Wireless Revolution: Braces Aren’t What They Used To Be
April is National Oral Health Month. Here is a tracking of the wireless evolution in dentistry and moving beyond old-school orthodontics.
“Don’t worry. They’re nothing like they used to be,” said orthodontist Dr. Bruno Vendittelli, when he informed me I needed to wear braces … again.
Back in my 20s, traditional wire orthodontics gave me a perfectly aligned smile and, for decades, I faithfully wore a retainer to keep my teeth neat and straight. But recently, the centreline of my upper teeth was no longer lining up with the centreline of my lower teeth.
During a checkup with my regular dentist, Dr. Jordan Soll gave me a diagnosis: “crowding, shifting and grinding.” He concluded the likely reason was simply due to age.
Studies show that as bone density changes, the lower jaw shrinks, thereby pushing once perfectly aligned teeth closer together and crowding them. Mesial drift (teeth shifting to the front of the jaw) and distal drift (teeth shifting to the back) are other common effects over time. Left untreated, teeth could chip, crack or cause aches in the jaw.
“Getting long in the tooth” would need a second round of braces, using new technology, to refix my smile.
Wireless Fast Track
Straight Talk About Going Wireless
A few weeks later, I tried to relax in the dental chair as Beth, my dental technician,
bonded little button-like attachments to selected teeth to hold the aligners in place and guide the tooth’s movement. The procedure was painless. “They’re a very close match to your natural tooth colour,” she said.
Still, when I got home and looked in the mirror, I thought, “Wow. Anyone standing within two feet of me can totally see them.”
So much for invisible. They also felt really uncomfortable and caught painfully as I moved my tongue across my teeth.
Every six weeks, Vendittelli would assess if my teeth were moving correctly before handing over the next few sets of aligners. Part of the treatment to fix the crowding of my lower teeth also required creating space by shaving down a small amount of enamel to accommodate movement. Vendittelli used a polishing, strip-like metal floss, pushed between my teeth to create a slight gap between them and assured me that removing small parts of the enamel was not damaging to the tooth.
After 14 long months – albeit four less than the initial plan – Vendittelli looked at my teeth and said the corrective work was complete and the button-like attachments could be removed.
On my last visit, a small wire was attached to the back of the front teeth to hold them in place, and I was custom fitted for a night guard to help prevent grinding. I’ll never forget the feeling when handed the mirror and I smiled widely with confidence for the first time in years.
It was a long process but well worth the end result; my centreline is perfect, my whole countenance looks healthy and refreshed.