Mark, a 51-year-old male, visited our St. Louis orthodontist office in September of 2020 for an initial consultation. He wished to improve the appearance of his teeth in addition to his self-confidence. During his first appointment, Dr. Frost studied Mark’s smile, taking note of misalignment and any issues with his bite. Photos were taken documenting his teeth before orthodontic treatment, and it was determined that his primary issue was overcrowding.
What is Crowding Teeth?
Crowded teeth, also referred to as a form of malocclusion (misalignment), occurs when there isn’t enough space in the mouth for permanent teeth to grow straight. Therefore, the teeth are crooked and overlap. Patients with crowded teeth can either have mild, moderate, or severe misalignment.
- Mild crowding occurs when one tooth is slightly rotated in the upper or lower jaw.
- Moderate crowding is characterized by two or three teeth that overlap in the upper and lower jaw.
- Severe crowding is seen in patients where most of their teeth are crooked and overlapping in the upper and lower jaw.
What Causes Crowded Teeth?
Overcrowding can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetics, jaw size, and number of permanent teeth. Potential causes include:
- When teeth are larger than the jaw bone as a result of genetics, they tend to misalign, overlap, and twist.
- Those with genetically smaller jaws typically don’t have enough room to properly fit each permanent tooth as they develop.
- Patients that lose primary (baby) teeth early have empty spaces that aren’t immediately filled by permanent teeth, and therefore are subject to movement.
- On the other hand, some individuals retain their primary teeth longer than normal, thus suppressing the permanent structures beneath and affecting their development.
How to Fix Crowded Teeth
The traditional method of fixing crowded teeth is through braces. They consist of metal brackets that are glued to the teeth and connected by wire. The treatment requires regular orthodontic visits to tighten the hardware and therefore gradually move the teeth into their desired position. Length of treatment depends on each specific case.
An alternative to traditional braces, clear plastic aligners such as Invisalign are a more aesthetically pleasing and discreet way to straighten teeth. Although they are not 100% invisible, aligners are growing in popularity due to being less noticeable compared to braces. Mark underwent a 15-month Invisalign treatment, which transformed his overcrowded teeth into a straight, confident smile.
In addition to overcrowding, Invisalign can also treat spacing issues. However, more complex problems, such as those with the bite, will likely require more extensive orthodontic intervention. When you visit your orthodontist, they will be able to recommend the best treatment for your specific situation.
The Invisalign Process
The first step in Mark’s Invisalign treatment process was paying us a visit. Using the newly developed iTero Element Plus Mobile Scanner, Dr. Frost was able to create 3D impressions of Mark’s mouth without the traditional putty. Additionally, the latest technology will save the impressions forever, which allows patients like Mark to receive new treatments and trays without another consultation.
The impression was then used to create and implement a treatment regimen that included a series of customized plastic aligners that gradually moved Mark’s teeth over the 15-month time period. Gentle pressure was applied by the Invisalign with the goal of moving his teeth just enough to where the next aligner in the process would fit comfortably.
Mark was instructed to wear his Invisalign for at least 22 hours each day, only removing them when eating, drinking, or cleaning his teeth. Compared to braces, Mark could easily brush and floss his teeth without attempting to work around brackets and wires. Additionally, his ability to thoroughly clean his teeth allowed him to reduce his risk of gum disease. He was quite pleased with his treatment and results!
Contact our St. Louis Orthodontist Today
As you can see in our before and after photos, Mark’s smile greatly improved during his 15-month Invisalign treatment. His issue with dental crowding was solved through an attractive, effective, and minimally invasive process. Our team at Frost Orthodontics has helped thousands of patients like Mark across the St. Louis area improve their smiles, and we’ll do the same for you, too. Schedule your Invisalign consultation today, and experience the latest in scanning technology! We look forward to meeting you.