Orthodontic treatment, consisting primarily of braces orclear aligners, is all about moving your teeth in the correct position.
There is a lot of planning that is involved in the prescription of treatment with braces, but to simplify it, braces simply involve sticking little brackets to the outside of each of your teeth and then tying a pre-shaped wire into each of those brackets. The wire, which was bent and pushed into each bracket, wants to return to its original shape. As it does that, it pulls the teeth with it bringing them into alignment. As the teeth get closer to their ideal positions, thicker wires that can finetune the position are put in. Once your teeth are in the ideal position, the brackets are removed and retainers are made to ensure your teeth don’t relapse back towards their original position.
Braces have been straightening teeth for many decades and while they don’t look as good as clear aligners, theyare better in certain situations. One of the main advantages with braces is that they are stuck on to the teeth, so we’re not relying on a sometimes forgetful child to wear them. For this reason, braces are usually ideal for orthodontic treatment in children, as compliance is ensured.
The popularity of clear aligners, or sequential aligners, has exploded in recent years. You have probably heard of Invisalign, which is one of the companies that provides clear aligners. The theory of moving the teeth with clear aligners is the same as braces, but the modality is different. Where braces and wires tend to pull teeth into their ideal position, clear aligners tend to push more.
With clear aligners your treatment is digitally designed and simulated so we can visualise not only the result, but every step along the way. Once we are happy with the design, the aligners are made. There is a pair of aligners (upper and lower) manufactured for each step of the process. Treatment is then basically a process of working through each aligner for 1-2 weeks at a time. Each aligner will move the teeth towards their final position a little bit, before switching to the next aligner which will move them a little bit further, and so on.
Aligners should be worn for at least 22 hours a day, which means outside of eating and cleaning, they should be in all the day, including at night. While aligners may make it easier to clean and eat as they can be removed, it also relies on constant wear to be effective, and compliance is often poor in younger children and teenagers. For this reason clear aligners are usually ideal for highly motivated teenagers and adultswho appreciate the almost invisible appearance.
Any time you move a tooth, whether with braces or aligners, there is a natural tendency for them to want to relapse back towards their original position. While it is unlikely they will ever go back 100%, any movement away from the finished result will be disappointing to the patient and/or their parents! For this reason, retainers are critical.
Fixed retainers are wires that are bonded onto the inside of the teeth. Most typically these are placed behind the lower front teeth, but sometimes are placed on the upper front teeth as well. It is important to clean around these retainers well so decay or inflammation in the gums does not occur. These are great in that they are in all the time and so will always be holding those teeth.
Removable retainers are made of a hard plastic and are designed to be worn at night. When worn consistently at night,they will hold the teeth in place and stop them from moving ever moving too far. If retainers are not worn for a period of time, they might become really tight or not fit at all. Once they have moved to the point where the aligners won’t fit, there is little to do to get them back to their ideal position without further orthodontic treatment.
Remember, you don’t need to wear your retainers for life, just for as long as you want your teeth to stay straight! if you had any further questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on (07) 3379 1328