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Your teeth are your smile’s calling card, and the brighter and more aligned they are, the more attractive your smile becomes. Unfortunately, not everyone’s teeth are perfect, and many different types of misalignment can not only ruin your smile, but they can interfere with the proper function of your mouth as a whole. The good thing is, there are ways to fix the problems.

The dentists at Grace Dentist Group in Western Addition, San Francisco, Woo Young Lee, DDS and Sean Kim, DDS, are experts at fixing alignment issues with your teeth and jaw. They offer a variety of options to help correct your smile for both aesthetic reasons and for good oral health.

What are some alignment issues?

The medical term for the various misalignments of your teeth and your bite is “malocclusion.” The most common of these include:

  • Overcrowding: When the size of your mouth is too small to house all your teeth, the teeth crowd together, become crooked, and overlap one another, and it’s hard to keep them clean. This is the most common reason adults seek orthodontic treatment.
  • Overbite: While your top front teeth naturally overlap your lower front teeth to some degree, with an overbite, the top teeth extend too far forward. This can lead to the teeth biting down on your gums and causing injury.
  • Anterior crossbite (underbite): When your upper teeth bite down inside your lower teeth, it’s referred to as a crossbite; when the crossbite affects the front teeth, it’s called an anterior crossbite, or more commonly, an underbite.
  • Spacing issues: When spaces occur between two or more teeth, you can have issues with biting, chewing, and even speaking. Spacing can occur when the teeth are small, when your tongue continually thrusts against the teeth, or when you have tooth loss.
  • Missing teeth: Also known as hypodontia, teeth may be missing because they did not develop properly, or they were lost through decay or other injuries. The space from the missing tooth can allow for neighboring teeth to drift inward, affecting the bite.

What do braces do?

Braces of any kind are designed to correct malocclusions of all different types. Traditional braces are made of metal wires and brackets, leading to the common term of “metal mouth.” The teeth are moved into position by tightening the wires, and you wear them 24 hours a day for anywhere between 18 months and three years.

Today’s traditional braces are more user-friendly, with smaller brackets — meaning less pain and less food trapped between the parts — and they can be made from ceramic, meaning they’re less visible.

What is Invisalign®?

Invisalign® is a newer solution for orthodontic problems. Instead of wires and brackets, the Invisalign system is composed of a series of clear plastic trays, also known as “aligners.” These fit over your teeth, and they look similar to teeth whitening trays. They are most effective for minor orthodontic problems, but they have the advantage of being almost invisible, meaning you can smile all you want without feeling embarrassed by their presence.

Adults typically wear the aligners for about 18 months, and they’re worn as a series, with each new tray you get slightly tighter than the last to move your teeth incrementally toward the end goal. This is a much more gentle process than traditional braces. The trays are custom-crafted by Invisalign technicians who use computer technology to map out the structure of your mouth and teeth from start to finish, guaranteeing a smooth transition along the way.

In addition, you can take the trays out whenever you want, though it’s recommended you wear them for about 22 hours a day. You do take them out when eating or drinking to avoid staining the plastic, and, of course, you take them out to clean them properly. Your dentist will give you all the particulars if he decides Invisalign is the treatment for you.

To find out more about the Invisalign process and to see if this option meets your aesthetic and oral health needs, call our office at (415) 921-8867 or contact us online.

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