Understanding Orthodontic Braces

All You Need to Know About Orthodontic Braces

A lot of people often do not realize this, but technology is central to successful orthodontic treatments. From diagnostic tools and technologies, to the specialized and customized appliances we use on our patients, the field of orthodontics relies heavily on the correct and relevant implementation of the many tools we now find at our disposal. Of these, perhaps the most important are the dental appliances that an orthodontist makes use of.

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At Orthodontists Associates of WNY, we make use of only the finest tools and appliances that are available in the market. Moreover, we customize them to fit into/around the mouths of each individual patient in order to ensure high success rates. In the following sections, we describe three different types of such devices and appliances that are central to our practice.

Temporary Anchorage Devices

Temporary Anchorage DevicesTAD is an abbreviation for temporary anchorage devices. In the simplest explanation, TADs are mini-implants in the mouth. The function they serve is to hold the teeth in a certain place. Orthodontists frequently use temporary anchorage devices to align and support the teeth of the patient during treatment.

Temporary Anchorage Devices are relatively new to the market. The FDA only recently approved them for use in 2005. Before TADs, many patients had to use headgear in order to keep their teeth in place. The issue with headgear lies in patient cooperation. If patients do not wear the headgear as directed, their teeth will not fully benefit from orthodontic treatment. TADs enable orthodontists to ensure that the teeth have proper support for the correct amount of time. Currently, TADs are the most reliable method to anchor teeth during the treatment process.

There are two types of TADs: an indirect anchorage and a direct anchorage. An indirect TAD links to your teeth. Orthodontists use TADs when they do not want to anchor the teeth to each other. This is because it is more flexible. A direct TAD is an anchor that supports tension on certain teeth that need to be moved. TADs are removed after the orthodontic treatment is completed.

How TADs are Placed

During orthodontic treatment, orthodontists usually have to remove premolars to make room in the mouth to move the teeth into their proper positions. TADs are important because they can help support teeth during the orthodontic process instead of having to remove them. TADs also provide anchorage when the orthodontist must move teeth. They can also help to anchor teeth when there is a need to correct a gap between the teeth.

TADs are made out of titanium alloy. Titanium alloy is extremely strong and doesn’t rust. That’s two of the many reasons why titanium alloy is an ideal choice of material for TADs. TADs have two parts. The first part is the implant head. This is the part of the TAD that is used to secure the teeth. The second part of the TAD is the implant body. It is similar to a screw in nature. It is put into the bone to act as an anchor.

The head of the TAD has an eyelet that is used by the orthodontist to thread the wire through in order to secure the teeth. TADs have a smooth part that both suppresses growth of the gum material where the implant is located and to also minimize the risk of bacterial infection.

There are several different TADs. Your orthodontist will let you know which TAD will best meet the goals of your treatment. Regardless of the type, the screw portion of the TAD is drilled into the jaw. Although it may sound painful, it’s often not. It’s generally painless because the bone in your jaw has no pain receptors. Your orthodontist will first apply a topical analgesic to numb your oral tissue. You will feel pressure when your orthodontist inserts the TADs.

In fact, TADs are also not painful to remove. When it is time for your TAD to be removed, your orthodontist will apply a topical analgesic to numb your oral tissue. Then they will back the TAD out. It usually takes only a few seconds.

Relief for Discomfort Caused by TADs

Generally, most patients experience no discomfort after the procedure. If you do find that you have discomfort from your TADs, take some over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. If you are experiencing discomfort in the gum line, you can take over-the-counter medication or cover the tip of the TAD with a cotton swab. Then, make an appointment with your orthodontist.

Keeping TADs Clean

Believe it or not, keeping your TAD clean is extremely easy. You will clean your TAD three times each day using a soft toothbrush. Your orthodontist will also give you a special mouthwash to use. It is important that you use it as directed. The mouthwash helps minimize the growth of microbial bacteria that can cause infection. You should use the mouthwash twice each day.

How Long a TAD is Needed

How long you will need a TAD depends on the problem that your orthodontist is correcting. A patient usually does not require a TAD for longer than a few months. Again, though, this depends largely on your specific issue. Your orthodontist will be able to give you an idea of how long you’ll need the TAD.

Summary:

  • TADs are mini implants in the mouth that hold the teeth in place.
  • TADs are important because they can help support teeth during the orthodontic process instead of having to remove them.

Clear Braces

Clear BracesClear braces, or invisible braces, are less conspicuous than traditional braces. These are ideal for both adolescents and adults. The purpose of clear braces is to not draw attention to the mouth. Hence, they are less obvious. As a result, the wearer is more confident about their appearance whilst undergoing orthodontic treatment.

Traditional braces are made from stainless steel. The brackets are cemented onto your teeth. The metal wires, known as a metal archway, is run through the bracket. Clear braces perform the same job as traditional braces. While traditional braces make use of metal wires, or a metal archway, clear braces allow patients to choose between clear ceramic archways or metal ones. Clear archways are preferred by people who struggle with the prospect of sporting unsightly metallic braces.

After the orthodontist affixes the braces to your teeth, you will visit him/her every 4-6 weeks for adjustments. The typical amount of time that one wears clear braces is 1-3 years. After treatment is complete, patients wear retainers to keep their teeth in the right place.

Patients are advised to follow their orthodontists’ instructions about maintenance of the braces. Not doing so can cause noticeable discoloration of the braces. We advise patients to stay away from consumables that cause staining, like coffee, tea, red wine, tomato based sauces, curry and smoking.

It is also important that you brush your teeth three times a day. These are best practices for good oral health, and it will help protect clear braces from staining. Additionally, you should carry on your person a travel toothbrush and a small container of toothpaste the event that you are dining out and discover food stuck in your braces. While the same holds true with metal braces, it becomes distinctly more noticeable with clear braces.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Clear Braces

There are two distinct advantages of clear braces. The first is that clear braces are more favorable aesthetically. The brackets are distinctly less obvious with clear braces. This is because they are made from ceramic. This is a huge benefit for people who feel self-conscious about the fact that they will be pursuing orthodontic treatment. The second advantage is in the treatment time. In many instances, clear braces provide results faster than clear aligners.

There are some disadvantages with clear braces. The first is that some may find the cost restrictive. Clear braces are more expensive than traditional braces. If you find that clear braces are outside of your financial reach, talk with your orthodontist about financing options. The second disadvantage is that the ceramic brackets are susceptible to staining. If any staining occurs, the brackets will likely become more conspicuous. Patients usually dedicate considerable time and effort to keep clear braces clean.

Good Candidates for Clear or Ceramic Braces

Your orthodontist will likely refer to clear braces as ceramic braces. To determine whether or not clear braces are the right option for you, you need to:

  • Make sure that you really can and want to devote the extra time it will take to keep your clear braces clean.
  • Make sure that you can devote yourself to giving up certain foods and drinks (and smoking) during your treatment. Not doing so will stain ceramic brackets.
  • Check on the cost and check with your dental insurance company. Find out what portion you will be responsible to pay. Talk with your orthodontist to ask about financing options, if needed.
  • Consult with your orthodontist about whether clear braces are the best choice for you. Although orthodontists may use clear braces to treat those issues typical of traditional braces, it is important to speak to your orthodontist first. He/she is the only professional who will be able to help you decide which treatment is best for you.

Summary:

  • Clear braces are made of clear ceramics arches and brackets.
  • These are infinitely less noticeable and conspicuous than traditional metallic braces.

Invisalign

InvisalignInvisalign® is a system of clear aligners that help teenagers and adults get the straight smiles that they want without the use of traditional or clear braces. Since Invisalign® aligners are made specifically to treat your orthodontic needs, they are often more comfortable for you to wear.

The FDA has classified Invisalign as a Class II medical device. The FDA cleared Invisalign® for use by the public in 1998. Invisalign® aligners and retainers are phthalate free. They are made from Class VI (medical grade) high molecule weight polyurethane resins.

Invisalign is more expensive than traditional braces. However, for a lot of patients, the increased rates are worth it. You should review your dental insurance policy to determine if it covers the cost. Many Invisalign providers also have financial plans to make the smile of your dreams more affordable.

Benefits of Invisalign

Invisalign® has many benefits. First, Invisalign is more comfortable than traditional braces. If you currently have traditional or clear braces, you do have the option of talking with your orthodontist to find out if you can switch to Invisalign. Many orthodontists treat their patients by combining the use of traditional braces and Invisalign.

One of the things that people hate about having traditional or even clear braces is that they have to give up certain foods during treatment. With Invisalign, there are no food restrictions. One of the few times that you remove your aligners is when you are eating. Then, you clean your teeth and put your aligners back in. You can continue to eat crunchy foods, drink coffee, and eat foods with tomato-based sauces. The only restriction generally given with Invisalign is to avoid chewing gum. This is because chewing-gum sticks to your aligners.

If you’re worried about the pain that is often associated with the use of traditional braces, then you should consider Invisalign. Although some patients report minor discomfort in the first few days of a using a new aligner, it is generally far less uncomfortable than traditional or clear braces. Patients often report it not as feeling painful, but as a feeling of pressure in their mouth.

Invisalign is clear and easy to use. It is great for people who are worried about the attention they may get from wearing traditional braces. Since they look and fit similar to a custom whitening tray, they aren’t as noticeable during treatment. Some patients do report having a small lisp during the first few days of treatment. However, this goes away as your tongue learns to navigate in your mouth with the aligners.

Invisalign treatment takes, on average, about a year. However, it could take more time to help you get the smile of your dreams. Invisalign has come a long way since its first approval for use in 1998. Orthodontists now use it to treat various bite problems. So, if you thought that you wouldn’t qualify for Invisalign, check with an orthodontist who specializes in its use. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Summary:

  • Invisalign is a system of clear aligners that may be used along with traditional or clear braces, or independently, during orthodontic treatment.
  • They are far more comfortable than clear or traditional braces and impose no food restrictions on the wearer.

 A smile is the most important thing you wear. Want to get that perfect smile? Contact the skilled and specialized team of orthodontists at Orthodontists Associates of WNY at any of their offices in the Greater Buffalo Area to start charming the world with your smile.

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