A Complete Guide To Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment
It is really easy to get confused, when hearing the term “comprehensive orthodontic treatment“. However, despite the fancy name, it is just the most common kind of orthodontic treatment, which focuses on the management of already existing orthodontic disorders, such as the misalignment of various teeth, malocclusion, and jaw dysfunction. In this way, comprehensive orthodontic treatment is aimed at correcting one’s bite in the most anatomically way possible.
At What Age is It Best to Start Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment?
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, comprehensive orthodontic treatment can be successful at any type or stage of dentition. However, dental care experts generally recommend starting with it as early as possible.
This means at a primary dentition stage, which covers the age of 5-6 years, or at the mixed dentition stage for patients of 7-12 years of age.
The key factor is that it is much quicker and easier to correct orthodontic irregularities at an early age. In addition, young patients are usually much more cooperative than teenage ones. And finally, comprehensive orthodontic treatment for young children will take less time than it does for adult patients.
However, as I have already mentioned, this does not mean that comprehensive orthodontic treatment is designed exclusively for children. The same benefits can be shared by adult patients in their permanent stage of dentition. The only “but” is that comprehensive orthodontic corrections in adults do require a longer treatment period and often there is the need for some additional orthodontic procedures and appliances, apart from wearing the ones mentioned below.
What Are the Stages Involved for Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment?
The process for the creation of the perfect bite can be divided into three main stages. The first one involves a physical examination by your orthodontist, who will assess the level and alignment of the teeth.
The second stage of comprehensive orthodontic treatment presupposes correction of the relationship of the molars and the closure of spaces between the teeth. Apart from the traditional conservative orthodontic treatment techniques, this is also likely to include the extraction of crowded teeth and / or orthodontic surgery.
The final comprehensive stage of orthodontic treatment is the supportive management of the orthodontic problem, which requires the wearing of retainers and individual follow-up treatment.
What Appliances Does Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment Use?
Fixed complex orthodontic appliances are used for comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Usually, these are traditional, removable or fully bonded orthodontic braces, which are today available in a wide variety of designs and materials.
Their functioning principle is aimed at moving misaligned, crooked, crowded, missing or extra teeth into the proper anatomical position in order to create a healthier and more attractive smile.
However, major malocclusion cases might require the use of more complex arch wires, such as the Begg appliance, or even sequences of arch wires in the course of comprehensive orthodontic treatment.
However, the choice of such advanced orthodontic appliances is individual and should be thoroughly discussed with your orthodontist.
No matter what system of braces are used, comprehensive orthodontic treatment should be discontinued gradually and involve the use of retainers in the final stages of treatment.
What are the Modern Types of Orthodontic Braces?
Modern orthodontics is not restricted anymore to the option of traditional stainless braces for the treatment of comprehensive orthodontic, as it used to be years ago. However, the traditional bands are still presently on the orthodontic appliances market as the most affordable option.
These appliances take the form of metal brackets, adjusted to metal bands, bonded around each tooth. However, stainless steel braces have a poor visual look, may cause some staining of the teeth enamel, and are not recommended for patients allergic to nickel.
Good traditional band options are gold and ceramic braces, which a widely used in comprehensive orthodontic treatment. The latter option is also known as clear braces. Despite their brittleness, they provide the perfect visual look.
There is no doubt that braces “beat” the two latter options, when it comes to comprehensive orthodontic treatment, as they are not only quite affordable, but also do not require complicated band-type structures. These small appliances get bonded to the front surface of each tooth and are traditionally made of stainless steel.
But nowadays braces are available in all the possible imagined colors and shades, and are fabricated from a number of materials. For instance, patients often choose porcelain or plastic ones for esthetic reasons, as they look almost invisible, and they may even be clear or imitate the natural tooth color. On the other hand, these braces can cause additional friction when you eat or talk, which might prolong the treatment time.
Patients undergoing comprehensive orthodontic treatment often feel ready to pay more to get lingual-type braces, as they are totally invisible from the side view as they get bonded to the back side of the patient’s tooth.
The hi-tech Invisalign braces also have a lot of fans, as they not only share the advantages of the lingual-type braces but are also removable, which adds extra comfort during the treatment time of comprehensive orthodontic work.
But the most comfortable, and consequently most expensive option is Damon braces. Thanks to “sliding door” technology, these orthodontic braces considerably lower the friction and require the minimum period for comprehensive orthodontic treatment.
Starting Braces in Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment
Your orthodontist will first perform a complete dental examination to check for decayed teeth and include an x-ray of the head. The x-ray gives the orthodontist important information about the direction of bone growth, the relationship between the upper and lower jaws, and upper teeth to lower teeth, and if there are any missing, extra or wisdom teeth. All this is important for your orthodontist to make the proper diagnosis and create a beautiful smile and functional bite.
How Long Will the Whole Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment Course Take?
Depending on factors such as the growth rate of the patient’s face and mouth, age, and the severity of the orthodontic problem,, comprehensive orthodontic treatment generally takes 18-24 months for severe problems, affecting the full set of teeth. The crowding of minor front teeth can be managed by your orthodontist in 9-18 months.
Why does Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment Sometimes Last Longer than Estimated?
An orthodontist cannot predict exactly how long the orthodontic treatment will last. They can only give estimates as everyone grows at a different rate and responds differently to the treatment.
Orthodontists have different goals for different patients; and it’s only when these goals are reached that they will consider the treatment complete.
No matter how long their estimation may be, the patient’s cooperation is very important to ensure they reach their goals.
It’s only if the patient cooperates and wears the necessary rubber bands, headgear and other associated appliances as needed that the chances are higher of completing the treatment on time, with excellent results.
Definition of Patient Cooperation and its Importance in Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment
Patient cooperation means that the patient follows the orthodontist’s instructions for wearing the prescribed appliances, practices healthy oral hygiene, and follows a healthy diet. Comprehensive orthodontic treatment is successful only if both the orthodontist and the patient cooperate and are consistent with the treatment.
Not only must the patient wear the necessary rubber bands and headgear, but they must also carefully clean their teeth, avoid foods that may damage their braces, and maintain all scheduled appointments.
Any appliance that gets damaged during the treatment lengthens the procedural time, and may also change the outcome of the treatment. It is only if the patient consistently wears the necessary appliances as prescribed that the teeth and jaw will slowly move towards their desired positions to give perfectly aligned teeth and a sparkling smile!
And finally, do not hesitate about starting early comprehensive orthodontic treatment, as these seemingly time-consuming and tiresome procedures are a worthwhile and practical investment for your future beautiful smile!