What Makes Today's Braces So Much Better
If you were getting orthodontic treatment 20 years ago, you could expect to be wearing conspicuous and uncomfortable braces for what would seem like ages.
Braces have evolved rapidly since then. They now fit better, produce superior results, and in some cases are barely noticeable. They also work faster, and shorter treatment means less time off school for kids and less time off work for mom and dad.
What makes today’s braces so much better than just 20 years ago is cutting-edge technology that’s revolutionized how braces are designed and made.
Widely regarded as the biggest game-changer in dental technology came nearly 20 years ago with the 2000 launch of removable clear plastic aligners as an alternative to conventional fixed metal braces.
Traditional braces have also come a long way during this time, with many more types available, for adults and children alike.
Discreet and Stylish Options with Modern Conventional Braces
Advances in research and technology offer today’s orthodontic patients far more choice in how they straighten their teeth with standard braces to get an awesome smile.
These options suit a wide variety of patient demand, whether you’re looking for a discreet solution or want to make a fashion statement with your braces.
For instance, you can now choose from:
- Tooth-colored braces.
- Silver braces.
- Gold-colored braces.
- Braces that go behind your teeth.
- Braces with no brackets.
If you’re getting braces with brackets, they come with a variety of choices, too, such as:
- Braces with tiny brackets.
- Brackets without rubber bands.
- Brackets in fun shapes.
If you want to have more fun with your braces, you can choose from a selection of colors for the rubber bands that hold the wires to the brackets. And the adhesive that holds the brackets to your teeth can be made to release fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay.
Even into the 1990s, metal braces were larger than today’s versions. They often cut into gums and cheeks, and could even involve having to wear headgear. Today, metal braces are far lighter and smaller, and less likely to cause abrasions.
Clear or tooth-colored ceramic braces are also available, with the advantage of moving your teeth faster than plastic aligners.
Space-Age Tech – in Your Mouth!
We can thank NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for one aspect of the technology behind contemporary braces.
The archwires of braces can now be made from ground-breaking materials that gradually exert the pressure needed to move teeth in response to the natural heat of your mouth. Because these wires are being moved between adjustments made by your orthodontist, they straighten your teeth faster.
They are made from an alloy of titanium and nickel that reacts to heat at mouth temperature. Compared with older versions of archwires, these nickel-titanium wires are more comfortable because they apply gentler pressure without the need for repeated tightening. They also last longer, requiring fewer visits to your orthodontist.
The last 20 years have also seen the introduction of new types of self-ligating braces, which have smaller brackets and sliding clips to hold wires in place instead of elastic bands.
Self-ligating braces can now also contain memory wires (the Damon system) to reposition teeth even faster and with fewer visits for modifications.
While the stainless-steel archwires of regular braces can lose tension with time, memory wire keeps its shape to apply optimum pressure on teeth, which means fewer dental visits over the course of your orthodontic treatment.
To meet increasing aesthetic expectations of patients, non-metallic wire materials were developed in the mid-2000s, using Teflon or epoxy resin.
How Invisalign Changed Orthodontics
The turn of the century heralded a massive breakthrough in orthodontics – the advanced technology of Invisalign plastic aligners1.
The Invisalign system was developed by Align Technology, the U.S.-based global medical appliance company, which says Invisalign appliances are the most advanced clear aligners in the world.
Invisalign can be used to treat simple or complex cases and, according to the company, costs roughly the same as standard braces.
As the name implies, Invisalign devices are virtually unnoticeable. They’re also removable, which makes oral hygiene much easier than with conventional fixed braces and allows you to continue to eat hard foods, which can damage the wires and brackets of standard braces.
Invisalign makes use of 3D digital imaging, a non-invasive process compared with traditional impressions, which can be particularly unpleasant if you have a strong gag reflex.
In 2008, Align Technology launched Invisalign Teen aligners, specifically for teenagers, and taking into account the development of the teen jaw.
The Smile You Dream Of – Made Easier Than Ever
Braces, as we know them today, came into being during the 1970s, and since then have undergone incredible transformations to make them more effective and comfortable – particularly during the last 20 years.
With advances including space-age materials and digital design and manufacture, modern dental technology makes getting a healthy smile easier and faster than ever.
If you’re hesitating about getting orthodontic treatment for yourself or your kids, based on apprehension about painful, unsightly braces, rest assured that today's braces are so much better than they were even 20 years ago.
Besides major improvements in materials, cutting-edge 3D scanning and digital X-rays have greatly enhanced orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning over the last 20 years, making for a better patient experience overall.
Orthodontics is a constantly evolving area of dentistry that provides diagnostic and treatment techniques that are continually improving ways to straighten teeth more effectively and more comfortably.
Which Type of Advanced Braces Are Right for You?
The most dramatic orthodontic results are achieved by orthodontic specialists who keep up to speed with advances in technology through continuing education and invest in the latest orthodontic materials and equipment to give their patients the best possible experience.
The only problem with the vast choice of braces available today, compared with 20 years ago, is deciding which type is best for you or your kids. An experienced orthodontist2 can advise you on this, based on a thorough evaluation of the specific orthodontic problem.