Once upon a time, braces were the only option for straightening teeth, they can be uncomfortable and treatment takes a long time and while the unsightly metal tracks may have once appealed to pre-teens in the ‘90s – with their colourful elastics – life in the 2020s demanded a more discreet and faster approach to orthodontics and dentistry has met those demands. At a dentist in Sydney patients have multiple options that can fix crooked teeth and malocclusions, giving people of all ages a wide range of choice for their orthodontic care.
What are malocclusions?
Malocclusions are the malformation of the jaw which affect the bite and subsequently the teeth, the way the teeth are aligned and how the upper arch fits into the lower arch is called occlusion. Ideally, a perfectly aligned bite is when the back top and bottom molars fit snugly into one another so that the upper teeth can do their job by preventing people from biting their cheeks and the lower teeth likewise protect the tongue.
The teeth should not have gaps in between each other and should fit snugly next to one another without any crowding. It is often found that malocclusions and crooked teeth are hereditary, but sometimes they can be due to birth defects (like cleft lip and palate) or bad habits that can form them. Childhood habits – using a pacifier past the age of 3, extended bottle feeding, or even thumb-sucking may form issues with the bite later on as well as the position of the teeth. These problems can be picked up fairly early on and if a child sees a dentist regularly, by the ages of around 7-9 years old it can be determined whether or not an orthodontic treatment will be necessary during adolescence while the jaw and teeth are still forming and before they’ve settled into adulthood.
There can be various other causes of malocclusions: injuries can result in misalignment and even fractures to the jaw; tumours in the jaw or mouth; missing teeth or extra teeth; and even ill-fitting fillings, crowns, retainers from poor previous dental practices.
- Traditional braces – by securing metal brackets to the teeth, a wire which is set at a particular tension can be connected to the teeth thus pulling them slowly in place over time. This treatment can last 2 years in some cases.
- Invisible Braces – the treatment uses the same concept as traditional braces except that the brackets are fitted to the back of the teeth and not the front, making them much less obvious.
- Clear Braces – a good option for adults with complex misalignments; the brackets are fitted to the front of the teeth but they are either tooth-coloured porcelain or clear which means that it is much less noticeable than a metal bracket.
- Invisalign– by using 3D digital scanning technology and a computer algorithm to calculate the way a patient’s teeth will move over time this treatment uses clear aligners to shift the teeth in increments by pushing them into place instead of pulling. This option is invisible, barely noticeable and works much faster than traditional braces do.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second
opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.