The age old story
The most common adult patients we see in our practice are those who had braces as a teenager, wore their retainers for a few years and then lost track of them at some point in college. Unfortunately our teeth are never static – they’re constantly changing and the previously corrected crowding or spacing generally returns and becomes more visible at some point in our late 20’s and 30’s. Our patients will often refer to a recent photo of themselves and say, “I never realized it had gotten so bad until I saw this picture!” Or sometimes our patients will walk in with an old retainer that they’ll try to force on their teeth periodically – which will often do more harm than good! Excess intermittent pressure from an ill-fitting retainer can damage your teeth and gums. A good retainer should fit passively to hold your teeth straight, they aren’t designed to force your teeth back to your teenage straight smile.
However many of our patients are generally busy, active young professionals who don’t want to go through years of braces again. And they want their teeth perfectly straight as soon as possible with minimal visibility.
How to get there
What are the best options these days? Your best options are primarily dependent on your specific malocclusion (bite) and the severity of the dental relapse. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of your treatment alternatives during your initial consultation. Remember that the treatment options presented to you are customized for your teeth and your specific bite.
Metal or Clear Braces
Quite often I still recommend standard metal braces (stainless steel) or clear (ceramic) braces to most efficiently treat with optimal results. Braces allow us to control each tooth in all three dimensions with the most precision and efficiency (reduced treatment time). Treatment time is generally the shortest and costs are the lowest for our patients. (Our clear brackets (Radiance) are by American Orthodontics – they offer optimal translucency, and the smallest bracket size with high durability.)
Lingual brackets are another great option especially for certain mild relapse cases. We place lingual brackets behind your teeth to correct the crowding or close the spacing. While these “hidden” braces may take some getting used to since the lower lingual braces are adjacent to the tongue and create some initial irritation, they are nearly completely invisible to everyone else. (Read more about the brands of lingual braces we use here and here.)
Invisalign is another popular option among our patients since the trays are removable enabling easy hygiene and maintenance throughout treatment. We do still have to bond clear attachments (composite buttons) onto select teeth to which the trays engage, otherwise it’s a very esthetic option. The control of the teeth generally isn’t as precise or as efficient as with braces- however for mild relapse cases Invisalign is an excellent option – especially if you tend to clench or grind, as the trays protect the enamel of your teeth and can alleviate some TMD symptoms.
Depending on your case we may discuss an option to start your treatment with a fixed appliance like braces or an expander, and then finish with Invisalign – giving you the efficiency of fixed appliances and the esthetics of Invisalign for the remainder of your treatment. This is a popular option among our patients since they get the best of both worlds – limiting their time in treatment and finishing with optimal results.
What Sets Us Apart
Our specialty at King Street Dental Wellness Center is in working with and accommodating the needs and lifestyles of our busy adult patients while delivering excellent results with efficiency. Our practice provides individualized patient care in a modern, private and spa-like environment-likely not reminiscent of your childhood orthodontics experience. Orthodontics not only gives the benefit of a beautiful straight smile but dental and periodontal health are also enhanced due to improved dental function, reduced wear, and improved oral hygiene that accompanies dental alignment. I hope this post helped to clarify the best options available to you if you’re considering orthodontics. I’m happy to answer any further questions specific to your case during your initial consultation.