If you are new to the braces world, maybe you don’t know where to start and have tons of questions. We are here to help you by talking about braces and straightening your teeth. There are a lot of overwhelming options. We will cover everything: when to get them, what is the best age, when should you have braces and why you should have braces.
1. Who needs braces and at what age would you need braces?
Kids before age 5
When I see a young infant at 3 or 4 or even 5, I see spacing. I get very excited because that’s a child that may not need braces and is developing properly. However, I see a lot of kids that have a lot of crowding and that is a problem. That’s how most of us know that we need braces.
But there are other reasons that we need braces for. Is your child’s face developing correctly so that they will have room for the adult teeth? The take-home message is that it’s difficult to describe all these parameters. But get an orthodontic consult or referral for your child before age 5. Because as you’ll hear later, a lot of things need to be corrected earlier than you may think. If you think your child has crooked teeth or even if has spacing, get the orthodontic consult before age 5.
Kids age 10-12
If your kid is 10 years old and you have not had that early orthodontic consult, there’s still a need and reason to get the referral to your orthodontist.
A lot of adults have had ortho and the teeth relapse, that’s one reason you would see another orthodontist as an adult. But certainly, there are things that can be done in the adult stages that would correct more than just crowded teeth.
I would encourage you to seek out an orthodontist if you have TMJ (temporomandibular joint). If your bite isn’t feeling right or have mild facial pain, your muscles are tired, you can’t stay open at the dentist for long because you’re so tired. Gum disease, cavities, bad breath, lip posture even mouth reading can be addressed by seeing an orthodontist as an adult.
2. How to choose braces?
There are so many options. I’ve had metal braces and aligners. I’ve accepted many customers that have had both. The choice to make is an important one because there are so many different ways to straighten teeth. There are good ones and there are some bad ones.
Let’s start with the old standard metal braces. They are brackets and wires that are attached to your teeth. It’s great for aggressive movements and big spaces.
There are a lot of cons to that and I really don’t like metal braces. They cause a lot of problems: gum disease, gum inflammation, permanent gum recession and little white calcifications on the teeth that are difficult to remove. The movements are so aggressive that your roots can actually shorten, which means that your teeth will be more mobile and won’t be as strong. You cannot brush properly or you can’t brush at all and that’s the worst time to be intervening with wires and brackets.
The other thing is it can cause TMJ, which is a serious and painful thing to deal with. In general, when you have a wire and a bracket on your teeth, it will cause a lot of pain: cheek pain, tongue pain, swelling of the tongue, swollen gums, and bleeding gums.
Invisalign is a very elegant solution. I really like it and we can picture moving teeth with wires that are pre-bent. How does an aligner move teeth? It’s pretty simple. It’s a much more choreographed movement. In other words, you can move one tooth at a time without pushing a lot of teeth. You scan your teeth and a robot makes you a series of little covers that fit over your teeth. Each aligner is where they want your teeth to be in a week’s time. When the aligner first gets placed over your teeth, it actually doesn’t fit. The teeth get a few hundred grams of force from the aligner that’s twisting and trying to fit, those teeth will move into the aligner until the next aligner. It’s a very elegant clean solution that you can remove anytime you want.
3. Two systems of aligners
The first system which I just referred to is under the supervision of a dentist. He would take the impressions or scan your teeth and then have them manufactured and deliver them to you. He will make sure that the case goes well.
The second system is that you deal directly with the company without the oversight of a dentist, which is a very interesting development because the cost has gone way down.
There are two things that the direct-consumer-aligners cannot accomplish and they’re important:
IPR: Interproximal Reduction
Only dentist can do this. It makes spaces in between your teeth so that the teeth can move more readily and the end result will be better. He makes space to speed up the process and to allow for a better result.
Gluing on an attachment
The aligner can grip better on the tooth. If you have a tooth that is severely rotated, without an attachment that tooth probably will not unrotated.
When you choose between the two aligner systems, here’s what to think about: if you have a lot of tooth movement, spacing, crowding, functional issues, an overbite or underbite, by all means, you have to do Invisalign. You need the attachments and that ability to be able to make room between your teeth, which is the IPR I was referring to.
But for the simple cases like a little crowding or one tooth out of position, by all means, use the less expensive direct-to-consumer aligner system.
To sum up, here are my overall suggestions for your child.
1. Get them an assessment between the ages of 2 and 5.
2. From 5 to 10 have an orthodontist deal with the growth issues first and then go to a slight tune-up with aligners whether it’s direct-to-consumer or Invisalign style aligners. I think that is the future in orthodontics.
I hope this blog post has helped you be aware of the differentiate between all systems and allow you to hone in on exactly what your needs are.