What’s Changed in the Last 20 Years of Orthodontics

By July 21, 2017Orthodontics

What’s Changed in the Last 20 Years of OrthodonticsSometimes adults are hesitant when it comes to seeking orthodontic treatment for themselves or their children because they have memories of what it involved when they were younger. Well, let us put your mind at ease. Orthodontics is an ever evolving field and we’re able to treat patients more efficiently, effectively and comfortably than ever before. The constant advances are one of the reasons Dr. Lee is so dedicated to continuing education and investing in the latest orthodontic technology at Evergreen Orthodontics. We want our patients to achieve gorgeous smiles as quickly as possible and look and feel great while doing it. So, how has orthodontics changed over the years? Here are some of the most notable ways the field has been revolutionized.

Increased Comfort

Throughout the history of orthodontics, there have been some treatments that would make modern day patients a little squeamish. For example, in the mid-1700s, Pierre Fauchard, the “father of modern dentistry,” used to operate on patients with forceps and use force to shift the teeth into position and then tie them to adjoining teeth to keep them in place. Ouch! Thankfully, that’s not how it’s done these days. But you’re probably wondering how have braces changed since you were a kid?

Even two decades ago, braces were larger, reliably cut up the cheeks and gums, often involved headgear and had to be tightened frequently, leading to discomfort. Today, your traditional metal braces are much smaller, lighter and less likely to cause abrasions or need to be adjusted every two weeks. Self-ligating braces were around for some time but really entered the picture in their current form in the mid- to late-1990s. Self-ligating braces don’t require ties or ligatures and instead rely on a slide mechanism and memory wires. The reduced friction, streamlined design and need for fewer adjustments make them more comfortable.

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Possibly the most well-known of the latest orthodontic techniques for getting smiles into tip-top shape are Invisalign and Invisalign Teen. Invisalign was first sold in North America in 1999. When it comes to comfort, the smooth plastic aligners have no hardware or sharp edges so you’ll barely notice they’re there once you get acclimated to them. Since the aligners are created based on a precise 3D model of your mouth, the fit is perfect. They really are supremely comfortable. The actual treatment planning process for Invisalign also involves less discomfort since we use digital impressions (no gagging on goopy molds!).

Speedier, More Dramatic Results

Twenty years ago, or even ten years ago, orthodontic treatment could take a really, really long time. While more and more adults are seeking out braces and Invisalign, some still avoid it because they think they’ll be glued to the orthodontist’s chair for years. Well, fear not! Recent advances in orthodontics ensure you’ll be in and out of braces or Invisalign before you know it.

We use technology developed by NASA when it comes to our arch wires. They’re made from innovative, heat-activated materials so they gradually take shape and apply pressure to shift your teeth into place as they come into contact with the heat from your mouth. Since the wires are moving in between adjustments, your teeth straighten in less time. With self-ligating braces, memory wires are held in place with tiny sliding doors and can move teeth even faster than other treatment options and with fewer visits to the orthodontist since they don’t need to be adjusted very often. The precision of Invisalign, and the special software we use to specify tooth movements, also means treatment time can be reduced thanks to improved predictability.

In addition to orthodontic treatment working faster, it can also bring about even more dramatic results. There’s no longer a one-size-fits-all approach to treating patients. There are so many options, we can customize treatment to fit each individual’s needs. Cases that would have required jaw surgery at other times in orthodontic history, can now be treated with braces or Invisalign combined with certain appliances or even braces or Invisalign alone.

Attractive Treatments

Braces used to require rather large, gleaming, metal brackets. That’s a thing of the past. While, yes, you can still opt for metal braces, they’re much more aesthetically pleasing with smaller brackets and thinner wires. Colorful elastics even let patients add a little personality to their braces. Self-ligating braces, available in metal and clear options, have even smaller brackets than traditional ones.

Clear ceramic braces are crafted from a durable, translucent material that blends into your teeth making them a lot less noticeable than metal braces. For complete invisibility, lingual braces can be placed on the back of the teeth on the tongue-side. When you smile, no one can see them. These are the most discreet of all of the options. Though, Invisalign and Invisalign Teen are also very discreet. The aligners are smooth, clear plastic and most people won’t be able to tell you’re wearing them.

Extremely Convenient

As we mentioned, traditional metal braces and clear braces involve smaller brackets and thinner wires, making them easier to care for and keep clean. Your food choices aren’t as restricted as they once were either. Self-ligating braces don’t even have elastics, so brushing and flossing is even simpler and the reduced number of appointments frees up your schedule. Yet, for the ultimate in convenience, we have Invisalign. The aligners are removable so you can take them out to eat, brush and floss or play an instrument. There aren’t any food restrictions and your oral hygiene will remain the same.

Things Went Digital

While this point ties into all of the previous points, including increased comfort and decreased treatment time, another of our favorite advances in orthodontic technology is digital treatment planning and diagnostic equipment. Digital x-rays are safer, more comfortable and efficient than their traditional counterparts. We can get a clear picture of your teeth and jaws to give you the best possible treatment. We also use special software to create a digital 3D model of our patients’ mouths for Invisalign treatment, so they can see what they’ll look like at every stage including the final results. Additionally, we’re able to specify the exact movements of each individual tooth, which ensures the aligners are perfectly molded to the mouth and work really efficiently.

At Evergreen Orthodontics, we’ve embraced the most cutting-edge treatments and technology to ensure our Vancouver and Coquitlam Invisalign, Invisalign Teen and braces patients absolutely love their new smiles and are able to breeze through treatment comfortably and quickly. With today’s options, there’s really something for everyone and your lifestyle doesn’t need to be drastically altered while you’re straightening your teeth. To take advantage of all that orthodontics has to offer, schedule your free consultation at Evergreen Orthodontics today and we’ll help you decide on the ideal treatment for your smile.

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