Every year, millions of teens and adults receive orthodontic treatment to properly align their teeth and bite. The two most popular types of orthodontic treatments are traditional metal or tooth-colored braces, as well as clear aligner trays. No matter what type of orthodontic treatment is used, treatment can be made more interesting by learning about the fun parts of orthodontics. Here are seven fun facts of orthodontics:
1. Orthodontics Originated in 1900
In 1900, Edward H. Angle was the first dentist who focused his practice specifically on orthodontics. He eventually became known as the first orthodontist and helped to found the American Association of Orthodontics. Back in that time, dental braces and other orthodontic appliances were made from gold because of its ability to be easily shaped.
2. Metal Braces Use NASA Metal
Traditional metal brace arch wires are made from nickel titanium. This metal was originally produced by NASA as a heat-activated metal that can hold a specific shape. Eventually these two characteristics made nickel titanium ideal for use as orthodontic arch wires.
3. Metal Braces Make Your Teeth Stronger
Prior to having metal braces applied, the tooth surface is thoroughly cleaned to ensure the bracket can securely adhere to the tooth. The cement that is then used to adhere the bracket to the tooth, actually releases fluoride into the tooth. Fluoride has been used in dentistry because it strengthens tooth enamel.
4. The Orthodontist Matters More Than The Appliance
Orthodontic appliances are simply tools that an orthodontist uses to obtain the desired results. However, successful treatment outcomes are mostly determined by the expertise of the orthodontist rather than the type of orthodontic appliance. This is why it is highly beneficial to see an orthodontist for orthodontic treatment instead of a general dentist. Although general dentists know a great deal about teeth, they lack the specialized training of an orthodontist.
5. Retainers Are Just as Important as Treatment
During active orthodontic treatment, you will either have metal braces fixed to your teeth or wear clear aligner trays for about 22 hours a day. Directly following active treatment, you will receive a retainer that is to be worn full time and then gradually decreased to nights only. About 25% of people who have had orthodontic treatment end up needing it a second time simply because they do not wear their retainer. While active treatment moves your teeth, retainers hold them in place.
6. There are Many Myths About Metal Braces
Despite what many people say, there are some things about braces that simply are not true. For example, braces do not set off metal detectors, will not get caught when kissing someone else with braces, do not interfere with radio signals, do not increase the chance of being hit by lightning, and you can still play instruments and sports even with braces.
7. Almost Anyone Can Have Orthodontic Treatment
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child’s first orthodontic visit is no later than age 7. Most children, however, do not receive orthodontic treatment until they are in their teens. Still, 25% of orthodontic patients are adults in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s. This means that after the age of 7, almost anyone can benefit from orthodontic treatment.
As you can see, there are many interesting things about orthodontic treatment that you may have not known at first. Hopefully these fun orthodontic facts ease some of your fears about orthodontic treatment and make it more enjoyable overall. Even if the treatment itself isn’t your favorite thing, the smile you have after will be more than worth it.
Dr Sepi is a board-certified orthodontist and a member of the American Association of Orthodontics, Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontics, World Federation of Orthodontics, and Washington State Dental Association. She has published over 15 scientific papers in some of the world’s most prestigious orthodontic journals. She is also an editorial board member of the Journal of World Federation of Orthodontics and is a peer reviewer at the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.