As mentioned in my previous post, a common question asked by patients enquiring about straightening their teeth is what is the difference between conventional orthodontic treatment and faster cosmetic orthodontic treatments.
The traditional comprehensive orthodontic treatment usually involves making sure that every upper and lower opposing teeth form a good interlocking relationship with each other, with the aim of teeth meeting in a ‘Class 1’ ideal relationship. The rationale behind this is that if the back molars align well together, and then the canines fit well together, then naturally the incisors will fall into a good aesthetically pleasing relationship with each other.
For some people, their teeth naturally lie near or close to this ideal relationship, and so little or no space is required to achieve this perfect alignment. This treatment the involves levelling and aligning the teeth, making space if needed by taking a small amount of enamel from between a few teeth, and then closing spaces.
For other people, they may have too many teeth to simply be able to align them for them to fall into the perfect relationship with each other, this is often described dentally as ‘crowding of teeth‘. In these situations it maybe necessary to remove teeth to make space, then align and level the teeth, then close the gaps by moving the teeth.
Occasionally, if there is a large difference between upper and lower jaw, for example, either the lower jaw appears to be too far forward or too far back compared to the upper jaw. That much of a difference between the upper and lower jaw can only be perfectly solved via surgery. However, in these situations it is often possible to achieve a pleasing compromise treatment, without the need for surgery, although surgery does give the best end result.
Many patients often ask ‘Won’t comprehensive take a long time?‘ The answer on this is that it depends on what we need to do… simple alignment and levelling of teeth can be completed in 6-9 months (this is the basis of short term orthodontics discussed in our next blog) …. but then to move a whole tooth forwards or backwards into gaps can take a further 6 – 9 months to an year depending on how far the teeth need to move. Therefore, conventional treatment can take 18-24 months, but can really only be accurately estimated once full examination and planning has been completed.
We will discuss the use of brackets and wires or clear aligners to achieve these results in future blogs.
The main thing to remember is that it is important to know what results could be achieved by comprehensive orthodontics – that is the starting point – then if the duration or complexity of that treatment is off putting we can decide what compromises we can make to give you your desired result in a time frame that suits you.