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Straightening Your Smile with Braces and Invisalign

Posted on September 9, 2013 by Dr. Mal Braverman

Braces and Invisalign are two methods to correct teeth that are crooked. Either one can help when a bite is misaligned, whether it’s an overbite, where the upper jaw extends too far forward, or an underbite, where the jaw sticks out past the upper teeth. Either of those conditions can be bad for the jaw when chewing, because they cause tension and possibly even damage. Also, if the bite gets worse over time, it can cause breathing problems. Correcting the bite by realigning the teeth is the best way to solve these problems.

Sometimes, people get braces or Invisalign for aesthetic improvements and not because they absolutely need it. If the teeth are moderately crooked, they probably won’t cause any long-term problems with the jaw. Nevertheless, people still want to straighten the teeth in order to create a prettier smile.

How do Braces Work?

An orthodontist places a bracket on each tooth that needs to be moved. The bracket is a small rectangle made of metal, ceramic or possibly even glass that attaches to the tooth with dental adhesive and has a slot in the front. An arch wire is threaded through each slot, so that it will put pressure on the teeth and slowly pull them in the direction they need to go in order to become straight. The wire can be changed over time as the patient acclimates to the discomfort, going from lighter and thinner wire to heavier. The orthodontist will also bend the wire over time to fine tune the realignment. Sometimes, a dentist will use elastic bands to add pressure to pull the jaw or teeth into a desired position.

The process is very slow, and the pressure applied to the teeth is actually pretty light. This enables the tissues and bone around the teeth to grow and support the new tooth positions. Otherwise, the patient might loosen his or her teeth too much and end up losing them. After the braces are removed, a retainer is used for a while to keep the teeth in their new positions as the surrounding bone grows stronger.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Invisalign is a set of clear aligners that fit over the teeth. It is custom molded to your mouth, so that it puts pressure on your teeth in the right direction. Each aligner is designed to be a little bit straighter, so you switch them out over time as your teeth move.

This has certain advantages over braces. They are almost invisible, so they are less conspicuous. This is a big reason why many people choose Invisalign. It is easier to eat certain foods with Invisalign. Plus, you can remove the device whenever you want, and the smooth plastic is less likely to injure the inside of your mouth. Also, it requires fewer visits over a shorter period of time. However, there are still certain situations where traditional braces are better. It is important to consult an orthodontist to make the best decision for each particular situation.

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