Orthodontics is the area of dentistry that deals with changing the position of teeth. Although mostly associated with the cosmetic goals of creating “straight” teeth for a more symmetric smile, orthodontics can be used to create space for tooth or implant restorations where teeth have drifted over time into spaces of missing teeth. Orthodontics have been used to change tooth position to relieve jaw pain associated with how teeth come together. Systems to accomplish these goals vary from fixed or traditional bands and brackets to removable plastic trays such as Invisalign.
Traditional braces with bands and brackets are cemented to teeth and connected to other teeth with wires in order of some or all the teeth. Traditional braces can be used to relieve crowding, reduce overbites, correct rotated or tilted teeth, close spaces or gaps or help impacted teeth erupt. Traditional braces usually require the patient to wear elastics and maintain excellent hygiene throughout treatment which typically lasts 2 or more years.
Orthodontics can also be accomplished using removable appliances. Typically these are made up of a series of plastic trays which are fabricated to move the teeth while in the patient’s mouth. The trays can be removed by the patient for eating and cleaning both the teeth and trays. The trays are usually more limited than traditional braces as to the conditions that can be corrected and require the patient to be more responsible about wearing the trays as prescribed by the dentist.