Orthodontic treatment works to correct crooked, crowded or misaligned teeth, as well as misaligned jaws. Braces and clear aligners move teeth by exerting a constant, gentle force on the teeth to guide them to their ideal positions. This tooth movement is made possible by the breakdown and rebuilding of bone tissues as the teeth get guided through bone to their new locations. It is complex biological process, but in the hands of a skilled orthodontist can be a straightforward, efficient and effective process.
The shape of a patient’s jaw will also gradually adapt to conform to the pressure placed by the braces or aligners. However, in some cases, additional appliances, such as palatal expanders or other devices, may be needed to assist with jaw growth and alignment.
Knowing how to apply the correct amount of pressure, and where the pressure should be applied, is your orthodontist’s specialty. While some orthodontic cases are relatively straightforward and only require a bit of shifting or straightening, others require teeth to be rotated, shifted, lifted up from the gums, or other more complex movements that require the knowledge of a skilled orthodontist.
Your teeth are held in place by the periodontal ligament, the gum tissue that surrounds the root of each tooth. When your teeth are guided to their new locations, it will require bone remodeling to not only close up where the teeth were, but secure them where they have been moved to.
Standard braces consist of metal brackets that are adhered to each individual tooth, and a wire that is placed in each bracket to surround the smile. The wire is the piece that places the needed pressure to guide the teeth.
Clear aligners work in the same manner as braces, but instead of brackets and wires the system uses a series of plastic molds that fit directly over the teeth. Each set is individually calibrated to achieve a certain degree of tooth movement before moving on to the next set. Treatment is mapped out using a 3D planning tool.
One of the reasons why orthodontic treatment is recommended at a younger age is because the bone remodeling process is easier the younger you are. If treatment is begun early enough, tools like palatal expanders can be used to guide the jaw to ensure less serious intervention will be needed later.
The extent of treatment is dependent on several factors, such as the age you are when treatment begins, as well as the severity of your issue. Some people require only limited orthodontic treatment, while others require early interventive treatment, palatal expansion, braces, headgear, etc.