Tags: In This Issue, Kids, Pediatric Health
Flashing a silver smile seems to be a rite of passage for many children—and an increasing number of adults who didn't have a "metal mouth" when they were young are choosing to straighten their smiles now. The latest advances in the field of orthodontia make the long process of achieving perfectly aligned teeth more tolerable than ever before.
Traditional braces – with flair
If you had braces as a teen and ever took a class picture with an awkward smirk trying to conceal your metal-covered teeth, you might have viewed the experience differently if you could have "colorized" your smile.
"You can add colored elastic bands now," says Dr. Lindsay Resmer of Resmer Orthodontics in Noblesville. Got school spirit? Sport elastic bands to match your team colors. Is Christmas your favorite holiday? Wear red and green bands all month. Creative rebels, take heart. "Kids have fun picking out outlandish colors," says Dr. Wayne Kinney of Keystone Dentistry in Indianapolis. "We want to make it something that's fun."
Ceramic braces – for less flair
Older teens may reach a point when colored bands are no longer cool. Ceramic braces may be an option for this situation since they are made of clear materials and therefore less visible. However, they do require more maintenance, says Dr. Resmer. "While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and more brittle than their metal counterparts." For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.
'Invisible' lingual braces – hidden, but still there
Lingual braces are hidden behind the teeth, giving the impression that they are invisible. The braces are 100 percent customized to match the shape of your teeth. "Lingual braces are a very reasonable option for athletes, models, actors/actresses, musicians who play instruments and adult professionals," says Resmer.
Invisalign – removable braces
If you don't like the feeling of braces because you can't take them out to brush and floss or you don't like the limitation on certain foods and drinks while wearing them, Invisalign may be the perfect choice for you. Invisalign uses a series of invisible, removable and comfortable aligners—and no one can see that you're wearing them.
"More than 70 percent of orthodontists in the U. S. and Canada are certified to treat with Invisalign," says Resmer. Invisalign is made with 3D computer imaging technology and has been proven as an effective method for straightening teeth.
Invisalign aligners are worn for two weeks, being removed only to eat, drink, brush and floss. For teens that are prone to losing retainers, an added bonus is that they can receive up to six free aligners. As aligners are replaced with the next in the series, teeth move little by little and week to week until they are completely straightened. Typical total treatment time is nine to thirteen months.
"We have a patient who's in his 60s who just used Invisalign," says Resmer. "He loves his smile now."
Greater comfort, wider smiles with the Damon System
The Damon System is a new orthodontic innovation that has greatly improved the quality of patient care as an alternative to traditional braces, according to Dr. Marisa Walker of Walker-Dixon Orthodontics in Fishers. As well, the system is appropriate for all ages.
Light forces along with reduced friction makes the brackets work more efficiently than traditional braces and have dramatically decreased the need for extractions or expanders, Walker says. "The Damon System of brackets offers greater comfort to the patient, less office visits and shorter treatment times." Walker-Dixon Orthodontics, which started using the Damon System in 2005, has "produced extraordinary results and given patients fuller, wider smiles."
A grin from ear to ear
The latest trends in orthodontics offer several ways for patients to achieve their perfect smile. "Everything is all about doing things more efficiently with less cost and better results," says Dr. Kinney, who is excited about how far advancements in orthodontics have come and the continuous improvements being made.
That's something to smile about.