Usually but not exclusively a problem affecting younger patients, the treatment of crooked or misaligned teeth is called orthodontistry. This is an aspect of dentistry Pat McSherry, our Consultant Orthodontist, specialises in. Having made an assessment of what is required, he will specify a course of treatment using fixed or removable braces, which are gradually adjusted at regular appointments as your teeth alignment improves. Some modern braces are almost invisible and have little in common with their historical counterparts.
A bit of history
Crooked teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean and are at a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease. The attempts to correct the “bite” go back a few hundred years.
Early dental devices resembled something from a B rated horror movie. Imagine having to appear at school wearing one of these contraptions.
Over the years braces slowly started to improve, but they didn’t change much until the middle of the 20th century. By the way, if you had braces in, say, 1932, your braces were probably made of real gold, platinum, or silver, and occasionally steel.
After the war orthodontists moved away from the precious metals and were more likely to use zinc, copper, ivory, brass, or even wood.
Headgears were used a lot in the mid-20th century to solve severe bite problems. Think of headgears as braces times two.
While regular braces straighten teeth, headgears were used to fix “bite issues” like overbites, underbites etc. Your grandparents might still remember this charming head gear on the left.
Braces of the past were almost always developed with the same material – stainless steel – and attached the front surfaces of the teeth. If you grew up in the 1950s or 60s or watched television programs from that era, you know that braces were anything but cool.
The message you got about braces was simple: nerd-wear, incredibly geeky, and totally unattractive. Once you got them, your social life was ruined.
Braces and the Pop Culture
The late ’90s and the first decade of year 2000 brought a totally different twist on braces. Suddenly they became a cool fashion accessory.
Pop icons such as No Doubt front woman Gwen Stefani proudly displayed them on stage.
Grillz – yes, that’s the conventionally accepted spelling – started popping up not just among “ghetto” hip-hop performers, but as a well-recognised fashion accessory worn by international stars such as Madonna, Beyonce and Katie Perry.
Modern braces –Virtually invisible, Shorter Treatment Time and Less Pain
Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and arch-wires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding coloured elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colourful smile.
If budget is not an issue, you can also have ceramic braces which are either tooth coloured or completely clear.
They can also be used with tooth coloured wires to make them even less visible.
The arch wires can also be made of nickel- or copper-titanium rather than steel. These metal alloys are temperature-sensitive and tighten when exposed to the mouth’s warm temperature.
The pressure on the teeth using arch wires made of these metals is more moderate, which means less pain at the beginning of treatment and during adjustment. Further, these metals are more durable, meaning fewer trips to the orthodontist.
Contact Wellington Quay Dental Centre today on 041 983 8740 or use the form on the Contact Us page to book your initial consultation.
Orthodontic Case Studies
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