One orthodontist may recommend that every child needs to get early age treatment and another orthodontist may recommend that no child ever get early age treatment.

The answer is neither of these two approaches. It completely depends on your child’s individual orthodontic problems and needs. Despite the many new advances in technology and diagnostic techniques and improvements in our understanding of growth and development in children, many practitioners do not know how to diagnose or manage early-age orthodontic problems, or do not know the optimal timeline for treating them.

The risk to not doing early age treatment for your child who is in need of preventive care during the developmental stage could be substantial. It is technically easier and in the comfort zone for most orthodontists to wait until all the adult teeth have erupted to start treatment, however if there were early-age treatment needs that were not addressed, the  orthodontic treatment may now require more invasive procedures like tooth extractions or, even worse, jaw surgery to achieve the same result. Most likely the orthodontist will be forced to “camouflage” the underlying skeletal problem by compromising the positions of the teeth, and although the results may end up being “good”  they will not be “exquisite.”

Will My Child Need a 2nd Phase of Treatment?

The short answer is “it depends.” Because the goal of early-age treatment is to optimize the environment to allow the best skeletal, tooth, and esthetic results, there are some patients who don’t need the 2nd phase. However, the majority of patients will most likely need a 2nd phase to fix minor irregularities that happened during the normal growth and eruption process of the teeth.

Another way to view this is the 1st phase early-treatment is more orthopedic in nature which means we are normalizing the growth and position of the bones and the 2nd phase is orthodontic in nature so we are normalizing the position of the teeth. By doing two phases, we are making each orthodontic process much easier, shorter and more predictable for most patients.