Everybody loves a top ten list, so here we go! Many parents of my patients at Meadows Orthodontics had braces themselves in the past. They often wonder how their childrens’ experience with braces will differ from the experience that they had. There have been many positive changes over the years, all of which make braces more comfortable, make treatment more efficient, or increase safety. Here are some of the most significant changes.
- The development of advanced arch wires used in braces. There has been a massive increase in comfort and efficiency due to the wires (the part that actually aligns the teeth) that we currently use. Beta- titanium, Nitinol (Nickel- Titanium Naval Ordnance Laboratory- an alloy named after its site of discovery), and heat-activated Nitinol wires are widely used, which allows us start with more gentle forces, and offer a large range of flexibility, adjust-ability, and shape-memory properties.
- Clear braces, and more esthetic alternatives. New advances in ceramic braces have offered highly esthetic alternatives that were not available before. These new braces are similar in size and shape to metal braces, but are clear! After years of development they no longer stain or change color as some people remember from years ago. They really look beautiful, and are a great option for adults with concerns about their appearance during treatment, and for teens that just want a different look. Of course, Invisalign is an option that I didn’t have in the 80’s, but I am honest about whether Invisalign will be the best option for your individual smile and goals. It is a great for some, not so great for others!
- Bonded braces. Most people take this one for granted, but it was not that long ago wearing braces meant full metal bands that totally surrounded every tooth in the mouth. My wife was actually one of the unfortunate last of our generation to wear these bands as the profession migrated to using bonded braces. Bonding technology allowed brackets (the “square” part of braces) to be “stuck” to the surface of the teeth, instead of being welded to the metal ring that surrounded every tooth. Kids, you may groan when parents say, “When I was a kid…”, followed by some tale of childhood hardship. In this case they mean it – the braces of today are so much more comfortable and smaller than they used to be!
- Decreased exposure to radiation. The development of digital radiography, which has replaced traditional film, has reduced exposure to radiation my many multiples.
- Better long term retention of straight teeth. This is more due to awareness than to any technological advancement. It is rare that a progressive orthodontist does not recommend retention for life these days, which certainly was not the case when I was younger. Whether you have had braces or not, we now know that most people experience tooth movement as they age. After your orthodontic treatment, we will help you choose the most comfortable retention option for your lifestyle.
- Options to help prevent permanent tooth staining. The new adhesives we use to make the braces “stick” contains fluoride to help counteract decalcification (the loss of minerals in the teeth, which causes “spots”). For added protection, we also offer a protective, clear glaze that can be placed for more at risk individuals.
- No more headgear! Well, sort off. We now have multiple alternative choices to treat Class II cases (or upper teeth that are located too far ahead of the lower teeth), most of which are hard to see, relatively small, and worn within the mouth. Head gear is still a great treatment option for some kids (some actually prefer it over the other options), but we certainly do not ask for it to be worn in public!
- Digital impressions. A recent advancement in the last few years, digital scanners (no radiation) are taking the place of the gooey alginate impressions that most consider an uncomfortable part of treatment. The digital scanners use a low- intensity laser that is fast and completely comfortable. At meadows Orthodontics, we use what is called an iTero scanner, which also sends digital impressions directly to Invisalign if this is the treatment of choice.
- More fun colors! For patients who choose traditional braces, we offer over 30 colors to mix and match, including glow in the dark colors. Parents are often shocked at the colors we offer compared to when they had braces! A smart friend of mine figured out that there are 435 different combinations of two colors, and 4060 combinations for three colors!
- Evidence for ideal treatment. Dr. Rejman uses peer-reviewed evidence to help make treatment decisions whenever possible. The web alone has been a game changer in the ease that professionals can access research and information from respected journals around the world. Clinical experience is very important in practicing orthodontics and making decisions, but Dr. Rejman balances this with being an evidence based practice for the well-being of his patients and the community.
Dan Rejman, D.D.S., M.S.
Dr. Dan Rejman is the owner of Meadows Orthodontics in Castle Rock, Colorado. He loves discussing treatment alternatives with his patients, and various artistic ways to get a smile to look “just right”! He has been Board Certified by the ABO for seven years, and was recently voted Best of the Best, “Best Orthodontist in Castle Rock, 2014”.