Straighten Your Teeth with Orthodontic Treatments
Straight teeth contribute significantly to an attractive smile, and can do wonders for one’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Research has shown that people with straight teeth are rated as more attractive, more intelligent and more desirable as friends.
Apart from aesthetic considerations, however, a more important and lesser known aspect about the benefits of having teeth that are aligned are the functional issues relating to oral health and speech.
Problems with Crooked Teeth and Gaps Between Teeth
Crooked teeth are susceptible to decay and gum disease, resulting in extensive and costly treatment over the years. This situation occurs because teeth that are misaligned are often difficult to clean and maintain.
Other issues resulting from crooked teeth or misaligned jaws include speech problems and trauma to dental tissues. For example, front teeth that protrude are prone to accidental injuries. Gum trauma may result when a bad bite chews at the gums, causing gum recession or ulcerations and loose teeth. Additional strain can also be put on the jaw joints resulting in joint pains and tension headaches.
Gaps between teeth should also be closed. If this is not done, over time, the teeth will end up shifting positions resulting in a change in the mid-line of the smile. Depending on the size of the gap, different methods can be used to address this.
What Are the Options?
Braces are one of the most popular solutions to straighten teeth and close gaps between teeth. When people think of braces they think of kids. However, there is really no age limitation in braces treatment.
- Metal Braces are effective and predictable in straightening teeth. Modern day metal brackets are much smaller and thinner than their predecessors, making them more aesthetic and comfortable. In recent years, braces wearers have found more options when it comes to expressing their fashion sense. Some patients change the colour of the braces modules (the rubber tie-rings on braces) several times during their treatment period according to their mood or occasion, e.g. red for Chinese New Year, orange for Halloween, etc.
- Ceramic Braces are tooth colored making them less noticeable than metal braces.
- Self Ligating Braces are innovatively designed to make it more comfort for patients and reducing the overall treatment time.
- Lingual braces adhere to the back of the teeth making them invisible to others
A new way to straighten teeth without conventional braces is by using a series of clear removable aligners (Invisalign®). Invisalign uses a series of transparent CAD-CAM aligners to gradually straighten the teeth. These ¡®invisible’ aligners are comfortable to wear and are removable. They are also an aesthetic option and allow better oral hygiene as the aligners can be removed for tooth brushing.
Invisalign is especially suitable for adult patients with mild to moderately overcrowded teeth, space between teeth or teeth that have relapsed from previous orthodontic treatment.
When is the Right Time for Treatment?
Most patients, regardless of age, can benefit from treatment to align their teeth or close the gaps between teeth. As long as your gums are in good condition, braces treatment is predictable. There are times that your dental team may need to clear up some existing dental concerns (e.g. cavities) before orthodontic treatment is started.
Regular dental visits for children are recommended as this allows potential problems to be identified early and preventive measures taken, e.g. discouragement of a thumb-sucking or pacifier habit, or the prevention of early loss of teeth due to poor oral hygiene. They will also be more likely to view dental visits as routine visits rather than anxiety-filled events.
While comprehensive orthodontic treatment usually starts around the time when all the permanent teeth have erupted, interceptive orthodontics may be indicated in some children between if they have traumatic bites or jaw discrepancies.
As for the upper age limit for teeth straightening treatment, there really is no ceiling. One of the oldest patients for Invisalign treatment was over 80 years old. With more seniors leading healthy and active lifestyles, there is a compelling reason why we should ensure that our teeth are in tip top condition to help us enjoy a fuller life for a longer period of time.