Children and adults are excited when they first get braces because they look forward to the smile improvements orthodontic treatment brings. They’re equally excited about reaching the end of treatment and getting all of those appliances removed from their teeth.
We offer an orthodontic system that gets patients to the treatment finish line in record time with ideal results: self-ligating braces.
Conventional braces involve three appliances: the bracket, which is bonded to your teeth; the arch wire, which is connected to each bracket and applies the forces required for tooth movement; and a ligature, which is a tiny elastic band that secures the arch wire to each bracket.
Self-ligating brackets eliminate the need for ligatures because the brackets include a mechanical device for securing the nickel-titanium arch wire in place. We use a highly precise, innovative self-ligating system here in our office that is manufactured by Forestadent.
The brackets are available in metal, or in translucent ceramic for a more aesthetic treatment.
Benefits of Self-Ligating Brackets
The elimination of the elastic ligature means there is one less appliance that could come loose or break between appointments that would force you to come in for an emergency repair.
The current generation of self-ligating brackets has a lower profile and features rounded edges for increased comfort. Researchers designed the base of the bracket to offer optimum fit for all tooth shapes.
The combination of no ligatures and lower profile brackets presents oral health benefits. There are fewer surfaces where food particles can collect and plaque can develop. Oral hygiene is particularly important throughout your orthodontic treatment, because getting a cavity could set your treatment schedule back.
Self-ligating braces provide more torque, which enables orthodontists to achieve tooth movement in record time, with fewer appointments needed to make adjustments. This orthodontic treatment system also decreases friction during the leveling and aligning treatment stages, which paves the way for more efficient delivery of the proper force level. Low friction also is useful when you have spaces between your teeth that we need to close.
You might think the greater the force, the faster the tooth movement. The opposite is true.
Self-ligating brackets provide an appropriate level of low force to stimulate more effective tooth movement without interfering with blood supply.
“Low force, low-friction systems allow teeth to travel to their physiologic position because they do not overpower the musculature or compromise the periodontal tissues,” wrote Maen Zreaqat and Rozita Hassan in an article about self-ligating brackets.
Applying too much force during orthodontic treatment can cut off blood supply in the gum tissue and subsequently bring tooth movement to a halt. Self-ligating braces make it possible for teeth to move into their proper alignment via the path of least resistance.
This innovative alignment method enables your teeth to move more efficiently because they are permitted to move individually, Zreaquat and Hassan wrote.
Even the nickel-titanium arch wires used in self-ligating braces are a treatment benefit. These wires act like elastic by returning to their original shape when deformed.
What does that mean in terms of treatment? In the beginning stage, we often use the nickel-titanium wires to apply gentle forces on the crooked teeth to align them. A variation of these arch wires is heat-activated, which makes it possible for them to hold the deformed configuration at room temperature, but the wire returns to its original shape once it reaches the temperature of your mouth, according to Archwired.com. Translated, this means we can bend it to attach into the brackets, but once in place, your oral temperature will cause the wire to attempt to revert to its original arch, thus bringing your teeth along for the ride. This gentle force draws your teeth into proper alignment. Neat, huh?
Types of Malocclusion Treated with Self-Ligating Braces
Overjet/Overbite– These two terms often get used interchangeably, but they mean different types of malocclusion. Overjet is when the upper front teeth jut outward in front of the lower front teeth. People commonly call this “buck teeth.” Overbite is the term that describes upper teeth that overlap the lower teeth more than they should. A study conducted in 2012 found that self-ligating braces achieved more arch width increase than conventional braces to achieve better treatment outcomes for these malocclusions.
Underbite– This is when the lower jaw and teeth are in a forward position and the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth when the jaws are closed. This type of malocclusion can require surgical correction if patients reach adulthood before addressing the issue. Identifying and treating underbite in growing children can eliminate the need for tooth extractions and surgery later in life. Orthodontic treatment with conventional braces can take more than two years. Self-ligating braces often provide highly successful treatment in 18 months, thanks to light forces and low friction.
Crowding– Tooth crowding can be corrected by widening the palate, shifting the teeth into different positions, or sometimes both. Self-ligating braces are successful at moving the incisors farther apart from each other, as well as moving them forward a bit to create more room, according to an article in The Angle Orthodontist.
Diastema– Diastema is spacing between teeth. Think Madonna, Anna Paquin and Michael Strahan. Self-ligating braces typically are a great way to close unwanted gaps between the teeth. However, some cases of diastema – particularly between the front two upper teeth – require treatment with a surgical procedure called a frenectomy, followed by braces. Frenectomy is the surgical removal of a flap of skin that prevents the teeth from resting side by side.
Crossbite– This type of malocclusion prevents the teeth in the upper and lower jaws from aligning properly from side to side. The outer edges of the upper molars may line up inside the inner edges of the lower molars. In other cases, the lower jaw may be slightly out of alignment with the upper jaw, causing the lower teeth to rest inside the dental arch on one side of the mouth and outside the arch on the other side. Our Raleigh, NC dental friends, Lane and Associates, often state that many patients have crossbite and need orthodontic treatment.
A comprehensive orthodontic exam can determine whether self-ligating braces are a good treatment option for you. Call today if you would like to schedule an appointment for yourself or your child.