Most people in Los Angeles who make it to adulthood without having to spend a year with heavy metalwork in their mouths aren’t too eager to try. Braces are painful enough when you’re a teenager. Past the age of 20, it’s hard to garner much respect from your peers — or yourself, for that matter — when you’re walking around with a Chevy grill fastened to your teeth.
The modern landscape of cosmetic dentistry has actually advanced a great deal from the days when braces were akin to industrial machinery. Even calling it cosmetic dentistry is something of a misnomer. Crooked teeth, for example, are harder to clean and accumulate more plaque, leading to various “real” oral hygiene issues. Even metal braces are smaller and more discreet than ever before. In many cases, they can be placed on the back of teeth.
Enter the un-seeable fixers
And metal, reliable though it is, is by no means the cutting edge of corrective dental-wear.
The current trend in adult orthodontic care is toward invisible braces. These kinds of braces don’t work for children with growing teeth, which is okay, because children will forget all about the embarrassment of their heavy metal days, anyways.
Molded using synthetic plastics, invisible braces work similar to regular braces, minus the braces part. They’re transparent, and made to fit snug over your teeth. You take them off when you’re eating, brushing, and flossing, but apart from that, you wear them all day, comfortably, and without drawing stares from people worried that you’re a robot.
What’s the difference?
Not everyone in Los Angeles who wants invisible braces is necessarily qualified for them. Typically, people with certain types of teeth misalignment and severe structural problems will be better served by traditional metal braces. But for roughly 50% of patients – those with slight to mildly crooked teeth — studies using invisible braces have shown promising results.
The first plastic mold will be fitted at the onset of treatment. Then, periodically, as the teeth adjust to the new shape, new molds will be fitted. And so on, until the desired result is achieved.
In principle, the process is the same as getting metal braces tightened. In practice, it tends to be more gradual and, accordingly, more comfortable.
Feel is one of the advantages of invisible braces, the other main one being, of course, that they are invisible. Patients can also expect to do without the problems sometimes associated with the metalwork itself. Competitive athletes, for example, don’t have to worry about getting a wire lodged in their cheek from some incidental contact.