What is orthodontics?
We are sure that most of you are aware of what is the orthodonticsThe branch of dentistry that seeks to improve the occlusion and alignment of the teeth by preventing and correcting alterations in the shape and position of both the dental arches and the jaws.
The occlusion in turn is based on the contact relationships that exist between the teeth of different arches, i.e. the bite. We could therefore conclude, plainly and simply, that orthodontics is concerned with aligning our teeth in order to provide us with the best possible bite given our personal circumstances.
Although the vast majority of people when they think of orthodontics tend to think of the aesthetic reasons that lead us to want aligned and perfect teeth, malocclusion is associated with a multitude of problems, including headaches, problems in the jaw joints that can worsen over time, bruxism... and a long etcetera. In fact, there are many patients who report some of these problems, but do not associate them to a dental problem and they don't know what orthodontics can do to improve their quality of life in this respect.
Another of the errors that have been implanted in the collective subconscious when talking about orthodontics is to automatically associate it with traditional braces or brackets and to those times when the school playgrounds were full of classmates with those '...'.metallic smiles'. In fact, orthodontics has come a long way, and continues to do so, and many more options are now available besides the traditional '...'.apparatus'.
Here are the details of the types of equipment that can help you get your smile and your bite perfect.
Types of orthodontics
- Metal bracketsBraces: These are what we know as "brackets for life" and are the first thing we think of when we hear the term "orthodontics". They are attached to the outside of each and every one of the teeth and joined by bands to generate a movement that moves all the teeth in the desired direction. Treatment with braces is usually associated with increased inflammation and bleeding gums, among other complications, as it often makes hygiene difficult. This is why it is necessary to keep a strict control with toothbrushing, mouthwashes, dental floss and interproximal brushes. These brackets can be uncomfortable due to the area in which they are located. On the other hand, many orthodontists have more experience with this type of system, as they have been using it almost all their professional lives, and do not require any type of involvement from the patient beyond that of attending their check-ups.
- Aesthetic bracketsThey are similar to the previous ones, but they are made of materials such as ceramic, zirconium or even sapphire crystal, which makes them much less noticeable. Therefore, the difference with traditional braces is fundamentally aesthetic, although it is true that metal brackets are also more resistant.
- Lingual bracesBraces are another of the more modernised versions of braces. They are placed on the inside of the teeth (closest to the tongue, hence the nomenclature) and have the advantage that they are not visible when smiling, which leads many patients to prefer them to traditional braces. The disadvantages in terms of check-ups, hygiene and feeding are virtually identical to those of traditional brackets, and several patients have also reported difficulties in speaking normally (due to the tongue rubbing against the brackets), except that they are more difficult to reach, so cleaning them may require a little more effort and adaptation at first. However, they combine two advantages of fixed and removable orthodontics that lead many patients to prefer them: aesthetics, as they are not visible unless we want to show them to someone next to the inside of our mouth, and the lack of commitment required from the patient in terms of treatment, as they will simply have to attend their check-ups.
- Invisible alignersPlastic sleeves are made to measure for each patient and change shape, exerting pressure on the teeth and bringing them into the desired position. As a general rule, they are changed every week. During the process of plastic orthodontics, what are called attachments are placed on several teeth, which optimise the progress of the treatment. This type of treatment, the most modern of those mentioned, has several advantages over the rest, but of course those relating to the patient's normal life stand out. It is a much less painful orthodontic treatment than the rest, it allows you to continue eating as usual (because you remove the aligners), your dental hygiene habits do not change or become more complicated, and the check-ups are every 6 or 8 weeks. On the other hand, the great disadvantage that is often pointed out by a very specific type of patient is that it requires a proactive commitment on the part of the person involved. In other words, if you don't wear your aligners for the required time per day (about 22 hours), the treatment will not work at the expected or desired pace.
And after orthodontics...what?
One of the questions we are most often asked by patients before starting orthodontic treatment (but also during and some on several occasions during the process) is "what about afterwards? The truth is that the 'after' usually depends on many factors, including the initial and final position of the teeth, the occlusion, the existence of any gum disease, whether or not the patient is in a period of growth... Furthermore, the use of retainers after orthodontic treatment is something on which there is still no broad scientific consensus, so that the opinions of one professional to another may vary even in the same case.
In any case, if you would like to know more about the use of fixed retainers after orthodontic treatment, we recommend that you read this blog post.
Vélez & Lozano, experts in orthodontics
In our Dental Clinic in Murcia we are experts in the use of all types of orthodontics, and pioneers when it comes to implementing the most modern methods, such as lingual orthodontics and invisible aligners. With regard to the latter field, in fact, we have the distinction of having the DiamondInvisalign, the world's leading manufacturer of clear aligners, recognises that our centre is among those with the most experience and qualifications for treating patients with this method.
Author: Dr. Sara Pérez Díaz