It's no coincidence that everyone loves a great smile -- recent research has determined that seeing a smile gives more pleasure than eating chocolate or having sex. But when you don't have a smile you're proud of, it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable just to open your mouth.
Fortunately, if you have crooked or crowded teeth, an underbite or overbite or even a jaw disorder, there are now a wide range of cosmetic and orthodontic treatments to help bring the joy back to talking, laughing and eating.
While porcelain veneers and Invisalign® dental aligners are gaining in popularity, more and more adults are also turning to the tried and true method of dental braces. In fact, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, adults represent 20 percent of all braces-wearers, and the number of adult patients has increased 37 percent in the last decade.
Yet, unlike the metal dental braces of yesteryear, which spawned countless jokes about "metal mouths," today's dental braces offer improved technologies and aesthetics to decrease treatment time and help you feel less self-conscious.
Both adults and children alike can now choose from ceramic braces with virtually invisible tooth-colored brackets, or lingual dental braces that are placed behind the teeth. But if you're an adult who doesn't have a lot of time to spare, speed braces just may be your smile savior.
If you didn't have the opportunity to wear dental braces as a child, you can still benefit from an improved smile and better oral health by wearing dental braces in your adult years. However, a traditional dental braces treatment may take longer for adults.
But speed dental braces, also known as rapid orthodontics, can help cut treatment time in half. Unlike conventional metal dental braces, which require an average of 12-20 months of treatment time, speed dental braces typically require just 6-9 months to complete.
This innovative dental braces technology uses "self-ligating" brackets, which are designed like individual trap doors and hold the arch wire in place -- no rubber bands or additional wire are required. One of the best features of speed dental braces is the slide mechanism of the self-ligating brackets: The wire slides through the brackets as the teeth move, allowing your teeth to move more freely, quickly and comfortably. This slide technology also helps reduce the friction between the brackets and wire, which means that you'll need fewer adjustments.
The self-ligating brackets on speed dental braces can also help promote better oral health than those of braces past: Because the brackets are smaller in size, it's easier to brush and floss your teeth; and since speed dental braces are left on your teeth for a shorter period of time, you're also less likely to suffer from decalcification (yellow or brown spots on your teeth).
Damon®, In-Ovation® and SmartClipTM are the most well-known brands of speed braces. The Damon System uses discreet all-metal brackets and is one of the most commonly used brands. Both the In-Ovation System and the SmartClip Appliance System use metal brackets, but ceramic brackets are also available for improved aesthetics. With so many great options for speed dental braces, you should have plenty to discuss with your orthodontist during your evaluation!
Invest in speed braces, and you'll reap both tangible and intangible rewards. If smiling was never easy for you, it will be. Many patients say they felt a boost in self-esteem after treatment, which made it easier to smile and interact with others. You may even notice that people treat you better after the dental braces come off; since a great smile leaves a positive impression on others, you could find it easier to excel at work or school. There's also proven evidence that the happier you feel, the less susceptible you will be to developing colds.
Dental braces treatment can also have a significant impact on your dental health and even your digestion! If your teeth and jaws are misaligned, you may have problems chewing food properly, which can then overtax your digestive system and cause frequent stomachaches. With a straighter smile, eating can be a pleasure again.
Crooked teeth are also difficult to clean; as a result, your teeth and gums may hurt and you may be prone to advanced tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Speed dental braces can help prevent further damage and the need for more extensive dental treatment such as ongoing gum disease treatment and reconstructive dental surgery.
While the experience of getting dental braces as an adult isn't terribly dissimilar from getting dental braces as a teenager, there are some differences. First, if your orthodontist determines that you're not a good candidate for speed braces, your treatment may take longer than it would have if you'd gotten dental braces as a teenager. Secondly, because your jaw is no longer growing, your orthodontist may need to pull a few teeth to provide space for your straightened teeth. Lastly, it may take you longer to heal.
The good news is the technology used in speed braces can eliminate the need for a tooth extraction and palatal expander (a device that spreads the jaws). While discomfort and healing may take longer if you wear dental braces as an adult, speed braces can significantly reduce your overall treatment time.
Remember, a braces evaluation from a great dentist is the only way to know for certain what's required for your treatment and whether speed braces are right for you.