When we think of braces and orthodontics, we often think of children and teenagers with a mouthful of metal. But, orthodontic care isn’t just for kids: it’s for everyone! It’s never too late to get the perfect smile that you’ve always wanted. If you’ve been considering improving your smile, let this be a sign that you should take that leap of faith and invest in yourself. Adult orthodontics is the easiest and fastest way to improve your look and your self-esteem. Reach out to Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX today and learn about how we can help you get the healthy, happy smile you deserve.
Adult Orthodontics: Understanding Your Braces
Before we cover some of the most commonly asked questions for adults considering braces, it’s important that we understand what braces are, how they work, and what options you have when choosing the best braces for you.
Components of Braces
Bands are usually the first part of the braces that are applied. They’re called bands because they are a ring that fits all the way around your back molars. Orthodontists will select the right size ring and will use special dental instruments to create a perfect fit. The bands around the back molars create an anchor for the rest of the braces to attach. The bands also generally have welded attachments that allow the archwire to connect.
Brackets are small, square-shaped pieces that are cemented onto the tooth surface. The brackets have a slot for the archwire to pass through and hooks to attach rubber bands. The brackets are all cemented onto the teeth with special dental cement.
Archwires are a thin, metal wire in a semi-circle shape that fits in the brackets around the mouth. The archwire helps exert continuous pressure on the teeth so that they reposition themselves toward proper alignment. The orthodontist can choose to put certain bumps and dips in the wire to put extra pressure on specific teeth that may require more attention than others. The orthodontist will replace the wire with each visit and may choose to use a heavier wire that can exert greater pressure and encourage faster movement.
Elastic bands are wrapped around the brackets to encase the archwire and keep it attached to the bracket. By attaching the archwire to each of the brackets, pressure is exerted evenly on each of the teeth. Each time you visit the orthodontist, they will remove the ligatures and replace them with new ones. You can choose for your ligatures to be any color of the rainbow: you can have them stand out or blend in!
Types of Braces
When it comes to choosing the type of braces you want, there are several options. Before you visit with your orthodontist, you’ll want to know a bit about each type and have an idea of what kind you’d prefer.
The most common type of braces is metal braces, where all the different components are made of metal. Several decades ago, metal braces were very large and intrusive. The brackets covered most of the teeth and made them very noticeable. Now, however, the brackets are much smaller and are not nearly as noticeable.
Ceramic braces are a very common option for adults. This is because they have all the same components of braces but instead of being made of metal, they are made from ceramic material. This means that the braces are far less noticeable because they blend in with your teeth. The brackets, bands, and wires are all white.
In previous decades, some people were hesitant to opt for ceramic braces thinking that they would stain easily. While this was an issue during the first several years when ceramics came on the market, they have improved considerably. Now, ceramic braces can be worn without staining.
Lingual braces are similar to metal braces, but rather than being on the outside part of the teeth, they are on the inside. That means that from the outside, nobody can tell that you have braces! They’re just as effective as traditional braces or ceramic braces, but they aren’t as intrusive and they are practically invisible!
While they are a great option for some individuals who are seeking braces, they can be less practical for others. Because the individual wearing the braces can’t see them, they can be difficult to thoroughly clean, and they also can make talking difficult as the patient gets used to them.
Braces that are capable of self-ligating adjust themselves as the teeth move into the correct positions. Rather than using rubber band ties like traditional braces, self-ligating braces use brackets with clips or doors that hold on to wire. Because they are able to adjust themselves, they often move teeth faster and leave the patient with less treatment time. Best of all, self-ligating systems are available for both metal and ceramic braces. This is a great option for those with busy schedules because you don’t need to go to the orthodontist for adjustments.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does It All Work?
How do all these components come together to remodel your smile? As the braces begin to move your teeth, there are two parts of the mouth that are most affected: the periodontal membrane, which surrounds the root of the tooth, and the alveolar bone that the root is attached to. The movement of your teeth depends on how the periodontal membrane and bone react to the pressure.
While you might think that teeth will move more quickly with greater pressure, they actually respond better to a lighter force. A gentle and constant force causes the tooth to compress against the periodontal membrane, creating positive pressure on one side while creating negative pressure on the opposite side.
With the opposition of the positive and negative pressure, two biological processes happen to promote remodeling: deposition and resorption.
Osteoblasts, cells that grow bone, are produced on the side where the periodontal membrane is being pulled away from the bone; this is called deposition. Simultaneously, the side of the tooth that is being squeezed breaks down the bone with bone-destroying calls called osteoclasts; this process is called resorption. Resorption takes only three days, while deposition is a slower process and takes about three months.
So while it may seem as if the tooth is moving within the gum, it actually is being broken down and remade in the right direction!
Are Braces Effective on Adults?
There’s a myth that braces are so effective on kids and adolescents because they are growing and that teeth on adults are more settled and difficult to move. However, this isn’t true. The remodeling process that happens during orthodontic care is just as effective for adults as it is for kids.
What Is the Process of Getting Braces?
It’s important that you know what to expect during the process of getting braces. Knowing exactly what the process entails will help you to be informed and prepared for your new braces.
The first step on your road to getting braces is to get a referral. Most people get referrals from their dentist because you see them on a regular basis. If your teeth seem like they could benefit from braces, your dentist will probably recommend seeing an orthodontist to discuss your options. Of course, if you are unable to get a referral from your dentist, you can always call an orthodontist’s office on your own to set up an appointment. You should bring your latest set of x-rays from your dentist, if you can.
The first time that you meet with the orthodontist, you will have a consultation. They will look at your teeth and determine if braces are a good option for you. They will make sure to discuss your concerns with you as well as review your x-rays. Together, you can determine the best course of action. The orthodontist might also use this time to make a mold of your teeth to help them design your treatment.
After meeting with you and looking at your teeth, the orthodontist will design a treatment that is specific to you. No treatment is the same, and your orthodontist will make sure to personalize your treatment plan to your specific needs. If they did take a mold of your teeth, they will create a mockup of your braces on them so you can visualize what your treatment will look like.
Placing the Braces
The first appointment you have will last longer than your future appointments because placing the braces takes a bit of time. First, the orthodontist will condition the surface of your teeth, which can take anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour. The orthodontist will prime the teeth, then use a special cement to attach the brackets in predetermined positions.
Inserting the Wire
After the brackets are attached, the orthodontist will insert the wire. They will start with a semicircle of wire and cut it to the right length. They might put bends or kinks into the wire to create leverage over the other teeth to help them move faster. The wire is placed into the brackets and the rubber bands are wrapped around the brackets to keep everything together.
Discussion of Oral Care
After your braces are attached, your orthodontist will go over basic ways to care for your braces during your treatment. They will discuss with you how to brush your teeth and clean them effectively, what kind of toothpaste to use, and may even give you special toothbrushes to make cleaning your teeth and brackets easier.
Your orthodontist will generally want you to come in every three to four weeks for an adjustment. During an adjustment, the orthodontist will remove the archwire and bend it again or replace the wire altogether. Generally, the orthodontist will replace the wire with one that is slightly stronger or has a different configuration to help the teeth continue to move. Each adjustment will help push or pull your teeth in a certain way.
Are Adult Orthodontics Right for You?
It’s never too late to give yourself the gift of a flawless smile. Your smile is the first thing people notice about you, and you can never make a second first impression. You want your smile to give you the confidence and joy you need to move through the world as the best version of yourself. Adult orthodontics are the best way to get the perfect smile that you deserve.
For the answers to any other questions you have, or to schedule a consultation, call us at Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX today.