Straight, white teeth are a coveted asset that help fuel the multi-billion dollar cosmetic dentistry industry. Although it is true that some individuals are paying big bucks to get less than perfect teeth, the majority of people long to have smiles filled not only with healthy teeth, but devices that are well aligned. Fortunately there are a myriad of choices that can be implemented to achieve the desired results.
Archeologists have unearthed plenty of examples of primitive dentistry aimed at getting rid of crooked teeth as several mummies featuring metal bands wrapped around teeth have been found. However, true orthodontics did not start developing until the 17th century and beyond. From the creation of the "Blandeau" (the predecessor to dental braces) in the 17th century, to a classification system for malocclusion in the 20th century, dentists and dental care providers have made great advancements in straightening their patient's teeth and physical manipulation is no longer the only option.
The debate of "nature versus nurture" is as old as time itself but the reality is, genetics always have a hand in how humans develop. If parents are born with twisted and mangled teeth, odds are not in the favor of their offspring winning the genetic dental lottery at birth. However, certain behaviors can compound the issue and regardless of the natural grown pattern of teeth, behavior modification can help ensure that teeth grow in the straightest way possible (as determined by genetic coding).
The most important way to improve the odds of straight teeth is to prevent thumb sucking in they developing mouths of children. Babies are born with only two natural instincts, grabbing and sucking and thumb sucking pays homage to the latter. While thumb sucking may be a completly innocent habit for children aged two and younger, parents need to wean their children from the practice after age four. At that time a mouth will start taking shape to house milk teeth and future permanent teeth, and thumb sucking can prevent the palate from developing correctly and increase the odds of malocclusion from occurring as a result.
Since the 1980s, dental veneers have been used as a type of restorative dentistry; a thin layer of material is affixed to teeth and can near instantly make a smile look whole and gleaming. The devices are great for correction a number of dental problems including improving the look of dull or stained teeth, improving diastema, fixing the lines of irregularly shaped teeth or repair damage to chipped and broken teeth. The devices can also be used to convert the alignment of crooked teeth.
Getting dental veneers will take a couple of trips to the dentist, as the process involves multiple steps. First a dental care provider will ensure that dental health is up to snuff and that a mouth can handle the labor associated with the cosmetic dentistry. During that time period, patient and dentist will develop a plan for how the new teeth will look and the dentist can potentially take X-rays or molds to help implement the master plan. Then, the dentist will prepare teeth for their update by removing about half a millimeter of tooth enamel, the approximate thickness of the veneers, take a mold and send that to a lab for the veneers to be produced. Once those have arrived back into the dental office, the patient will come in for the final step where the veneers are tested for fit and once approved, will be affixed to the tooth surface via dental bonding. By opting for dental veneers, individuals can get straight teeth in very little time.
During puberty, metal dental braces appear to be a rite of passage for many. However, some individuals (teens and adults) may balk at the tin grin look. Invisible braces are the solution to that tooth-straightening conundrum.
Invisible braces are a relatively new option, only dating back to 1987. NASA Scientific and Technical Information, developed the minimally invasive dental care procedure thanks to research initially conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). At that time, a company called Ceradyne created a material called translucent polycrystalline alumina (TPA) in association with NASA. At first, TPA was developed as part of NASA's Advanced Ceramics Research in order to protect the infrared antennae of heat-seeking missile trackers. When a company named Unitek heard about the material and found it would be durable enough to withstand oral wear and tear, invisible braces were born.
Invisalign is the most popular brand of invisible braces. That system relies on using a progression of retainer-type mouthpieces. A patient will wear several phases of the mouth guards, each one is custom fitted and tweaked so that teeth will gradually (and inconspicuously) shift over time. The process can take about a year, and works best for individuals who only need minor adjustments to their tooth alignment.
There are plenty of strategies that can be implemented to produce straight teeth, and a direct conversation with a dentist is the wise approach to figuring out what will work best for YOU. Patients interested in speaking to a dentist directly about cosmetic dentistry, simply need to dial 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 to get the name of a dentist who is well versed in the task.