Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry whose aim is to correct positional abnormalities of the teeth or jaw bones.
A deficient occlusion will lead to overstraining of the dento-maxillary apparatus, which will have an adverse evolution, with manifestations such as pain and limitation of functional movements.
On the other hand, orthodontic treatment visibly improves the appearance of the arches, achieving aesthetic alignment of all teeth.
This is also the main reason why patients seek orthodontic services, their desire for aesthetic improvement.
Orthodontic treatment consists of 3 main steps
Correction of the relationship between the jawbone and the mandibular bone – also known as dentofacial orthopedics and is only possible to perform in children when the bones are still growing, so the development process can be influenced.
It is carried out by the orthodontist using removable appliances which are kept in the oral cavity for a number of months directly proportional to the severity of the discrepancy between the two bones.
Orthodontics itself – can be carried out at any age and involves aligning the teeth on the dental arches, respecting the normal axes and relationships so as not to lead to further parafunctions. Orthodontic appliances are fitted to the visible buccal surface of the teeth and different materials can be used, depending on the patient’s aesthetic requirements
Application of retainers – once orthodontic treatment is complete, the teeth will be secured together so that they do not change position over time, by means of orally mounted bars on the inner surface of the teeth, called retainers. These can be maintained for life.
For each of these stages, the orthodontist will use various materials adapted to the needs of the treatment and the aesthetic requirements of the patient.
Metal-based orthodontic materials
Materials made of nickel, chromium, iron and carbon alloys are used in the form of wires, brackets or rings.
Rings – are usually applied to molars, to stabilize the orthodontic appliance at the back
Brackets – are a metal or plastic piece that is applied to each tooth. They are provided with a retainer where the springs will be positioned.
The springs – connect the brackets and apply the force needed to move the teeth into the desired position.
Restraint bands – applied at the end of orthodontic treatment to prevent further movement of the teeth.
The first brackets to appear were made of gold. But after the advent of stainless steel, stainless steel remained the material of choice.
Aesthetic orthodontic materials
Because of their characteristic color, metal materials are considered to be unsightly. This is why orthodontics allows the use of other materials, which are close in color to the teeth. This gives us the following possibilities:
Ceramic fiber springs
Metal springs that are subsequently colored – they can be white or any other color desired by the patient
Composite materials, conventional or modified glass-ionomers are used in orthodontics to bond brackets to the tooth surface.
Elastics are made of polymeric materials and are used to correct certain tooth movements.
Orthodontic appliance treatment is complex and the duration of treatment cannot be determined at the outset. This may be dictated by the severity of the positional abnormalities, the patient’s individual characteristics and the patient’s consistency in following the appointments and indications given by the orthodontist.