Modern Orthodontic Trend: Less Pain = More Gain

Light, Continuous Orthodontic Force is Better for Moving Teeth Light, Continuous Orthodontic Force is Better for Moving Teeth

Would you agree that a Win-Win situation is a great thing:  2 kids going to a friend's house in the same neighborhood, a vacation deal the same week you took off work, a movie that comes out that appeals to both spouse's...orthodontic treatment that accomplishes more with less force and pain?  Yes, the last statement is a bit "geeky", but let's face it-I am a geek about orthodontics. 

Orthodontic treatment in the past used to carry a pretty strong reputation for pain.  It's amazing how even now, our new patients, both kids and adults alike, reference this aspect about orthodontics.  I have to admit 2 of the most common questions we get at Happy Valley Orthodontics are, "How long is it going to take?" and "Is it going to hurt?".  Now comes the Win-Win when it comes to orthodontic treatment.

Light forces on teeth, over the course of time, have been proven to move teeth more effectively.  What may surprise you is that heavy force levels on teeth actually can cause an unhealthy delay in tooth movement.  The advent of Titanium use in orthodontics has allowed this process to happen.  Let me explain how wonderful this is for our patients:  When someone has braces placed, the goal at the beginning of treatment is to work on purely straightening and derotating teeth.  We call this "leveling and aligning" which lasts roughly 6 months in duration.  We typically start with extremely flexible Nickel-Titanium wires that are almost as flexible as noodles.  The force levels at the beginning of treatment can be as low as 80 grams of force, which is less than 3 ounces!  The wire is "teased" into the braces in it's flexible state and then activates itself back to its starting form, taking the teeth with it!  What an amazing concept!  It has been found that this light level of force invokes a process between the tooth and bone that can create a balanced environment for movement of teeth.  Too heavy of force and imbalances can be created that can cause a slowing of movement.  The result...more movement with less pain!

As treatment proceeds, similar wires can be utilized to further express teeth and allow for more controlled movements as the teeth straighten, such as overbite correction and elastic wear.  Some orthodontic cases can even be treated to completion without a patient ever receiving a "heavier force" wire, such as stainless steal.  Beyond braces, Invisalign has even launched their Smart-Track material as its newest generation aligner material that acts in a similar way.  This new material is more flexible so when patients change trays, lighter force levels of this newly engineered material are exerted which equates to more predictable Invisalign movements.  

My purpose of writing this entry is to try and alleviate as much anxiety about orthodontics as possible when it comes to pain.  Orthodontics is an amazing specialty with so much technology to help the people who seek treatment.  There is constant research that is further opening doors for more people to experience  their dream of having straight teeth and a healthier bite...with less pain.