Cosmetic orthodontics is when we straighten your teeth for cosmetic reasons. You may be unhappy with the appearance of crowded teeth, gapped teeth, crooked teeth, or rotated teeth. But you don’t have functional problems with your teeth.
Because there are fewer strict requirements for cosmetic orthodontics, we can often take a smart approach to your orthodontic treatment that yields great results in less time. Six Month Smiles is a great approach to cosmetic orthodontics — it straightens visible teeth in the front of your mouth in about six months, and it’s available for most cosmetic problems. The Inman Aligner is a highly visible but completely removable orthodontics system, using springs and metal aligning plates to get your teeth straight in 10 weeks or less.
We can also take advantage of Invisalign, which uses clear plastic aligners to move your teeth. These removable aligners are also almost completely invisible, which means that nobody will know you have them, unless you tell them.
For purely cosmetic orthodontic work, we can also use porcelain veneers to reshape your teeth, rather than moving them. This can be completed in under a month, and can correct discolored teeth, small teeth, and other cosmetic problems at the same time.
But not all orthodontic problems are just cosmetic. Some of them have a serious impact on the function of your mouth, jaw, and airway. Teeth that don’t fit together properly can make it hard for you to chew properly. They can even lead to jaw joint damage, including temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD). Since your jaw is also the major support for the soft tissue of your airway, tooth alignment and bite problems can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea. In some cases, orthodontic treatment is the best way to put your jaw in the proper position and configuration to improve breathing at night.
Functional orthodontics approaches are generally more involved than cosmetic approaches. This is because we often have to involve the heavy molars, which have stronger roots and are larger. This makes them harder to move, which can mean not only more time, but also more discomfort, although discomfort remains mild to moderate. We may even have to reshape the jaw to improve breathing, which can be take a long time and involves special techniques.
Because functional orthodontic problems are often associated with excessive tooth wear or damage, we may also recommend reconstructive dentistry combined with your orthodontic treatment. When treatment is complete, you will not only have a fully functional smile, but a beautiful one as well.