Millions of Americans are currently wearing braces, making for a lot of beautiful smiles in progress! Although we’ve been finding ways to straighten teeth for hundreds of years, the number of orthodontic patients actually doubled between 1982 and 2008. Why? Well, a lot of that has to do with the incredible advances we’ve seen in both the technology and techniques used. There are more options than ever before for achieving a confident smile—in fact, there’s never been a better time to be an orthodontic patient with Windy City Orthodontics!
Our expert team is proud to offer patients of all ages a wide variety of options for improving oral health. Whether you’re dealing with crowded teeth, overbites, or protruding teeth, Dr. Pakravan is able to correct a wide range of orthodontic issues by utilizing several different treatment methods, including traditional braces.
Today’s braces are far removed from their predecessors. They’re smaller, more efficient, and more attractive, but still have the same track record of producing healthy smiles! Recent improvements in orthodontic technology mean we’re able to offer you a more rewarding orthodontic experience, and there’s never been a better time to be in braces. Keep reading to learn more about how they work, the different types we have available, and how this powerhouse appliance can transform your smile!
What are traditional braces? How do they work to straighten smiles?
The basic design of braces has been around since the early 1900’s, which explains why they’re the most recognizable orthodontic appliance! Today’s braces feature metal or clear brackets that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth, then tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands. You may also hear these referred to as color ties. These components work together over time to gently move the teeth into the optimal positions.
Although the total treatment time will always vary from case to case, braces can sometimes align teeth more quickly than other methods might. There’s no “one size fits all” answer for how long a patient will need to be in braces, but on average, treatment time tends to be anywhere from 12-24 months. Since every smile is unique, this will depend on the patient’s specific needs.
Wearing braces can come with a bit of a learning curve, especially in the early days, but with a little patience and practice you’ll be a braces pro in no time at all! One part of this is maintaining the health of your teeth and gums throughout the treatment process. Oral health is important for everyone, of course, but it’s essential for braces patients. The nooks and crannies that the brackets and wires create can be difficult to clean effectively, but there are a number of accessories designed to make this easier. Water flossers and ortho picks can help clean areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush or dental floss. We recommend that all of our patients stay on top of their oral health by brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each time, and flossing thoroughly every night before bed. Don’t worry, we’ll show you how when your braces are placed on your teeth!
Follow-up visits are another important part of your orthodontic journey. You can expect to be seen every 4-8 weeks or so, depending on your specific treatment plan. During these appointments, Dr. Pakravan will check that your teeth are moving the way they should be, make any necessary adjustments, and change the bands attached to the brackets. He may replace the wire as well. We do our best to get you in and out of the office quickly!
What types of braces are available at Windy City Orthodontics?
Metal braces are generally composed of stainless steel, nickel, titanium, and a mix of other high-quality metals. This is why the brackets are so durable, but innovative technology means they’re also light, comfortable, and efficient. These braces are also customizable! Patients are able to choose from a variety of fun-colored elastics to match their personality. Metal braces produce excellent results, and there’s a reason traditional braces are the top orthodontic treatment, year after year!
Clear braces may also be referred to as ceramic braces, tooth-colored braces, or esthetic braces. They function like metal braces do, but come with the added benefit of semi-translucent or tooth-colored ceramic brackets. Since these brackets are able to blend in with a patient’s natural smile, they offer a more subtle straightening option, especially when the brackets are paired with esthetic elastic ties!
Clear braces are tough just like their metal counterparts, but the material they’re made from can be more prone to chipping or cracking. Since metal braces can tolerate more pressure than ceramic ones, they may be a better option for those who require severe corrections to be made. Clear brackets can also be slightly more costly than metal brackets. Since they can be more expensive and are sometimes more prone to breakage, we tend to mainly recommend clear braces to our older teen and adult patients.
Invisalign and Invisalign Teen clear aligner therapy
Okay, it’s true that Invisalign is actually an alternative to traditional braces, but we think this system is worth knowing about, too! Invisalign consists of a series of clear removable aligners that are custom designed to fit comfortably over the patient’s teeth. Like traditional braces, these customized aligners gently move the teeth into the desired positions over time. However, they don’t require any brackets, bands, or wires to do so.
Patient compliance is an important aspect of any treatment process, but it’s essential for success with the Invisalign system. Patients must wear the aligners 20-22 hours every day to move the teeth on schedule. They’re also responsible for replacing each aligner for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks in order to keep up with the movement of the teeth.
Because these clear aligners are removable, they do offer patients a little more freedom and flexibility than traditional braces. They’re designed to be taken out when eating or drinking, so there are no food restrictions, and it’s also easier to maintain a good oral hygiene routine. Patients simply remove the aligner, then brush and floss as they normally would! Invisalign and Invisalign Teen both tend to work best with mild to moderate cases of the most common orthodontic issues.
Find the best braces for you at Windy City Orthodontics
Here at Windy City Orthodontics, we know that every smile is unique, and what works for one patient may not be the best choice for another. That’s why Dr. Pakravan creates a personalized treatment plan for every single patient he sees! If you’re in the Chicago area and would like to learn more about how our braces can give you a beautifully aligned smile, get in touch today! We’d love to schedule you for a FREE consultation with Dr. Pakravan and our talented team.