When teeth are misaligned, the visual effects on your smile can be obvious. However, malocclusion does more than just impact how your smile looks; it can also throw your bite off balance and increase your risks of developing serious oral health issues. To prevent such issues from developing as a result of poor tooth alignment, your orthodontist may recommend wearing braces, which gently and gradually force teeth into more symmetrical positions. By correcting malocclusion with orthodontic braces, you can improve the long-term health and integrity of your teeth while simultaneously improving your smile’s overall appearance.

How Braces Work

Orthodontic braces consist of small brackets that are semi-permanently bonded on to your teeth. The brackets are connected by an arch wire, which your orthodontist periodically tightens to provide the force that moves your teeth. Though traditional braces are made from metal, modern orthodontics includes a variety of more discreet options, including tooth-colored brackets and wires that don’t stand out conspicuously against your teeth. Tooth realignment must be performed carefully to allow your periodontal tissues time to adjust, and in many cases, orthodontic braces must be worn for 1-2 years to achieve desirable results.

Alternatives to Braces

For older teen and adult patients who suffer malocclusion but wish to avoid wearing conventional braces, orthodontists may recommend clear aligners, such as Invisalign®. Unlike braces, clear aligners do not rely on brackets and arch wires. Instead, they are designed to fit snugly over your teeth, and because they’re made from virtually invisible plastic, they’re unnoticeable even up close. Clear aligners come in a series, typically of six, with each aligner designed to achieve a certain degree of tooth movement. By the time you’ve progressed through the series, the aligners will have guided your teeth into straighter, more attractive positions.