Even though orthodontics is a specialty that covers a vast array of treatments, much of our work centers around straightening teeth with braces.
Braces straighten teeth by applying a light, constant pressure to move the teeth into place. The membrane that holds a tooth is stretched on one side and compressed on the other. Because these membranes are delicate and need time to readjust, it is necessarily a slow process, which is why the average treatment time for braces is between one and two years.
Types of braces
Metallic braces – These “traditional” braces are the most common type of braces. The brackets (the squares attached directly to the tooth that holds the wire) are made of either silver or gold alloys. Silver braces are more commonly used than gold braces, but the two metals work equally well. Gold braces are usually chosen by patients who have an aesthetic preference for the look, or an allergy to the alloy used in silver braces.
Clear braces – These tooth-colored braces have brackets that can be made of either ceramic or plastic. Clear braces are less conspicuous than metallic braces and are chosen for cosmetic purposes.
Invisalign – While not technically braces, Invisalign is an invisible orthodontic treatment that uses clear plastic aligners to straighten teeth. It can be a great alternative to metal braces. Obviously, the biggest advantage to using Invisalign is its cosmetic appeal. But clear aligners are also removable, allowing patients to eat, brush and floss as they normally would. For more information, see my Invisalign page.
What’s the best age to get braces?
Good news: It’s never too late to get braces! There is no age limit, and plenty of people (including luminaries from Hollywood to Washington) choose to get braces as adults.
Most people get braces when they are teenagers because that’s when their permanent teeth have fully grown into place. However, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have an orthodontic screening by age 7 to determine whether early treatment would benefit the child.
Early treatment isn’t necessary for every child, but it is sometimes the most effective way to ensure straight teeth and a healthy bite while saving a lot of time and money down the road. I feel very strongly about the subject of early treatment (when to treat early and when to not treat early) and I hope to devote an entire post to the topic soon.
I could go on and on about braces (just ask my lucky husband), and I’ll dive into more particulars in the near future. In the meantime, I’d love to answer your questions about braces, healthy smiles, or anything you’ve wanted to ask an orthodontist in the Columbus, Ohio, area.