Orthodontics: Putting Teeth in the Right Place
Teeth can be crowded and all squished together. They can also be far apart with big gaps. Some teeth lean over or are twisted and turning. Teeth end up in the wrong place and in funny positions for many reasons. The good news is that orthodontic dentistry is moving teeth in amazing ways to put them exactly where they need to be.
Not Just Cosmetics: Straight = Healthier
Most people want ‘straighter’ teeth because straighter teeth look better. Everyone wants a beautiful smile. However, getting straighter teeth is not just about beauty and looking better. Straighter teeth are healthier teeth. Teeth that are crowded or angled irregularly easily catch food and trap plaque leading more quickly to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Teeth that aren’t in the correct position also hit against the opposite teeth in an unbalanced way and lead to premature tooth wear, cracks and broken teeth. Teeth that are too long or too short are often that way because of an imbalanced bite, which means that fixing the tooth length involves fixing root problems and preventing jaw and tooth complications later on. None of the issues caused by crooked teeth are urgent, ‘fix me this minute!’ kind of problems like a toothache or an abscess, but they are issues that cause continual dental problems throughout life if not fixed.
Invisalign vs. Braces
More and more patients and doctors are opting for Invisalign to straighten teeth versus regular braces. What’s the difference and how do you know what’s right for you??
What’s Invisalign? Imagine your smile with beautifully straight teeth. Now imagine creating that smile without a mouthful of pokey brackets and wires – That’s Invisalign.
Invisalign straightens teeth using clear plastic aligners. It’s practically invisible (hence the name) and much more comfortable than have metal in your mouth. Invisalign is fast and easy.
Our patients also Invisalign because having removable trays makes it so much easier to thoroughly clean your teeth during treatment. Clean teeth are especially important during orthodontic treatment because stuff left behind can cause cavities and ‘orthodontic spots’ the whitish spots of weakened tooth that appear on people’s enamel if they don’t clean their teeth well enough. Brackets and wires make cleaning teeth tricky and time consuming. With Invisalign, you can brush and floss like normal! ?
Invisalign has the additional advantages of being less expensive typically than traditional braces and requiring fewer trips to the dentist. Our patients who live outside San Antonio love that Invisalign doesn’t require constant wire-changing appointments.
So if it’s so great, why doesn’t everyone use it?
Until recently, Invisalign could only handle more basic teeth straightening. Thankfully, advanced new Invisalign technology means it’s now being used successfully to straighten more complicated crooked teeth issues like you see in our patients? photos here. More and more patients are benefiting from the convenience and comfort of Invisalign; however, limitations remain for extremely complicated cases. Getting the best result requires using the correct treatment. If you need braces, but choose Invisalign, you won’t get ideal results.
How can you know if you need braces? First of all, the dentist should tell you! Second, Invisalign creates a simulated before and after for every patient. If you don’t like what you see, you can ask for modifications or choose braces. We work with phenomenal orthodontists in the San Antonio area who are masters at taking completely complicated cases and turning them into straight smiling sweetness!
Because Invisalign success depends on wearing the aligners for enough hours every day, it isn’t a great treatment for children or young adults who might struggle to remember to wear the trays after each meal. We don’t recommend Invisalign for kids under the age of 12 and we consider early teens on a case by case basis. Invisalign is the perfect option for people who will wear the aligners consistently and who can’t or don’t want to spend months of their life dealing with brackets and wires.
Braces are much less comfortable than clear aligners and often cause mouth sores and ulcers in addition to the pain of moving teeth. Braces can also be more expensive than Invisalign and require more maintenance and more appointments. However, there are some cases that can only be treated by traditional brackets and wires. In advanced cases when teeth need to be pulled down a good distance or rotated and turned, it becomes necessary to use wires instead of aligners. In our office, case selection is critical. When a case requires braces, we refer out to an orthodontist who specializes in complex tooth movement to insure that the patient gets the results they need.