by Mudita Agrawal, University of Michigan (2016)


Cosmetic dentistry is becoming increasingly common as people focus on improving their smiles.  Orthodontic treatment is just one facet of this increased attention to cosmetics.  Orthodontics, with its prefix coming from the Greek word meaning “straight,” is the specialty of dentistry that deals with straightening teeth.   Dental professionals use various techniques to straighten teeth. Teeth are moved to give them an ideal position, improve esthetics, and to promote better function of the patient’s bite. Dental professionals improve the patient’s smile while also focusing on his or her oral health.

Most commonly, either braces or Invisalign are used to straighten teeth. Invisalign is a great tool to improve the malocclusion of teeth though it does not work in every case. It uses a series of clear plastic trays to move teeth one step at a time. On the other hand, braces usually use metal wires and brackets to position the teeth.

Invisalign is a great method of doing tooth movements that are not very complicated.  It also works better for esthetic purposes than metallic wires and brackets. These are a set of clear, computer-generated plastic trays ideally worn 24 hours a day and are changed every two weeks. There are certain retention trays given to patients after tooth movement is complete. One of Invisalign’s main advantages is that the trays are thin and unnoticeable. It also offers some degree of comfort because it does not affect the patient’s speech much and also may make him or her feel comfortable in social situations.

Treatment with braces uses brackets which are attached to teeth and subsequently to a wire. An orthodontist or any other trained dental professional is responsible for fixing the dental braces onto the teeth. This supports slight teeth movements that, over time, provide proper alignment and straightening of the teeth. One benefit of dental braces over Invisalign is that these are not removable so patient compliance would not be as great an issue.  Dental braces also afford more precise control of a tooth’s movement compared to Invisalign.  Braces work much more efficiently for complicated tooth movements, and they can also be expected to act faster at closing gaps and aligning the teeth.

Choosing between various orthodontic treatment ultimately is based on the patient’s expectations, desires, and severity of malocclusion.  Considering these three things, the patient and his or her dental professional can decide on an avenue that will give them the smile they have always wanted!

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