Orthodontics is the dental specialty or branch of dentistry which treats the prevention and correction of irregularities in the teeth and jaws. Orthodontic treatments like braces help move teeth that are crooked or that do not fit together correctly. By fixing these problems, orthodontics can also help keep your mouth healthy. Crooked teeth can be harder to clean, putting you at risk for cavities and gum disease. Put simply, orthodontics can straighten your teeth, correct your bite and can improve your facial profile (shape).
What can I do to get straighter teeth?
Orthodontic treatment has become more and more accessible in recent years, and the methods of teeth straightening are progressing dramatically with technological developments, creating an entire experience that is quicker, more effective and less invasive than in the past. These include:
Metal Braces/Traditional Braces
These are the metal brackets and wires that most people picture when they hear the word "braces." However, modern brackets are smaller and less noticeable than the notorious "metal-mouth" braces that many adults remember.
Ceramic braces are the same size and shape as metal braces, except that they have tooth-coloured or clear brackets that blend into teeth. Some even use tooth-coloured wires to be even less noticeable.
Lingual braces are the same as traditional metal braces, except that the brackets and wires are placed on the inside (back) of teeth.
Invisalign consists of a series of custom-made, mouth guard-like clear plastic aligners. The aligners are removable and are replaced every 2 weeks.
This is a very basic description of current orthodontic processes. With constantly updating technologies incorporating 3D imaging and specialised software to calculate and computerise the end result of orthodontic treatment, helping both patients and orthodontists choose the best and most effective treatment has never been easier!
Do I need an orthodontist to straighten my teeth?
Orthodontists are specialists in their field. They have completed both a general dentistry degree and a master's degree in orthodontics (an additional three-year course at university). An orthodontist only performs orthodontic treatment which means that they have more experience and a higher level of knowledge because this is what they do all day, every day. Some general dentists are qualified to perform Invisalign and fit braces. These dentists have undertaken additional professional training and studies to be able to provide orthodontic solutions in some cases. Modern technology has also simplified the process of applying braces, having a computer design each bracket and a laboratory manufacture it to specification. Speak to your dentist if you are interested in straightening your teeth and they will be able to work with you on the best treatment solution for you and if necessary will organise a referral to an orthodontist.