This is a question that we get asked all the time! So who better to ask than Dr. Nic Anderson?!
“Over the years we have used all the different approaches to straightening and aligning teeth. The treatment options we offer a patient depend on the severity of the situation, the patient’s age and the patient’s primary concerns.
The most common treatment we recommend is to use removable orthodontic plates to first develop the shape of the jaws as this makes room for all the adult teeth and prevents the need for adult teeth to be extracted.
There is normally a huge improvement with just these plates but depending on the severity of the problem and the patient’s age [the younger the better!] we will then use braces to correctly align the teeth.
If we do need to use braces our goal is to have these off within 9-12 months as this is just the final cosmetic alignment of the teeth.
The main reason for teeth being crooked or crowded is due to the jaws being underdeveloped or too small for all of the adult teeth.
There are a number of reasons why the jaws may not have grown to their full potential (These will be covered in a later post!) but we find the best results are achieved when the jaws are widened with plates as it results in not only straight teeth but also a broad, natural smile.
By removing adult teeth, the problem of underdeveloped or small jaws is not being addressed; we always prefer to treat the cause and not the symptom.
There are several benefits to using removable orthodontic plates:
- They can be used at a younger age than braces since we do not need to wait for all the adult teeth to be present to begin treatment.
- Using plates can prevent the need for adult teeth extractions.
- If treatment is started young enough, it makes treatment much simpler.
- Simpler treatment means less time and less money!
We have successfully treated children as young as 4 and 5 years of age with these plates and they will probably not require any further treatment when they are older.
The other common orthodontic techniques are braces and clear aligners, such as Invisalign or ClearCorrect.
Using braces is the most common orthodontic treatment as they are very good at straightening teeth, however they are not as good for creating room for crowded teeth.
If the orthodontic treatment only involves braces, you may need to reduce the size of the teeth (called Interproximal Reduction, or IPR) or have several teeth extracted to allow space for the teeth to be straightened.
A newer type of braces called “Self-ligating” braces can expand the jaws to make room for the teeth and then align the teeth meaning that they reduce need the for IPR or teeth extractions.
We frequently use these and although they work better than traditional braces, our preference is still to widen the jaws with plates first and then use braces to finish.
This results in treatment progressing quicker and the braces not having to be on for as long.
We offer our patients who do require braces the option of clear or tooth-colour braces.
These work much the same as the standard metal braces, except the treatment time can be slightly longer as they are not quite as good at detailing the tooth positions.
They are also slightly bulkier than metal braces and despite the tooth colour, they are still somewhat visible. While some patients do opt for these, most prefer to have quicker treatment with metal braces, even adults are comfortable with these due to us aiming to get the braces off within 9-12 months and adults wearing braces nowadays doesn’t carry quite the negative connotations as it once did!
Invisalign has become a popular teeth-straightening treatment over the past 10 years due to being a true, clear alternative and technology that the treatment is based on is highly impressive. We offer our patients the choice between Invisalign and another brand called ClearCorrect.
In our experience, clear aligners such as Invisalign and ClearCorrect are a little slower and the treatment cost is slightly higher.
Just as with braces, it is difficult to relieve issues related to crowding so the treatment often requires IPR or some teeth to be extracted to create space to straighten the teeth.
Again, when we do this treatment we may suggest first widening the jaws a little with plates to improve the final result.
Therefore, in summary my response to the question above would be that my opinion of the best way to straighten teeth, for the majority of patients is to use removable orthodontic plates to expand the size of the jaws, followed by braces for 9-12 months in order to correctly align the teeth.
However, in saying this, we do and will cater the treatment around what our patients want and on their expectations.”
Well there we have it! If you have any questions regarding the information in this post, please feel free contact us.