That Hollywood Smile: We’re Ready for Our Close-Up, Mr. DeMille
Dr. Svetlana Demkina of American Clinic Dental Art sinks her teeth into orthodontia.
There was a time — and many of us remember it — when unattractive, uncomfortable orthodontic devices were an unavoidable fixture of the pre-adolescent experience. Those uncomfortable metal wires crisscrossing your teeth were a de rigueur part of growing up, guaranteeing that the “awkward” stage would be all it was cracked up to be.
Today, however, all that has changed.
No, it’s not that younger generations have been genetically engineered to have naturally straight teeth.
Rather, thanks to the sensitive and sensible innovations of orthodontists, teeth-straightening can now be done faster and more unobtrusively than ever before.
Europe, rather than the United States, has taken the lead in the development of many of these invisible orthodontic systems, and, perhaps as a result, interest in these treatments has exploded in Europe over the last few years.
Orthodontist Svetlana Demkina specializes in these devices and attests to their popularity among adults and children alike. She attributes the rise in interest to several factors. First, she says, there is a growing awareness, in Russia especially, of the value of a great smile. People feel that better teeth can help everything from their career to their self-esteem — in short, their entire quality of life. A Hollywood smile is both a sign of — and, increasingly, a prerequisite for — success of all kinds.
Another reason behind the proorthodontia trend is the possibility, through computer modeling, for the patient to see what the end result will look like before he or she even begins the treatment process.
A third reason for the increased appeal of the latest in “smile correction” is that the duration of the correction process has been shortened as never before — as few as six months, and only up to 2 or 2½ years for even very complicated cases.
The current generation of orthodontic systems has made it possible to reduce the duration of correction process because the apparatus is custommade to fit the individual patient, thus allowing the treatment time to be used more effectively.
Gone are the days when standard, one-size-fits-all metal brackets are glued to a teenager’s teeth only to be chiseled off years later, after dozens of unpleasant (and expensive) visits to the orthodontist’s office for painful tightening of the apparatus.
The course of the treatment is modeled ahead of time in a lab and divided into stages. At each visit, as the patient’s teeth move closer to their desired position, a new apparatus is made. In this way, everything is precisely planned according to the individual needs of the patient, and each stage is designed individually for maximum effect.
And the best part is that the device you wear is completely invisible, either in the form of a removable bite plate (see below) or plastic brackets placed on the back of the teeth. People notice that your smile is changing, but they have no idea how.
When beginning the treatment, there can be an adjustment period of up to a couple of weeks when there can be some discomfort. This, of course, varies from patient to patient. In addition, there are also restrictions on eating certain foods during the course of the treatment.
Dr. Demkina says the most popular systems at her practice are InvisAlign and Incognito, which are available for children as young as 14. She also stresses that tooth health is the first and foremost consideration when deciding which system is best suited to a particular patient — or if cosmetic dentistry is the best option.