Types of Orthodontic Treatments: What You Need to Know

Orthodontics is the treatment of misaligned teeth and jaws, which includes overbites and underbites, crooked or crowded teeth, or teeth with too much space between them. An orthodontist specializes in performing these treatments and will use special devices, such as braces and retainers, to fix these problems. Today, there are many treatment options available, from retainers to transparent aligners to metal and ceramic appliances. Orthodontists have the specialized knowledge to consider all possibilities, based on variables such as age, possible jaw imbalances, differences in tooth size and more.

They know what to use and when to use it, and they'll work with you to create a personalized smile. The most well-known type of orthodontic treatment are orthodontic appliances. These are essentially fixed in place and act in a similar way to orthopedic appliances most of the time. They are designed to be functional and often less noticeable than fixed devices. Traditional metal braces are the most popular type of orthodontic appliance, but they can also come in ceramic form, making them tooth-colored and somewhat less visible.

They can also be manufactured in lingual shapes, meaning that they rest behind the teeth and therefore won't be as noticeable as more traditional types of orthodontic appliances. Archwires fit into the grooves in the brackets and actually move the teeth. Elastics are small rubber bands that apply additional force to one or more teeth in a way that orthodontic appliances alone cannot. This helps the teeth move to their ideal positions. Invisalign aligners and other types of transparent braces are often removed when the recipient eats or when they need to be cleaned. Once your metal braces are removed, you'll need to wear a retainer for a certain amount of time.

Retainers help keep teeth freshly aligned so that they don't move again. You will use a removable retainer or a fixed metal retainer that attaches permanently to the back of your teeth. Retainers may need to be adjusted by the orthodontist over time, but they generally require less maintenance than orthodontic appliances. Over time, your orthodontist may decide that you only need to wear the retainer at night instead of wearing it all the time. Orthodontic procedures align your teeth, improve your bite, and use a fixed or removable appliance to do so.

Surgical orthodontics, also called orthognathic surgery, is corrective jaw surgery performed to remedy skeletal problems that affect the ability to bite, chew and speak. Lingual braces located behind the teeth are especially suitable for adults who do not want to use noticeable braces, but who also have complex orthodontic needs. This is usually done in combination with less invasive orthodontic treatments and is usually quite effective. From treating pain to improving the ability to chew and bite, orthodontic treatment helps prevent serious dental procedures in the future. With that said, let's look at some of the different treatment options offered by orthodontic specialists.

Metal or traditional braces are the most common type of orthodontic appliance worldwide and have existed for more than 100 years. Lingual braces behind the teeth are the most specialized and least common orthodontic system on the market. But ultimately you should consult with an orthodontist about what's right for you and choose the treatment that you think will give you the best possible results.

Callie Bawcombe
Callie Bawcombe

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