Overview of Teeth misalignment
Misaligned teeth, also called malocclusion, are a common condition. It has the potential to affect your oral health and self-esteem. Many people have some form of malocclusion, and many rely on orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth and fix their smiles.
There are three main classes of malocclusion:
- Class I – here, the molars align, but there’s a bit of overcrowding in the front teeth (prevalent).
- Class II – the jaw and the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth
- Class III – the lower jaw pushes forward in front of the upper jaw
Also, there are seven different misalignments within these three classes, including:
- Overbite –a significant protrusion of the jaw and upper teeth over the lower teeth and jaw.
- Underbite – when a forward protrusion of the lower jaw results in a bulldog appearance.
- Crossbite – when you have some bottom teeth outside of the upper teeth
- Open bite – the lower and front upper teeth do not make contact when the mouth is closed.
- Overjet – the front upper teeth are the head of the lower front teeth.
- Crowded teeth – there is very little space in the jaw for proper teeth alignment.
- Diastema – the presence of small gaps between the teeth.
It is worth mentioning that most cases of malocclusion are inherited. Other factors that might cause malocclusion include congenital disabilities, teeth abnormalities, childhood habits, injuries, and poorly performed dental procedures.
Five best teeth straightening options
The five most common teeth straightening options include:
Teeth Straightening: Clear aligners
Clear aligners are invisible, custom-fitted, and removable plastic aligners.
Users wear one clear aligner tray for a maximum of two weeks and then replace it with the next set. This process will shift the teeth gradually into place.
Clear aligners can help with the treatment of most malocclusions. These include crossbites, underbites, overbites, crowded teeth, open bites, and gap teeth. Severe cases of malocclusions may require dental braces and other alternative methods.
Clear aligners have increased in popularity since the invention of Invisalign in 1998. Many patients are happier with an invisible look characteristic of clear aligners.
There are two different forms of clear aligners:
This treatment is done within an orthodontist’s or general dentist’s office. During your first visit, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth and create a custom, 3D treatment plan. After that, office visits will be scheduled every 4 – 8 weeks for a physical check-up and to fix your new aligners.
Many companies, including Beam Clear Aligners, prefer to work directly with consumers. As a result, they offer a cheaper and more accessible alternative.
The beam will send you an impression kit and create a treatment plan using a 3D scanner and a printing lab. Your teeth straightening treatment will be monitored virtually, and your new set of aligners will be mailed to you.
Treatment duration depends on the severity of your condition.
Teeth Straightening: Metal braces
Conventional metal braces are easily recognizable, and they are a very effective orthodontic treatment.
Metal braces are made of an archwire and metal brackets held by rubber bands. The archwire puts pressure on the misaligned teeth causing them to shift gradually into place.
Braces are a very reliable and effective treatment. However, most teens and adults are happier with clear aligners for aesthetic reasons.
The duration of treatment depends on your condition but ranges from 18 to 36 months.
Teeth Straightening: Ceramic braces
Ceramic braces use a similar method and equipment as metal braces. The primary difference is that ceramic braces use clear brackets and not metals. So, they’re less noticeable than metal braces (although still visible).
Ceramic braces use white or clear rubber bands that join the archwire resulting in a minimal appearance.
Treatment duration is the same as metal braces (typically 18 to 36 months).
Teeth Straightening: Lingual braces
Lingual braces are a less common alternative to ceramic and metal braces.
Some lingual braces may use wires and custom brackets to fit the arch of your mouth and the shape of your teeth. The frames are usually positioned on the back of the teeth and not the front.
Treatment may be slightly more uncomfortable than conventional metal braces and clear aligners. However, they’re more discreet.
Treatment duration is similar to conventional metal braces (6 months to 3 years).
Teeth Straightening: Headgear
Orthodontic headgear is used alongside braces. Braces are designed to correct the teeth positioning. On the other hand, headgear can influence the growth and shape of the jaw.
A patient can use headgear with an underbite, open bite, overjet, or crossbite. It is typically worn for at least 12 hours a day. The treatment duration takes at least one year and up to two years in some cases.
Teeth Straightening: Retainers
After your treatment, your teeth will attempt to move back to their original position. Retainers prevent teeth movement and help keep your new smile after braces. Retainers can be permanent or removable.
Retainers are typically worn for four to six months at the least. Some retainers may be worn longer.
Teeth Straightening: Palate expanders
Palate expanders are used in the initial stage of orthodontic treatment to help widen the palate. In addition, palate expanders treat children with crowded teeth, crossbites, or impacted teeth.
Palate expanders can also be used to improve breathing abilities. Some palate expanders are permanent, while others are removable.
Palate expanders are mainly used on children, and treatment duration ranges from 3 to 6 months.
Teeth Straightening: Veneers
Veneers are mainly a cosmetic treatment option. They are not designed for teeth straightening. Instead, they are thin shells placed on the front part of the teeth to improve their shape, size, and color.
It is important to note that veneers are used mainly for cosmetic reasons.
What are the benefits of teeth straightening?
Teeth straightening does more than enhance your smile. It boosts your confidence and is also beneficial to your oral health:
- Straight teeth are easier to clean. You can brush and floss them with ease. This decreases the risk of gum disease and cavities.
- There is minor wear and tear on your teeth.
- Better eating, speaking, and chewing abilities.
- Food digests better because you can now chew food properly.
- Decreased head and neck pain (some bite issues can cause severe headaches).
- Reduced risk of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and jaw issues.