One of the most common questions I hear from parents during initial orthodontic consultation visits is “Are braces the same as when I had them?” This is a loaded question. In many ways, the same basic principles are still being used today. However, many aspects of both braces and orthodontic treatment have changed (and continue to change). After all, most people are no longer using their flip phones and dial-up internet. Orthodontics has evolved with technology as well! So today I will touch on just a few of the changes in braces in the last few decades.
Over the last few decades, the advent of ceramic, clear braces and Invisalign have expanded orthodontic treatment options. Just a few decades ago, metal orthodontic bands were used to keep the braces on the teeth. However, orthodontic supply companies have continued to introduce better and better options for clear and ceramic braces. Additionally, Invisalign continues to develop and improve their clear aligners every year. These esthetic and nearly invisible options appeal to both teens and adults. Companies are now working hard to perfect clear wires as well!
Though there are some patients that still might benefit from headgear, many orthodontists no longer use headgear for routine treatment. Once again, an introduction of new technology has made it possible to treat these patients with new and different technology. Not many kids enjoyed wearing headgear during the day and at school. Now alterative treatment modalities can be more discreet and remove the need for patient compliance. They are many different alternatives to headgear that your orthodontist might recommend.
In the days of Amazon Prime 2-day shipping and on-demand streaming, everyone wants everything done as fast as possible. Orthodontics has responded to the same need for speed, and many companies continue to discover new and inventive ways to speed up treatment time. However, orthodontic and braces tooth movement still rely on a biological process of tooth movement. The teeth only move so fast in the gums and jaw bones. While orthodontic treatment has gotten much more efficient, many of the technologies have not been proven to dramatically change treatment time.
In the past, paying for braces and orthodontic treatment was very difficult for many families. However, most orthodontists now offer a wide variety of flexible financial options to pay for orthodontic treatment. Also, many dental insurance companies offer an orthodontic benefit that can help make treatment affordable. Orthodontic treatment is now possible for all families and financial situations. Check out my previous blog entry on how to make orthodontic treatment affordable for more ideas.
More to come on this topic…stay tuned!