With the developments in orthodontics in recent years, more and more adults are seeking treatment for oral conditions they've been experiencing since childhood. In some cases, they've always had crooked teeth, but their parents couldn't afford to pay for braces when they were growing up.Another reason for seeking orthodontic treatment is the fact that teeth can shift with age - because of injury, a condition called tongue thrust, or natural growth – and some adults find that their previously straight teeth have become crooked and overcrowded. Some people may start experiencing jaw pain, having difficulty with properly cleaning their teeth, or simply facing a smile they find unattractive.
The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to make the best of your teeth, allow you to bite and eat more comfortably, and have healthier gums.
While cosmetic reasons for getting orthodontic treatment are both valid and compelling, they pale in comparison to the oral and physical health reasons for doing so. There are so many health risks that may arise from crooked teeth, overcrowding, overbites or underbites, jaw joint disorders, and incorrect jaw position. Some examples are headaches, earaches, jaw pain, gum and bone erosion, irregular wear of tooth enamel, temporomandibular joint disorders and gastrointestinal problems from inability to chew food properly.
Orthodontic treatment usually involves using braces. Overall, many adults see braces as a worthwhile investment of a few awkward years in exchange for decades of healthy straight teeth.
However, adult patients obviously want the best results, in the shortest amount of time and with the lowest level of discomfort or inconvenience. For that reason, invisible braces are becoming more popular as they are a comfortable and discrete solution for most people. Invisible braces have quickly revolutionised the orthodontics world. Now patients have different options besides the traditional metal brackets. In this article, we are going to introduce you to two of the most popular options – Invisalign and Lingual braces.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a type of orthodontic treatment that helps to straighten teeth without the use of the typical metal braces. It is the virtually invisible way to straighten your teeth and achieve the smile you've always dreamed of.
Invisalign involves wearing a series of custom-made clear plastic aligners that help shift your teeth into the proper position. The aligners are nearly invisible and custom-made specifically for your teeth. They are made of strong medical grade thermoplastic material, uniquely developed for the Invisalign System. No one will even notice that you’re wearing them, making it a seamless fit with your lifestyle and day-to-day interactions with others.
Invisalign moves teeth with an appropriate placement of controlled movement. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign not only controls the amount of movement per aligner, but also the timing of the movement. This means that at each stage, only certain teeth are allowed to move.
As you replace each aligner every two weeks, your teeth will move – little by little, week by week, gradually moving towards the projected final position. Your treatment time will be determined by your specific needs.
Using advanced 3D computer-imaging technology, Invisalign depicts your complete treatment plan based on the initial position of your teeth to the final desired position. Invisalign allows you to see how your smile will look like before you even begin the treatment. This is possible thanks to the unique iTero scan.
Unlike traditional wires and brackets, you can eat whatever you like while in treatment because Invisalign aligners are removable giving you the flexibility to eat and drink what you want during treatment by simply removing them. Thus, there is no need to restrict consuming any of your favourite foods and snacks.
Maintaining a good oral hygiene is also easier because you can remove the aligners to brush and floss as you normally would. Tt is essential to brush and floss the teeth after each meal and prior to re-inserting the aligners to maintain proper hygiene. The best way to clean the aligners is by brushing and rinsing them in lukewarm water and using the Invisalign Cleaning Crystals or special cleaning tablets.
And finally, because unlike traditional fixed braces, there are no metal brackets or wires, you will spend less time at your dental practice for adjustments.
What are lingual braces?
Lingual braces are one of the invisible braces options that your orthodontist may have to offer.
For the most part, they look like conventional dental braces that have been mounted on the backside (lingual, tongue side) of your teeth. This hides them from view, making them unnoticeable to others. Because they are placed behind the teeth (by the tongue and palate), rather than in front, they make a great cosmetic alternative for those who want their teeth straightened, without the braces showing.
Especially for adults, the invisibility of Lingual Braces is very important in work and social situations to ensure confidence.
This type of braces function in exactly the same way as other, more traditional fixed braces but while they work just as effectively, most of the heavy-duty metal work is concealed.
Just like traditional braces, lingual braces work by applying gentle yet continuous pressure on the teeth, to help them slowly shift into proper position. The treatment can take anywhere from 18-36 months, depending on the severity of a patient's orthodontic condition.
On your first consultation, the orthodontist takes impressions of your teeth using a plastic mould. This mould is then sent to a laboratory where customised brackets will be made. On the second one, cement will be applied to the back of the teeth to set the brackets in place. Finally, the orthodontist installs the arch wire, which provides the gentle tension that keeps on pulling the teeth into place.
You should be able to eat normally but you will have to avoid sticky toffees or chewing gum. No hard foods like crunchy apples or crusty bread either. Fizzy drinks and too much fruit juice can harm the braces as well.
Lingual braces might irritate the tongue and cause it to become tender at the beginning of the treatment. This is a normal and temporary situation and using wax against the lower teeth to cover the braces can help alleviate this soreness. Some people can also find speaking clearly and enunciating more difficult at the beginning. With enough practice, wearers get used to the feel of the braces on the backs of their teeth, and everything goes back to normal.
Professional dental cleanings every six months are critical to a patient's health with lingual braces. Because Lingual Braces are attached to the back of your teeth, food can more easily become trapped there. Daily dental habits such as brushing twice a day and flossing daily will also prevent plaque build-up and tooth decay.
Once the active phase of the treatment has been finished, it is also necessary to wear a retaining brace. This may be removable or it may be fixed behind the teeth.
As usual, you will find out more by asking your dentist or your orthodontist.
Invisalign vs lingual braces – What’s best for me?
Now that you know the differences between these two great options for straightening your teeth in an invisible way, you might be wondering what’s the best option for you. Well, in the end, it is up to you and your orthodontist to decide which is the best treatment for your individual case.