Braces are also for adults!
In this page, I reproduce an article published in the health file of the La Presse newspaper released on October 28, 2014.
Special thanks to Dr Martin Rousseau, President of the Quebec Association of Orthodontists, Dr Claude Remise, director of the orthodontics program at the Université de Montréal, and Dr Jean-Marc Dumoulin for their participation in this article.
Here is the article (this is a free translation since the original article was written in French and reproduced at the bottom of the current page):
Braces, at your age? Why not! It is never too late to start an orthodontic treatment. In fact, an increasing number of adults decide to wear orthodontic appliances and they are delighted with the results.
Do you tend to hide your smile because you have crooked teeth? An orthodontic treatment could help you. If 20 years ago, only a few rare adults wore orthodontic appliances – orthodontics was then almost exclusively reserved to children and teenagers –, an increasing number of them turn themselves to this type of treatment to correct crowded, misaligned, crooked or widely-spaced teeth.
According to the Ordre des dentistes du Québec, adults now represent about the quarter of patients in orthodontics. Orthodontic appliances have indeed greatly evolved in the last years: they are a lot more discreet than before – some are even invisible! With that being said, know that orthodontics is not only useful to improve the appearance of your smile. Crowded or misaligned teeth may be harmful to your oral health. Indeed, as they are harder to clean, malpositioned teeth facilitate the development of dental cavities and periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis.
An orthodontic treatment may thus be a good investment for your oral health.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF TREATMENT
Depending on the severity of your problem and the objectives of treatment, different options may be proposed to you, including:
Fixed orthodontic appliances
These orthodontic appliances – commonly called braces – are little brackets bonded to the front of teeth that are attached together by a metal wire. Using this bracket-wire system, a light constant force is applied to the teeth to move them slowly to a more appropriate position. These fixed orthodontic appliances, that can be made of metal or ceramic, allow the individual and simultaneous correction of the position of each tooth. They are the orthodontic appliances that offer the best performance and give the best results.
For people who really do not want their braces to be visible, it is now possible to choose a lingual treatment, which consists of placing the brackets on the tongue side, which makes them go unnoticed. The results of lingual orthodontics are almost the same as with the traditional technique, but it is more expensive and harder to manage. It is also more uncomfortable and annoying for speech.
In all cases, once these orthodontic appliances are in place, adjustments are necessary every four to eight weeks in order to maintain the appropriate tension. Wearing braces may last from six months to four years, depending on the complexity of the problem.
Removable orthodontic appliances
These removable orthodontic appliances consist of fine trays made of transparent plastic – similar to those used for teeth whitening – that are put on the teeth to move them gradually. To manage the straightening of teeth, a series of custom-made and computer-generated trays are used, depending on each step of treatment, that is from the initial position of the dentition until the desired final position. Each tray of the series is worn during about two or three weeks, in order to move teeth progressively until the desired position is obtained. As they are removable, these orthodontic appliances can be removed to eat, drink and brush the teeth, which eliminates food restrictions and cleaning difficulties associated with braces. However, their usage is more limited than with traditional braces. These appliances are thus not always indicated depending on the dental movements to perform. The total duration of treatment is similar to the duration required with a traditional treatment using braces. Regular visits to the orthodontist are also necessary.
IS IT PAINFUL?
During the first days of treatment – as well as after adjustments are made to the orthodontic appliances or when trays are changed during the treatment –, you can feel a minor discomfort, often described as a pressure sensation. This is normal and temporary. It is a sign that the treatment works and moves your teeth progressively toward their final position. You can manage this discomfort well with medication used to relieve pain or headaches, such as acetaminophen. The lips, the inside of the mouth and the tongue can also become irritated during the first weeks of treatment because of the orthodontic appliances. However, these problems subside with time.
AFTER THE TREATMENT…
As teeth can move afterwards, most of the time, it is necessary to wear a retainer – the frequency and duration vary from one person to another – once the treatment is finished. This appliance is important, because it is used to maintain the teeth in their new position. It is an essential part of the treatment if a patient wishes to maintain the results. In some cases, instead of this appliance, a small retention wire is bonded to the back of the dentition (tongue side) to avoid having teeth move again.
ORTHODONTIC CARE: DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT PRACTITIONER?
Do you, or a member of your family, need orthodontic care? Know that the orthodontist is the specialist in this field.
As orthodontics can change the position of a person’s teeth and facial morphology permanently, it is essential that an orthodontic treatment be started and followed up professionally, so it is important to contact a specialist in orthodontics to ensure an optimal treatment. This is more important since investment in an orthodontic treatment is significant and practicing orthodontics requires advanced professional aptitudes to adequately plan, fabricate, place and control orthodontic appliances necessary to align the teeth, jaws and soft tissues that contribute to dentofacial harmony.
WHAT IS AN ORTHODONTIST?
“The orthodontist is the specialist concerned with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of abnormalities associated with jaw growth and the position of teeth”, explains Dr Martin Rousseau, President of the Quebec Association of Orthodontists. This specialist detects and corrects these abnormalities associated with the position or alignment of teeth and jaws of children, teenagers and adults, using fixed or removable corrective appliances.
“In order to become an orthodontist, a person first needs to be a general dentist; in other words, the person needs to get a 5-year training in dentistry at university, and then successfully complete a three-year full-time orthodontic residency program recognized by the Ordre des dentistes du Québec”, indicates Dr Claude Remise, director of the orthodontics program of the Faculty of dentistry of the Université de Montréal.
The latter must finally pass the examination of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada (RCDC) to become an orthodontist or specialist in orthodontics.
WHY CHOOSE AN ORTHODONTIST?
Because of his specific training in orthodontics at university following his degree in dentistry, the orthodontist acquired the necessary competencies to conduct a treatment that will be able to correct an orthodontic problem. “An orthodontist’s experience and expertise are a lot more elaborated than those of a dentist who proposes orthodontic treatments”, insists Dr Remise. Indeed, although general dentists can practice orthodontics within the limits of their knowledge, they have not followed the 5000 hours of complementary training imposed to those who become specialists in orthodontics. Moreover, by practicing orthodontics exclusively, the orthodontist is a perfect master in his field. Finally, the orthodontist also follows reserved continuing education courses to regularly and diligently maintain his competencies in his field.
HOW TO FIND AN ORTHODONTIST?
“A practitioner who simply uses the term “orthodontics” does not mean that he is a specialist in this field”, reminds Dr Rousseau. If you wish to be treated by a specialist in orthodontics, you can consult the Ordre des dentistes du Québec’s website at www.odq.qc.ca. You can simply search by specialty in the “Find a dentist” section to find an orthodontist in your area. You can also use this tool to verify that the practitioner whom you are consulting is indeed an orthodontist. Moreover, the Quebec Association of Orthodontists’ website (www.associationdesorthodontistes.com) is a useful source of information if you wish to learn more on specialists in orthodontics.
Your life, your smile, your orthodontist
“Either you consider using fixed appliances (braces) or alignment trays (removable transparent shells) to improve your dentition or your child’s dentition, consult without delay a specialist who will help you get all the facts straight.
In addition to his degree in dentistry, your orthodontist followed a full-time post-graduate training of a minimum duration of 2 years at university.
His work in collaboration with your dentist will allow you to have healthy teeth and a radiant smile.
Your certified orthodontist: The specialist recognized by the Ordre des dentistes du Québec for orthodontic treatments.”
The importance of oral hygiene
No matter how old a patient is, wearing braces necessitates a very good oral hygiene. Indeed, as they are bonded to the teeth, braces accumulate food debris and dental plaque very easily. If oral hygiene is neglected during the orthodontic treatment, it can facilitate the development of dental cavities and periodontal diseases. In some cases, the treatment must even be stopped, which can extend its duration and even negatively affect the final result.
Adequate time must be taken to brush around each bracket to eliminate dental plaque and food efficiently. To do so, patients can use a standard toothbrush or even an orthodontic toothbrush, which bristles are cut in an angle to facilitate cleaning.
Dental floss also needs to be used daily, which requires more precision and time than usual. Obviously, this operation can be problematic, because it requires a certain manual dexterity to be able to floss despite the presence of the metal wire – note that it is not completely bonded to the teeth. Using a dental floss threader – a kind of end piece placed at one end of the dental floss – can help clean one’s teeth and save time.
Finally, the interproximal toothbrush and oral irrigator (device that uses a stream of pulsating water) can be good complements to brushing and flossing by helping remove food debris and dental plaque between the teeth.
With that being said, the key of success resides in the care with which a patient will clean his teeth and his braces.