What’s Bad About Braces
People from all cultures throughout history have sought to straighten their teeth through orthodontics. As long as there have been teeth, there have been problems with crooked or crowded teeth. Orthodontic appliances date back as far as ancient Egypt, and extensive writing on orthodontic methods and contraptions began appearing during the 1700s. As with most fields in modern medicine, orthodontia is a dynamically evolving discipline, and this is good news for the patients of today. The first “braces” seem to have been crude metal bands wrapped around individual teeth and attached to animal intestines which were tightened in an effort to close gaps. Until about 20 years ago, most orthodontic treatment centered around the same fundamental approach that the ancient Egyptians were taking, which is to basically push and pull all the teeth where you want them to go. The methods, tools and materials have evolved, but the basic premise is the same.
There is a reason why countless generations of people have suffered through metal braces on their teeth. The cosmetic and psychological benefits of straighter teeth and a confident smile are well documented, as are the health benefits to having a properly aligned bite devoid of spacing issues. Unfortunately orthodontic treatment, like many medical treatments, entails a litany of side effects and potential complications.
To start with, traditional orthodontic treatment frequently causes root resorption. Simply put, the forcible pushing and pulling of teeth causes cells in the body to rob minerals from the hard tissues that comprise the root of the tooth resulting in deterioration and shrinking of the root. This can make the tooth less stable in the mouth and eventually lead to tooth loss. Since the root stimulates development and maintenance of the jaw, root resorption can ultimately lead to bone deterioration.
Even if it doesn’t occur due to root resorption, traditional braces can still inhibit proper jaw bone development in young people. This is because braces have been shown to stunt the development of the maxilla, or upper jaw. Since the development of the lower jaw follows that of the maxilla, its development is often inhibited also as a result of this process. Most commonly this results in an overbite.
Because of the way traditional braces are attached, proper oral hygiene is much more difficult and time consuming to maintain. As a result, you are at far greater risk for periodontal disease and the various complications which accompany that condition. It’s also easy for plaque and bacteria to accumulate beneath and around the brackets of metal braces. This is how braces so frequently cause decalcification of the enamel, which appears as a white spot on the teeth and is considered the first step toward cavitation.
Problems with Materials
With old-fashioned orthodontics, there is risk of physical damage to the enamel occurring during the bonding or debonding process. This is significant, since the enamel can basically not be restored once damaged. In fact, it is even possible for teeth to be fractured by excessive torque while metal brackets are being removed.
We at The Center for Natural Dentistry frequently talk about the dangers of using metal in dental fillings and implants. Many people overlook the fact that it is very common for orthodontic hardware to contain large amounts of nickel. Metal allergies in general are fairly common, and 5% to 25% of the population is estimated to have some degree of nickel sensitivity. If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to jewelry that was comprised of nickel, imagine that happening inside your mouth and on your face!
Even if you’re not allergic to the substance, there is a reason so many weapons throughout history have been made of metal. Those sharp, shiny brackets and wires have loads of potential when it comes to cutting and stabbing your tongue, cheek and gums. Most emergency room doctors will probably tell you that they’ve pulled metal brackets out of more than one kid’s lip.
Of course, even if you have relatively few complications with your braces experience, there’s always a reasonable possibility that your teeth will drift back toward their original positions. After treatment with traditional braces, it’s fairly common for patients to need additional treatment or even another round of braces.
The New Solution
Thankfully, the last few decades have seen significant advances in the field of myofunctional therapy. Rather than forcing individual teeth into their desired positions, myofunctional therapy achieves ideal positioning of the teeth by focusing on the placement of the tongue and the spacing of the palate.
The Center for Natural Dentistry proudly offers Myobrace to our orthodontic patients. Myobrace is a system of removable, non-metal appliances that treats the root causes of orthodontic problems on a myofunctional level. Feel free to call our office for more information.