Oral health is an important aspect of overall physical health. Teeth that aren't properly aligned can lead to issues such as tooth decay, pain, and gum disease. It's important to get these taken care of to improve your oral health.
An orthodontist can help you correct your misaligned teeth. This is often done through treatments such as Invisalign. Let's look at how the right orthodontist can help you improve your oral health.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a type of dentist. They are specially trained to diagnose, prevent, and treat issues in your teeth or jaw. They can also spot things that might plague you in the future, and recommend steps to prevent them. Their patients make up all age groups, from young children to elderly adults.
Orthodontists may supervise the development of the teeth and jawline in children. This helps them to determine how the teeth are growing and whether corrective treatments will be needed eventually.
The primary treatment used to correct irregularities in teeth is the application of braces, retainers, and bands. These devices slowly change the position of your teeth over time. The overall goal is to improve your bite.
In addition to these treatments, orthodontists may perform surgery to straighten teeth. This is typically a last resort if braces and other devices cannot help.
Orthodontists are considered specialists, so they usually have more training and education than a dentist. All dentists and orthodontists obtain a pre-medical degree and complete dental school, but orthodontists also complete an orthodontic residency program and receive a specialty certificate.
When Should You See an Orthodontist?
Most people see an orthodontist to treat existing problems in their teeth. They may be referred to a specialist by their dentist, or seek out a qualified orthodontist on their own.
If you have misaligned or crowded teeth that affects your bite, you should see an orthodontist as soon as possible to correct the problem before it gets worse. You don't necessarily need your dentist to refer you -- if you know you have an issue, seek out an orthodontist right away.
Children should also see an orthodontist before age seven. An assessment early on will help to determine whether corrective devices will be needed later.
What is Invisalign?
Braces work by attaching metal, ceramic, or plastic square bonds to the teeth. Wires connecting them apply force to the teeth in order to move them into their proper positions.
Clear aligners provide an alternative to unsightly braces. They do the same job, but aren't as noticeable and are often more comfortable as well. They are nearly invisible to others and you may not even feel them.
Clear aligners can be removed at night or during meals, and placed back in the mouth afterwards. You can also remove them when brushing, flossing, playing sports, attending special events, or during any other activity. As long as you wear the aligners for at least 20-22 hours each day, you will still see the teeth-straightening benefits.
Certain foods can get stuck in braces or damage them, so often there is a list of foods to avoid with traditional braces. There are no restrictions when wearing clear aligners, since they can simply be removed.
One such clear aligner is Invisalign, which typically costs the same as braces but works faster and more comfortably. Some Invisalign systems can even whiten your teeth while they straighten them.
Invisalign is designed to fit snugly around your teeth, so you don't have to worry about them falling out at any time.
Traditional braces can take anywhere from 1-3 years to straighten teeth, but Invisalign can correct them in as little as six months. You will actually start to see results within the first few weeks.
The process for Invisalign starts with a consultation. A 3D digital scan will be taken of your teeth, which will be used to create the aligners. Your orthodontist will also map out a treatment plan for you.
Next, you will schedule an appointment for your fitting. You will make sure your aligners fit well and ask your orthodontist any questions you might have. They will let you know what to expect over the next six months.
You'll pick up several sets of aligners, and wear each one for 1-2 weeks. You'll also meet with your orthodontist once every 6-8 weeks to check on your progress and pick up more aligners.
You may feel a little bit of discomfort during the first few days of wearing Invisalign. The aligners are applying gentle, constant force to move your teeth into their proper positions, which you may or may not feel while you are wearing them. This discomfort is temporary and completely normal. You should see your orthodontist if you continue to feel the pressure after the first few days.
Another thing you may notice is a change in the way you speak. Your tongue may need some time to get used to the presence of your aligners, so you may experience a slight lisp at first. This is also temporary and will go away.
Cleaning tablets and lukewarm water are all you need to take care of your aligners. Make sure to brush your teeth after each meal before placing the aligners back in your mouth. This will keep the aligners from become stained and will also help you maintain good oral health. Lost or broken aligners should be reported to your orthodontist immediately, so they can let you know how to proceed -- you may need to wear a previous set, move on to your next set, or order replacements.
When your treatment is finished, you may still need to wear a retainer to keep your teeth from shifting back into unhealthy positions. This is something that should be discussed with your orthodontist, as every case is different.
Start Your Journey Towards Better Oral Health
Your oral health is an essential part of your overall health. Misaligned teeth need to be addressed as soon as possible to avoid painful problems later. Invisalign is one of the best ways to accomplish this, and a qualified orthodontist can help you get started on this process. The professionals at Taunton Village Dental are trained to provide Invisalign services. Contact them today to schedule a consultation.