The Latest in [Tooth] Straighteners
Last Updated on
UPDATED: 08 – 05 – 18
The number of adults getting tooth-straightening treatment with the latest technology increasing. The progress of dental technology has made several options available. Here we discuss the latest and greatest of the new breed of invisible and ceramic braces.
Standard metal tooth straighteners are stainless-steel wires secured to the teeth with ligatures, usually plastic, to metal brackets bonded to the front surface of the teeth. While not at all cheap, they are usually the least expensive option. Metallics irritate gums and cheeks at first, and patients must avoid caramels, gum, and any foods that can stick to them. Hard foods can move or dislodge them.
Brushing or flossing is no fun, and the mouth feels unpleasant during the adjustment period. As ligatures secure the wire against the brackets, visits to the orthodontist every few weeks are necessary for ligature removal, wire tightening, and ligature replacement.
New Breed of Tooth Straighteners
Ceramic tooth straighteners are updated metallic with ceramic brackets fixed to the teeth. Composed of translucent or enamel-colored materials, ceramics are less conspicuous to casual observers than shiny metal. The brackets are available with enamel-colored wire that makes them blend in more inconspicuously.
The brackets may be translucent, but the ligatures usually are latex, which stains easily, so the straighteners are by no means invisible. Translucence is not transparency. Ceramics can make white and bright teeth look dingy in a yellow, discolored way. Ceramic brackets are larger and more brittle than metal. Ceramics cost more than stainless steel versions, but they blend in with the teeth so they aren’t as noticeable. Clear elastic or white metal ties are available to secure them in place.
Though the straighteners don’t stain, the ties discolor easily, especially with drinks like coffee, which typically stains teeth. The orthodontist replaces the ties with every straightening adjustment, usually every month. Ceramics can break or chip easily. They require more maintenance and more time to install than do metallics, increasing overall treatment time and cost.
Lingual tooth straighteners are wires and metal brackets at first glance invisible because they are custom fits on the backside of the teeth. Like all fixed devices, they’re best for patients with moderately to severely crowded teeth or spaces between them. Because the hardware is behind the teeth, they’re virtually invisible when the patient smiles, but they tend to be more expensive than conventional devices and difficult to install and to keep clean.
Linguals don’t work well on small teeth and tend to obstruct movements of the tongue, so patients have to practice speaking with them. Their presence causes initial tongue discomfort and interference with speech. Some patients complain of slurring as if inebriated. They cost more than metallics or ceramics because the more complex process requires skillful orthodontists to install them, and not every practitioner is so skillful.
These resemble regular braces but differ in the brackets. Regular tooth straighteners need ligatures or ties around bracket hooks to keep the wire taut against the teeth. Self-ligating brackets have built-in clips for the wire. These are easier than are traditional metallics or linguals to clean. Regular brace ligatures can trap food bits that get stuck in them. The self-ligating bracket surface is smoother and less irritating to the mouth.
Orthodontist visits are shorter with no need to remove and replace ligatures with each adjustment of the wire around the teeth. There are fewer appointments and less overall time wearing them. Ligatures that restrict wire slippage through the brackets and movement of the teeth shift incrementally along the wire into position. The wire slides more easily and continuously through the brackets of self-ligating straighteners as the teeth shift, reducing the need for adjustments and the accompanying discomfort and the time the process takes.
Some orthodontists say titanium wire, an alternative to stainless steel, reduces straightening time and concomitant pain and discomfort further. Titanium stretches farther and returns gradually to its original shape. Stainless steel wires tightened as much as the titanium would cause pain of some intensity. If the patient smiles, everybody sees the braces. Self-ligating braces are never invisible. They take considerable time for fully comfortable adjustment to the mouth.
Invisalign are clear, molded plastic trays that fit over the teeth through each straightening stage of about two weeks. The number of trays or aligners depends on the amount of straightening needed.
Almost undetectable when worn, their smooth plastic shouldn’t irritate mouth tissue. There may be some aches as the teeth start shifting with each set of aligners, but adjusting to their presence usually doesn’t take long. Keeping them clean is easy because they’re removable for brushing and flossing. Users must remove them before eating. Dentists say this bracing device is what adult patients in the market for bracing ask about most.
This particular option may not be the best selection for patients in need of major tooth straightening. Because they are custom manufactures and not stock items, there is waiting time between fittings and deliveries. Patients who lose or damage their aligners and require replacements also must wait because orthodontists cannot replace them immediately. Invisalign also usually cost more than other types of adult dental straightener.
What the AAO Says
The goal of orthodontic treatment is a beautiful smile and a good bite, straight teeth that mesh well with the opposite jaw and look great. A good bite makes biting, chewing, and speaking easier. A beautiful smile adds to self-esteem and self-confidence. In a competitive world, a great smile can be a distinct advantage.
Orthodontic treatment when necessary is an important part of comprehensive dental health. With good care, including orthodontic treatment when necessary, teeth can last a lifetime. Treatment in children or teenagers still growing may yield results perhaps no longer possible after the face and jaws complete their formative development.
Schedule an appointment
If you are seeking out tooth straighteners for treatment for a smile that is not quite up to your own satisfaction, do not hesitate to reach out to the orthodontic clinic at Nease & Higginbotham. They are some of the top orthodontists, and they work with people who are interested in Invisalign braces. They give you the individualized attention that you are looking for when you are trying to create the perfect smile. Set up an appointment with Dr. Nease for Invisalign and many other devices today. Dr. Nease and Dr. Higginbotham will be glad to help you or your child feel good. Contact us today – We Create Smiles for the Upstate.
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Nease and Higginbotham Orthodontics
2455 E. Main Street
Spartanburg, SC 29307
Dr Nease graduated as Valedictorian from Cocke County (TN) High School in 1988 and graduated from the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!) in 1992. He then attended the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in Memphis, TN, where he earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree as Valedictorian of his graduating class in 1996. He remained at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry for his orthodontic training, and received his Master of Dental Science (MDS) degree in June of 1999. He immediately joined the practice of Dr. Phil Higginbotham in Spartanburg, beginning a wonderful professional relationship and friendship that endures today.