Having a chipped, cracked, or decaying tooth filed down and covered with a strong and natural-looking dental crown or veneer can take years off your appearance and help improve your ability to chew and speak. However, later affixing braces to these non-enamel surfaces can cause damage that may be difficult to repair. Should you seek orthodontia if you have crowns, veneers, or other artificial teeth? What are your gentler orthodontic options? Read on to learn more about how artificial teeth can safely and attractively be guided into place.
Should you have orthodontic treatment if you have dental crowns or veneers?
While orthodontia is often associated with improved appearance, there are also a number of health benefits to having crooked or misaligned teeth mechanically straightened. Teeth that don't quite line up when you bite down can cause uneven wear -- and much like a drawer that has gone off its tracks, uneven teeth can eventually strain your jaw or even lead to the development of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a painful clicking, popping, or locking of the joint that hinges your jaw.
However, the benefits of orthodontic treatment must also be balanced with the risk of damage to your altered teeth. In most cases, applying traditional metal braces and brackets to natural teeth shouldn't pose any risk of damage or discoloration. However, depending upon the type of material used to create your crowns or dental veneers, the bonding glue (or even the brackets themselves) could damage or permanently stain the surface of your teeth. Often, this damage can't easily be repaired, making replacement the most logical option.
What are your best orthodontic options for artificial teeth?
Advances in dental and medical technology have made significant strides toward solving the problem of how best to straighten teeth without harming existing crowns or veneers. One way is through the use of "invisible" or plastic braces.
Unlike metal braces, which are affixed to your teeth and periodically tightened to encourage your teeth to slowly migrate into their proper positions, invisible braces are made of a porous, easily-molded plastic that achieves the same result without altering the appearance of your smile during the straightening process. Because these braces come in tray form and can be removed to eat, drink, floss, and brush your teeth, they shouldn't pose any problem for crowns or veneers. In some cases, a single tray may be enough to straighten your teeth permanently; in others, you may require several re-fittings or adjustments of the invisible braces before you and your orthodontist are satisfied.
However, because invisible braces tend to be ideal for teeth that require only minor or moderate straightening, they may not always be up to the task of making major changes to the alignment of your teeth. If you need more orthodontic work than can be achieved by invisible braces, a permanent retainer may be another viable option.
A permanent retainer, like traditional braces, is made from metal -- but unlike braces, is affixed to the back of your teeth rather than the front. This eliminates the need for adhesive brackets on each individual tooth, minimizing the risk of damage to your crowns or veneers, while still providing a firm surface to guide your teeth into a healthier position.
Because this retainer remains in place permanently (or at least on a long-term basis), it will also prevent your teeth from shifting into their original positions once the braces are removed -- an occasional complication of traditional metal or invisible braces. Your orthodontist should be able to assist in evaluating the pros and cons of your various straightening options to help you make the healthiest choice for your own teeth. For more information, contact a professional at a clinic like Family Dentist.