What factors influence how people view our smile? There are many factors, one important part of having a beautiful smile is having teeth that are in proper alignment. Teeth that are flared in or out or rotated or overlapped will detract from an attractive smile. Another factor is whether the teeth collectively appear to have a slope to one side or the other rather than being straight across (parallel to a line drawn between the pupils). Sometimes the teeth can erupt in such a way that their midline (between the two front teeth) is not coincident with a line drawn vertically between the center of the nose and the center of the chin. There are other factors that influence how people view our smile, but, fortunately, all of the above problems can generally be modified and improved with orthodontics.
All of the above problems with the misalignment of teeth can be corrected with traditional orthodontics. The problem is that traditional orthodontics involves extensive hardware including thick brackets and heavy wires across the arch. This hardware makes proper oral hygiene and effective regular cleanings almost impossible. In adults, this can lead to a periodontal disaster – teeth that lose gum and bone and remain permanently loose.
As a periodontist, I treat mainly adults. Children and people under the age of thirty-five generally don’t get periodontal disease, i.e., bone loss around the teeth. Therefore, it is critical that adults, especially those in their 30’s and beyond, engage in effective home care and have regular, frequent professional cleanings.
One relatively new orthodontic technique for moving teeth is called Invisalign. Invisalign uses a series of clear “aligners” that are worn over the teeth to slowly move the teeth into better positions. Because the aligners are made of thin, clear plastic, they are virtually invisible while they are worn – hence the name Invisalign. With Invisalign, tooth alignment problems can be corrected and the aligners are removed for brief periods to permit proper brushing and flossing. Also, they can be removed at the time of regular professional cleanings. Thus, periodontal bone loss can be prevented while the teeth are moving. Once the teeth are in the proper position, special “retainers'' are worn only at night to maintain the new, improved tooth positions.
Through the use of Invisalign, improper tooth positions can be corrected. An improved smile and better lip posture are the end result. The use of Invisalign should always be considered as an important tool in creating a smile makeover.