Dream Dental Paul H. Kim, DDS
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Orthodontics

Although most people undergo orthodontic treatment during their teenage years, that is not the only age that orthodontic treatment is effective. In fact, orthodontic treatment for adults is becoming increasingly popular. Whether you were not able to have orthodontic treatment as a teenager or your teeth have shifted, adult orthodontic treatment can help you properly align your teeth and bite. Not only does aligning your teeth and bite improve the aesthetics of your smile, but it helps to improve your overall oral health. As an adult, you have a variety of options for your orthodontic treatment, including:

  • Traditional metal wire braces
  • Invisalign aligners
  • Ceramic tooth-colored braces

Did You Know?

According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), approximately 1.5 million American adults opted for orthodontic treatment in 2014. With modern advancements, adult orthodontics is quickly becoming more of a norm.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Am I a candidate for adult orthodontics?

mouth model with left half before braces and right half with braces

You may be a candidate for adult orthodontics if you have teeth that are overcrowded, crooked, overlapping, or that have gaps between them. You may also be a candidate for adult orthodontics if you have a malocclusion such as overbite, underbite, or crossbite.

However, each type of orthodontic treatment has its own set of criteria. For example, candidates for Invisalign can be limited if their teeth are too rotated, don’t fit into the aligners, or if their midline is too uneven. Because of this, one specific type of orthodontic treatment may be recommended over the others in specific cases.

To find out if you are an ideal candidate for adult orthodontics and which orthodontic option is the best for your smile, schedule a consultation with Dr. Paul H. Kim of Dream Dental today!

What are my adult orthodontic options?

Three different types of braces: traditional, ceramic, and clear aligners

Dream Dental offers the following options for adult orthodontics:

Traditional Metal Wire Braces

Composed of metal brackets, wires, and bands, this is the form of orthodontic treatment that most people are familiar with. Metal brackets are cemented to each tooth, an arched wire is passed through the brackets, and a band is placed over the bracket to keep the wire in place. The teeth are then gradually moved as a result of the constant pressure exerted by the arch wire. Every few weeks the arch wire is changed out or tightened to keep the teeth moving in a certain way.

Invisalign Aligners

Unlike traditional metal braces, which are a fixed orthodontic appliance, Invisalign aligners are removable orthodontic appliances. They are composed of top and bottom aligners that fit over the teeth that are to be worn at all times, except when brushing, flossing, or eating. The teeth are gradually moved into place by the pressure exerted on them from the aligners. Every few weeks a new aligner is given to keep moving the teeth into a certain position.

Ceramic braces

Similar to traditional metal braces, ceramic braces are composed of a bracket, arch wire, and band. However, they are made from ceramic rather than metal. Because of this, they blend better with natural teeth and are less noticeable. The mechanism through which they work is the same as traditional wire braces.

What should I expect during my orthodontic treatment at Dream Dental?

Your treatment expectations will depend upon the type of orthodontic treatment you choose. For all orthodontic treatments, you can expect to visit Dream Dental intermittently so Dr. Kim can monitor your progress and make adjustments as necessary. Additionally, you can also expect to feel some soreness when adjustments are made. This is simply your teeth’s response to the constant pressure and it can be easily managed with over the counter pain medications.

Traditional metal braces/Ceramic braces:

Your treatment will begin by placing the braces. If your back teeth are especially close together, then a spacer will likely be placed a week before your braces placement appointment. Spacers are tiny rubber discs that sit between your molars and create enough space for the bands to go around.

To place the braces, your teeth will first be cleaned and dried. Then a small dot of glue is applied to the tooth and a bracket is placed on top. A blue curing light is then used to help the glue set faster. It is important that your teeth remain dry during the application process so the glue can bond properly. This process will be repeated until every tooth has a bracket attached.

Woman smiling with ceramic braces

The next step is to anchor the braces by placing a metal band around your molars. First, Dr. Kim will determine the correct size of the band, then he will apply glue to the band before sliding it on to your tooh. Once the bands are in place, the final step is to place the arch wire and bands.

With traditional metal braces, the brackets, bands, and archwire will be metallic, while the ceramic braces will be tooth-colored. As treatment continues, you will have the archwire adjusted to move your teeth. Additional tools, such as rubber bands or chains, may also be used to adjust your bite as well.

Invisalign:

Before receiving your aligners, Dr. Kim will take a digital scan of your mouth so that your aligners can be customized. ClinCheck® software will also be used to show you the anticipated results, as well as to give an estimated treatment length.

Woman placing clear aligner in her mouth

Because Invisalign uses removable aligners, there is not need for a placement appointment. However, in some cases SmartForce® attachments may need to be used. These are tiny, tooth colored shapes that sit below the aligners and deliver focused force to specific areas. If these are to be used, they can easily be cemented to your tooth.

During your Invisalign treatment, you will wear your aligners at all times except when eating, brushing, or flossing. Every few weeks you will switch out your aligner to the next until all the aligners have been used and your treatment is complete.

How long does orthodontic treatment last?

The length of your orthodontic treatment will depend upon the severity of your case at the beginning. In the case of Invisalign, it will also depend upon whether or not you wear your aligners as directed. For individuals using metal or ceramic braces, the average treatment length is about 1.5 to 3 years and for Invisalign the average is about 1 year.

It is important to note that the average treatment time for traditional braces is slightly longer because traditional braces can treat more severe cases of misalignment and malocclusion than Invisalign can. The average orthodontic treatment time, no matter what the method, is usually only about 1-2 years.

What can I expect after orthodontic treatment?

After your orthodontic treatment has been completed, you can expect to wear a retainer. Retainers are an important part of treatment success because they keep teeth in the correct position while new bone develops around them, holding them in their permanent position. Often retainers are worn full time right after treatment ends, and then they gradually transition to only being worn at night.

There are two common different types of retainers that you may be interested in using. One of the most common is the Hawley retainer, which is made from plastic and acrylic. The other is the Vivera® retainer by Invisalign. Just like their aligners, the retainer is completely clear and blends with your teeth.

Dream Dental is committed to providing an exceptional dental experience to patients in Torrance, Palos Verdes, Gardena, and the surrounding South Bay areas. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Paul H. Kim today!

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