Many of us wish that Invisalign® was the right orthodontic solution for our tooth alignment problems, but the reality is that Invisalign® has limitations that mean it isn’t the right solution for every mouth. Since Invisalign® aligners are transparent, they are easily lost and therefore not recommended for use in children. And while traditional braces are adaptable for use in every bite class, Invisalign® simply isn’t up to the task of aligning complex malocclusion. The good news is that new technologies are lowering the visual profile of braces, offering the same result with less surface area.
Traditional braces used a series of brackets bonded to the surface of each tooth to hold archwires along the dental arches, with elastics around each bracket.
MacEwan Dental is proud to offer SPEED® braces at our clinic. These braces are known as self-ligating braces, meaning that they don’t require elastics to hold them in place. They do this by using super-elastic clips which are programmable in terms of the force they put on the teeth and clip shut using energy stored in a ‘spring clip’. The absence of elastics render these braces one-third smaller than traditional braces, and since SPEED® braces offer less surface area, they are easier to clean.
How Braces Work
SPEED® braces, like traditional braces, work to move the teeth into an ideal formation gradually over a period of time by exerting a force against them. Teeth respond to the pressure by slowly moving away from it. As pressure erodes one side of each bone socket that encases the tooth’s root, osteoclasts and osteoblasts (special cells) go to work eroding one side of the socket and reinforcing the other. Over time, concessions in the bone are seen as a tooth moving into proper alignment.
For this reason, it is critical to follow a regular adjustment schedule with your dentist. Skipping adjustments means a period of no progress in treatment. Continuous pressure in the right places will ensure that you achieve the result that you and your dentist discussed.
If you find yourself skipping adjustments due to the discomfort that they can cause in the first day or two following, there are some ways to help. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are useful following an adjustment and can be alternated with pain control medications such as acetaminophen. It is helpful to consume cold drinks such as ice water to help ease the inflammation from the inside as well, which can be alternated with applying a cold pack to the outside of the cheeks. If there are lesions in the mouth, consider placing a piece of chewing gum or dental wax over the offending bracket until you can see the dentist to alleviate this. Bear in mind that the period of discomfort should not last more than a day or two following your adjustment. If you are finding your schedule too rigorous, we recommend telling your dentist right away so that together you can plan for a solution.
Eating with Braces
Since it is still possible to catch and dislodge the brackets on SPEED® braces with careless eating, we recommend eating slowly and consciously at first, until you are comfortable with the sensation. Avoid eating anything hard or crunchy such as potato chips or corn chips, since hard foods can dislodge the braces under bite forces. Biting into foods rather than portioning them on your plate should be avoided since the flesh of an apple or a cobb of corn could not only put your braces at risk but will lead to food debris stuck in the braces until you can clean them after a meal.
Sticky candies and treats can get around the teeth and create a vacuum that pulls the brackets and wires away from the teeth while chewing. Avoid gummies and toffees for this reason and consider an alternative such as chocolate for its delicious and dissolving properties.
Caring for Braces
Braces treatment requires the commitment of the patient to ensure the health of their teeth and gums while wearing braces. After all, what good would it be to have a beautifully aligned smile if all of your teeth were discolored and affected by decay and gingivitis once the braces were removed? Oral hygiene with braces takes some work, but within a few days, you will have a preferred method and routine identified. We recommend amping up your oral hygiene routine if you wear braces, brushing after each meal, and flossing, too. This routine alleviates the concern that more surface area in the mouth means that bacteria have more places to hide since bacterial counts in your mouth will be kept well in control.