When we perform an orthodontics treatment, we can straighten teeth, expand palates and correct a patient’s bite. These are all important stages for creating the perfect smile. Many people think about teeth becoming straight but forget about the other steps that must be completed. If you are considering getting braces, here is what you need to know.
Before you start the process, you need to make sure that your teeth are healthy. By cleaning and examining your teeth, we can identify and treat any signs of infection or cavities. It is easier to treat teeth and gums before the braces are installed, and this will prevent the infection from spreading.
The next phase is to make sure that there is enough room in your mouth for your existing teeth. Many children and adults suffer from overcrowding because their palate is too small. This is common with kids that lose their baby teeth too soon. Since the adult teeth aren’t ready to come in yet, the baby teeth start to move and shift which can close the space that was supposed to be reserved for the new adult tooth. In order to deal with this, teeth either have to be pulled, or we have to expand the palate. Using a palate expander is a common orthodontics treatment where we place a metal piece on the roof of your mouth and secure it to your teeth. Every day for several weeks, the expander needs to be turned, and as it does, it will expand slightly in order to push teeth outwards. Over time, your palate expands, and more room is made for your teeth. They will naturally start to move into place as a result. Some kids even use this procedure without the need for future braces.
Once there is room for all of your teeth, they can start moving into the right position. This can be done using clear aligners or metal braces. With metal braces a bracket is placed onto each one of your teeth and a wire is threaded between them. On visits, the wire will be adjusted or tightened so that the teeth can move that much closer to their designated spot. This happens slowly and steadily in order to keep patients comfortable.
At the same time that teeth are moving into place, we will start to align your bite. This is important for preventing headaches, making it easy to eat, and eliminating some of the TMJ symptoms that can be caused by a misaligned jaw. We can often achieve this by stringing rubber bands from the top bracket to a lower one so that the jaw is held into position for long enough to retrain it. Once your jaw has been held in place for long enough, it will stay in that position on its own. We may also need to use headgear and other orthodontics treatments as necessary.
Each situation is different so to find out the best course of treatment for your teeth, give us a call.
Dr. Eric Vanek, d.d.s
Eric has been a practicing dental surgeon for over 20 years and is the owner of Vanek Dentistry, a family dental practice in Costa Mesa, CA.
Published October 20, 2014. Updated August 17, 2021