Are you embarrassed by your smile? Do you wish your teeth were straighter? While crooked teeth obviously don’t do your appearance any favors, they can also be detrimental to your health. Many dentists believe that crooked teeth are more likely to get cavities because they are hard to clean. If your teeth are not as straight as you would like, there are options available. Not only will they improve your smile, but they will also help with your dental health.
The treatment for crooked teeth may focus on any one of three things, and in some cases, it may focus on fixing more than one of these issues at a time. Crowded teeth are one concern. A second issue is gaps between the teeth. And finally, treatment might also focus on an under-bite, overbite or malocclusion’s.
When you think about treatment for crooked teeth, braces probably come to mind. This treatment method is used most often to straighten teeth because it is effective and it is the least expensive of the available options. Some patients are fitted with fixed braces. This often occurs when the situation is fairly serious. Brackets are glued on the teeth and connected with a wire. Other patients have removable braces put on. This is done in less severe cases, and the treatment targets specific teeth with springs and wire clips.
Braces can be made out of ceramic, plastic or metal. Elastic bands may be placed on the teeth to help with the straightening process. In addition, some orthodontists also use headgear to address issues with the back teeth.
Clear aligners are plastic molds that can be taken in and out of the mouth. Each aligner is worn for two weeks. At that point, it is disposed of and a new aligner is put in. Patients must wear the mold throughout the day, although they can take it out to eat, floss or brush. The straightening process takes a little longer with aligners than other methods. It is also expensive, but many people feel they are worth the time and cost involved in order to avoid metal braces.
Lingual braces allow patients to straighten their teeth in a less obvious manner than traditional braces. They are typically placed behind the teeth, instead of on the teeth, so they are not noticeable. Still, lingual braces don’t work for everyone. An orthodontist must evaluate your situation to see if you qualify. In addition, this option is typically costly because the braces are custom made. Finally, it is not unusual for plaque to build up because of the way the braces are positioned and the challenges with cleaning them.
When a case is not very severe, short term braces may be used. The major difference between this treatment type and the others is the length of time that the treatment remains in place. Often, short-term braces are only used for about half a year, in stark contrast to traditional braces, which may stay in place for several years.
After braces are taken off, patients are typically given a retainer and asked to wear it for a certain amount of time. This helps ensure that the teeth stay where they are supposed to. Retainers can usually be taken in and out of the mouth at will.
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