Luckily, punishing ourselves and our teeth by imprisoning them behind bars for a couple of years until they learn to go straight, is no longer the only option available when it comes to straightening teeth. Though metal braces still play their part, today our Richmond cosmetic dentistry centre fortunately offers other methods of that can be less obvious and unsightly, but still extremely effective.
The aesthetic benefits of having straight teeth are obvious: they are right there in the beauty of your smile.
Far more than beauty
However, the importance of straightening crooked or misaligned teeth is about far more than that. It also involves how well your teeth and jaws function, and avoiding oral health problems which can ultimately affect the teeth, gums and even the surrounding bone.
Straight teeth and proper alignment mean a good bite, which not only affects the way we chew, but also how we talk. Wear and tear happens more evenly throughout, and it is easier to clean your teeth properly so there is less likelihood of bacteria and plaque build-up which leads to cavities, gum disease and bad breath. The chance of headaches, jaw pain and bad habits like grinding and clenching developing are lessened.
Types of misalignment
Gaps and crowding:
Gaps between your teeth can develop because of teeth shifting to fill open spaces left by missing teeth, or because the jawbone continues to grow. The lack of protection for the gun normally offered by teeth can lead to gum disease.
Your teeth crowd together when your jaw is too small to accommodate all of them. It can result in very crooked teeth, which makes cleaning your teeth very difficult. This, in turn, makes it hard to avoid plaque build-up and the resultant tooth decay, and increases the chance of gum disease.
Overbites, Underbites, Openbites and Crossbites:
These are problems with how the top and bottom teeth make (or don’t make) contact with one another. Bite irregularities can lead to abnormal functioning, unbalanced wear and tear and irregular tooth growth, as well as pain in the jaw and the thermo-mandibular joint that joins the jaw to the skull.
Options for straightening your teeth
Your dentist will guide you in the choice of which method to use to straighten your teeth. Alternatives range from bonded add-ons. like veneers or composite bonding, to dental surgery and various bracing options.
- Veneers: An aesthetic solution to the problem, these thin shells of composite resin or porcelain are fitted over crooked teeth to mask the problem.
- Composite bonding, one of the least invasive methods, involves attaching composite resin to the crooked teeth to fill or shape them.
- Contouring or reshaping of teeth is done using a sanding drill or a laser. The dentist sculpts the teeth into a more acceptable shape by removing some of the enamel.
- Metal Braces: The original style of braces are still the most commonly used approach to straightening teeth. Pressure is exerted on the teeth by brackets, arch wire and elastic, to move them in a certain direction. The process takes time – you may have to wear them for two or three years. A bit unsightly, these braces are the cheapest option.
- Lingual braces are applied to the back of the tooth and can hardly be seen from the front. Wires are gradually tightened to straighten the teeth.
- Damon Braces: More comfortable and with quicker results than other braces, they use a friction free method to straighten teeth. They also cause less irritation as there are no elastic ties.
- Invisalign uses a system of invisible aligners which can be removed for eating and cleaning your teeth. In more severe cases, they may not be as effective as other braces.
- Inman Aligner: Cheaper and quicker than invisalign bracing, this method of alignment does use wires, but is not as obtrusive as traditional braces and is removable.
- Teeth straightening surgery is used mainly in cases where the overbite or underbite is fairly serious or the jaw is not in the correct position. It is done under local anaesthesia.