As someone who suffered through years of orthodontic torture, I’ve been dreading the day my own child will get her braces. While I certainly don’t regret wearing them and am grateful my parents were in a position to pay for them, the process was long and extremely painful. Happily, when the time comes to straighten my own girl’s crooked teeth, she may find the process, while still painful, less time-consuming.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the adjustments my orthodontist was making to my braces every few weeks were mostly guesswork. He would tighten up the wires that pulled my teeth together based on what he thought would happen. While his guesses were guided by education and experience, he inevitably guessed wrong sometimes. That meant several days of pain that didn’t really accomplished anything.
But today, new technology allows orthodontists to create 3-D models of a patient’s teeth and virtually plan the treatment before any real-world work is done. Using this type of imaging, the orthodontist can more accurately predict how the forces applied to teeth will move them. This removes the guesswork and significantly shortens the amount of time the braces are worn and therefore, the pain involved.
The drawback is, of course, the price. While traditional braces can run anywhere from $4,500 to $7,000, 3-D technology can add as much as $1,000 to the cost. Still, considering that fact that I wore braces over 30 years ago and can still vividly recall the pain, I am willing to shell out a little extra to help my own kid avoid unnecessary misery.
Image: Pink Sherbet Photography/Flickr
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