Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that focuses on correcting a patient’s teeth and jaw structure to improve the overall smile. Dental issues such as crowded or crooked teeth can cause problems with smiling, chewing, and overall health. Misaligned teeth also place excess pressure on other teeth, gums, and jaw joints, which can lead to conditions like TMD and severe migraines.
While millions of children and adults each year elect to begin orthodontic treatment, there are many different types of orthodontic treatment to choose from. Your choice depends on which treatment is best for your needs, and each approach has its own set of benefits.
Types of Orthodontic Issues
A crossbite describes a patient’s bite that has upper teeth sitting inside the lower teeth when a patient closes their mouth. Also known as a misaligned bite, a crossbite can cause teeth to wear down or chip. Crossbites can affect the cosmetic appearance of teeth, and also cause lip pain from the bite. A misaligned bite at the back of the mouth, referred to as a posterior crossbite, can cause teeth grinding, jaw problems, and abnormal facial development.
Crowding is the most common reason people seek out orthodontic care, according to Oral Health. It occurs when there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate all of the teeth. Crowded teeth are hard to floss, and can contribute to tooth decay if they are not corrected. Orthodontists like Dr. Laster recommend seeing patients who begin developing crowding at a younger age to help ensure all the teeth erupt properly without developing more severe problems later.
If you have unnatural gaps between your teeth, you may have abnormal tooth spacing. Excessive spacing is often as problematic as tooth crowding. The most common place for problematic tooth spacing is between the two front teeth, according to Colgate, although it can happen anywhere in the mouth. Excessive spacing can lead to gingivitis and tooth decay by allowing more gum area to be exposed to bacteria where they would typically be protected by teeth.
An improper bite means your upper and lower teeth do not meet correctly when you bite down. Also known as malocclusion, an improper bite can affect the shape of your face and the appearance of your teeth.
There are several types of malocclusion. An open bite occurs when there is an opening between your upper and lower teeth when you clench your teeth. An underbite is when your upper teeth are too far back and your lower teeth are too far forward. A deep bite, also known as an overbite, is when your upper teeth are too far forward of your lower teeth. Most patients with these type of bite problems wear down their teeth prematurely and often need more dental work as they get older.
When you are a young child and lose your ‘baby teeth’, adult teeth erupt through the gums. Improper eruption, then, happens when your teeth come out only part way, at an angle, or in the wrong spot. Orthodontists may recommend braces, aligners, or extraction to fix this problem. It is not uncommon for a tooth to get stuck under the surface, called which is called impaction. Getting screened at age 8 because impactions can be most easily corrected or even prevented when caught early.
An impacted tooth is one that cannot erupt properly because another tooth is in the way or because there is not enough room in the jaw. Wisdom teeth frequently become impacted, causing pain to older adolescents and younger adults. Canines also frequently become impacted when a patient has crowded teeth. A benefit of early expansion of the jaws that impactions are prevented. Primary extractions at a younger age can also help prevent extractions later on in life.
Types of Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontists may recommend one of several different types of orthodontic treatment. The type of orthodontic treatment a dentist recommends depends largely on your orthodontic problem, the severity of the problem, patient convenience, budget, and comfort.
Metal brackets, wires, and bands of braces are the mainstay of orthodontic treatment. Your orthodontist may recommend braces for significant orthodontic problems or if you want to close gaps and align your teeth quickly. Today’s high-tech braces wires are less noticeable than the wires of the past, and colorful elastic bands make braces more fun. While braces are most popular among young adolescents, adults also opt for braces to correct their smile as well.
Two-phase orthodontics prevents younger patients from having to receive severe orthodontic treatment later in life. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an evaluation by an orthodontist when your child is 7 or 8 to evaluate for problems that could benefit from early phase treatment. This is because if early orthodontics are implemented while the teeth and jaw bone are still developing, orthodontic treatment will be easier and less severe. Phase I includes the use of expanders and other dental appliances that create more room in the jaw for incoming teeth. This can reduce the need for tooth extractions or jaw surgery when the child is older. Phase II typically starts when most of the adult teeth have come in, and involves the use of braces or aligners once all of the adult teeth have grown in.
Orthodontic aligners can straighten your teeth without the wires or brackets of traditional braces. Aligners use a series of clear, plastic, removable trays that fit over your teeth. You wear each aligner for a specified amount of time each day, usually about 20 hours a day for two weeks, before progressing to the next tray. Aligners can straighten your teeth in anywhere from six weeks to 18 months, depending on the severity of your teeth misalignment. Unlike traditional braces, you can remove aligners when you eat, brush, and floss. This type of treatment is most popular among adults and older teens who are worried about the aesthetic appearance of braces.
Invisalign has the world’s largest 3D printing operation, and boasts more than 20 years of research and more than 900 patents. This aligner system, as well as Invisalign Teen, is available at Laster Orthodontics.
Laster Perfect Smile aligners are an Invisalign alternative exclusive to Laster Orthodontics. Like Invisalign, clear aligners are used to straighten your teeth, but this service is provided at a lower cost. All aligners are designed by Dr. Laster personally, using a software that is extremely detailed and precise. Once designed, the aligners are created in the Raleigh lab as opposed to the Invisalign lab. This in-house production saves Laster Orthodontics $1000 per case on average, and these savings are then passed along to the patients. Dr. Laster will often recommend LPS to patients interested in mail order aligner treatments like Smile Direct Club. The ADA and orthodontic professionals strongly discourage the use of these types of treatments, which are unmonitored and can cause lifelong damage to the mouth.
With braces and aligners, Dr. Laster at Laster Orthodontics has implemented a way to make orthodontics faster and more accurate than traditional methods. SureSmile technology combines 3D imaging, computer aided smile design, and modern robotic technology to efficiently produce incredible smiles. Dr. Laster uses an iTero 3D scanner to capture a precise representation of a patient’s smile once their braces brackets are on. Virtual smile design computer software is then used to design the patient's new smile. Using the high tech smile simulation, Dr. Laster then instructs robots to bend wires to move the teeth more precisely than traditional orthodontics practices ever could. He also uses this technology to create aligners, like the Laster Perfect Smile aligner system. Dr. Laster is North Carolina’s leading provider of wires and aligners using SureSmile technology, which has allowed his dental practice to treat complex cases in less time with better results.
Regardless of which type of orthodontic treatment you choose, you will be creating a beautiful smile to be proud of. Each year, millions of Americans begin orthodontic treatment, from braces to aligners. Crowded teeth, jaw issues, or crossbites aren’t a permanent condition, and orthodontic treatment can help you live the life you’ve dreamed of. If you’re ready to start the process, Dr. Laster at Laster Orthodontics is here for you, and excited to discuss which treatment options might work best for you.
At Laster Orthodontics, we help families develop healthy, life-changing smiles using customized treatments, cutting-edge technologies, and caring relationships. Our individualized treatment plans help our patients achieve their perfect smile in the quickest, most painless way possible by utilizing a wide range of options from traditional braces to Propel accelerated treatment to Dr. Laster's in-house aligner program, Laster Perfect Smile. With three locations throughout the Triangle Area, we create life-changing smiles every day.