“You need braces.” Those three little words can strike fear into the heart of any middle schooler, middle-ager or beyond, and anyone footing the bill. But if those three words conjure up nightmares of a smile studded with big silver squares, eons spent in the orthodontist’s chair or your dream vacation fund being emptied, think again. Newer technologies in orthodontics make the path to straighter teeth and a beautiful smile a more pleasant experience than the stereotype would have you believe.
“First of all, your time in treatment is a lot less than it used to be,” Dr. Nick Savastano of Charleston Orthodontic Specialists explained. “On a daily basis, patients tell me their parents and grandparents talk about having braces for so much longer, but today’s technology allows us to give better diagnoses and create better treatment plans.”
Treatment times can vary from as little as six months to more than two years, depending on the severity of the problem and cooperation of the patient but on average take between one and two years.
BRACES AND WIRE ADVANCEMENTS
The technology of braces themselves, he added, has greatly improved in recent years.
“Braces are smaller, and the wire basically has memory built into it, which allows the braces to work more efficiently,” Dr. Savastano said.
In the past, braces were known to be painful, in part due to a traditional wire system that created significant friction between the wire and bracket while helping guide the teeth into place.
Today, a more passive system uses a slide mechanism that allows the wire to glide freely without friction, so the patient is more comfortable as the teeth slowly move to where they should be going. The new design is especially useful to alleviate overcrowding and has decreased the need for pulling teeth.
Even the braces themselves are customizable and come in endless options for all budgets and styles. Made from the same medical-grade steel as traditional braces, kids who want to flash their own unique smile can choose from a variety of shapes like flowers, hearts, diamonds and stars.
“A lot of kids don’t want ‘boring’ braces. They can customize their look at each appointment with different colored bands and make it fun,” Dr. Savastano said. “We are the only office in the greater Charleston area to have licensed Clemson and USC mascot braces by WildSmiles. There are other mascots available, but, around here, of course, the kids love showing off their favorite team.”
Children and young adults hoping for a more discreet look are in luck as well – ceramic braces are designed to blend in with tooth enamel.
In addition to ceramic braces, adults have the option to choose silver or gold colored braces.
Many adults opt for a more aesthetically appealing option: lingual braces or Invisalign treatments.
Lingual braces have actually been around since the 1980s, but they weren’t common back then because special training was required to install them. Technology, however, has changed that. Charleston Orthodontic Specialists offers Harmony Lingual invisible braces from American Orthodontics. Harmony Lingual uses digital scans of each patient’s teeth to create customized, robotically formed wires. Working similarly to traditional braces, lingual braces are glued to the lingual, or tongue, side of your teeth so they are out of view but move teeth more gradually.
Clear aligners such as Invisalign offer an alternative to braces altogether.
“We scan your teeth digitally – no more gooey molds – and send those along with a treatment plan for aligners to be fabricated, which takes about three to four weeks,” Dr. Savastano explained. “Most of our patients can go two months between appointments, so another benefit is less time in the orthodontist’s office.”
Invisalign aligners are designed to fit snugly and move teeth very gradually. Typically, they are changed weekly to the next set and are engineered to progress with the treatment plan created by your orthodontist. Patients can take these trays out when they eat, making it possible to consume foods typically off limits for braces and making flossing and brushing easier.
In addition to technological advancements to pull teeth into place, technological advancements that put less pressure on the purse strings open the door to a straighter smile for almost anyone.
“Financing software is perhaps one of the most significant recent advances in orthodontics because it makes treatment more affordable,” said Dr. Savastano. “Particularly at Charleston Orthodontic Specialists, we are able to start anyone for as low as $250 down for braces or Invisalign, and most patients can pay as low as $145 monthly, usually with up to 36 months financing.”
These financing software programs offer flexible payment options tailored to each patient’s lifestyle, so a payment plan can be created to fit within your budget without outside financing or complicated credit checks.
“Financing braces or Invisalign is an obstacle that keeps many people from getting the treatment they need, but using financing software specific to the orthodontic industry has helped us eliminate that obstacle,” said Dr. Savastano.
If you have been considering improving your teeth and smile, contact an orthodontist today to discuss how braces or aligners can help put you on the right path toward a straighter, more confident smile.