Orthodontics/Braces and Invisalign/Clear Braces

What is Orthodontics?

The American Association of Orthodontists says that up to 75% of all Americans suffer from some degree of “malocclusion.”  The dictionary describes malocclusion as “irregular contact of opposing teeth in the upper and lower jaws.”  Orthodontics is the practice of dealing with this irregular contact of opposing teeth by straightening the teeth.

The first thought many people have when it comes to orthodontics is that it will give them a beautiful smile.  However, there are several advantages to having your teeth straightened.

  • A beautiful smile! (of course)
  • Straightened teeth can make it easier to chew your food.  Properly chewed food also aids in the digestive process.
  • Straightened teeth will protect your teeth.  When you bite down with misaligned teeth, it is possible to crack or break the visible part of a tooth.
  • Straightened teeth will protect your jawbone.  Regular chewing with misaligned teeth can potentially destroy the bone that supports the teeth.
  • Straightened teeth will make oral hygiene much easier.  Crooked teeth provide places for food to hide that are difficult to reach.

The most severe cases of crooked teeth may still require traditional braces.  Once Dr. Walters determines that Invisalign will work for you, the following treatment process can begin.

  • Dr. Walters will work with you to create a treatment plan for your specific situation.  He will being by taking “bite impressions” of your teeth.  Invisalign will use these impressions to custom-mold a series of transparent, plastic aligners that will gradually straighten your teeth until you have a beautiful new smile.
  • Based on your bite impressions, your aligners will be created through a precision computer program and then shipped to our office here in North Olmsted.
  • You will begin wearing your aligners approximately twenty hours a day.  Each new tray will be worn for 2-3 weeks as they realign your teeth in small increments.  You will remove them only for meals and oral hygiene.
  • Each aligner tray will be slightly different from the previous one.  The total process typically takes from 9-15 months.  You will likely wear anywhere from 18-30 different aligner trays.  Of course, those numbers will vary from one patient to another.

What is Invisalign/clear braces?

Invisalign has become a very popular choice of treatment for many people with moderate orthodontic issues.  Rather than attaching metal brackets to the teeth, Invisalign gradually straightens the teeth with a series of transparent, plastic trays.  This process has become popular for a few main reasons.

  • It is more comfortable – There is no comparison between the feeling of  the smooth plastic trays inside your mouth and the metal wire used for traditional braces.
  • It is practically unnoticeable – It is highly unlikely that most people will ever even know you are using Invisalign to straighten your teeth.
  • It encourages better oral hygiene – The semi-permanent nature of metal braces is a major obstacle to good hygiene.  Invisalign trays slide off quickly for brushing and flossing after every meal and before bedtime.
  • It has zero food restrictions – Invisalign is easily removable for mealtimes, and this means no food restrictions are required.
  • It is a quicker treatment process – It is likely that the Invisalign process will take you about half the time that traditional metal braces take.

Clear braces are another option available for the appropriate situation.  They function similarly to metal braces.  However, instead of metal brackets, we will use tooth-colored brackets.  Clear braces are almost as strong as metal braces.  While there are some exceptions, clear braces can treat nearly all of the cases that metal braces can treat.

How do I know if I need braces?

Since every patient’s situation is different, Dr. Walters recommends an evaluation for orthodontic purpose by the time a child reaches seven years of age.  This evaluation will help us determine if any orthodontic treatment is necessary.  It will also give us the opportunity to make the greatest improvement in the least possible time frame.

In most cases, an earlier start on treatment will produce results that may be unattainable when the face and jaws are done growing.  Here are a few signs that may signal that your child has a need for an orthodontic evaluation.

  • If your child continues a thumb/finger sucking habit after they reach the age of two.
  • If your child’s permanent teeth are overlapping or crowded
  • If your child has large spaces between his permanent teeth
  • If your child has difficulty chewing
  • If your child develops an open-bite or mouth-breathing habit
  • If your child’s jaw click or pop
  • If your child develops an underbite/overbite/abnormal bite

Of course, if you notice any of these symptoms in yourself as a teenager or adult, we would recommend an orthodontic evaluation as soon as possible.  Come into the North Olmsted office of Advanced Dental Care & Aesthetics and let us help you find a solution to your orthodontic needs.