Your smile sends a message to the world about who you are. If you’re not altogether comfortable with your appearance, you’re not sharing the real you – whether you’re a teen or adult. At Nasser Children & Adult Orthodontics in Shreveport and Bossier City, LA, we can improve your smile and boost your confidence with Damon braces.
Are Damon Braces Really Better?
Although the word “better” can mean different things to different people, these braces check a lot of boxes that traditional braces do not. For starters, they don’t rely on elastic bands to move teeth and are therefore much less visible. They’re also self-ligating, meaning they are gentler on sensitive tissues and teeth. This allows for a considerably more comfortable treatment that eliminates much of the anxiety associated with braces.
If you’re not familiar with this term, don’t worry – most people are not. Self-ligating braces use small metal doors to hold in place the archwires of braces. A sliding mechanism then gradually but effectively moves the teeth into their desired positions. Unlike traditional braces, this system does not use little rubber bands, is proven to provide a faster treatment, and allows for easier brushing and flossing (more on these topics in just a moment).
The concept of self-ligating braces is not new and can be traced all the way back to the 1930s when Dr. Jacob Stolzenberg introduced the Russell Attachment. This contained a flat head screw neatly surrounded by a roundabout; the screw could be loosened or tightened with a tiny watch repair screwdriver, thus achieving the desired tooth movement.
Why the Movement
A movement toward self-ligating brackets has steadily been growing in size since 1970. The goal has been and remains to capitalize on the benefits they offer, including:
- Less friction between bracket and archwire
- Reduced chair time for providers and patients
- Precise control of tooth movement
- Fewer anchorage demands
- Greater likelihood of space closure
- Rapid alignment
- Substantially fewer soft-tissue lacerations
- Improved oral hygiene
The Damon System
Dwight Damon introduced these brackets in 1996. They had a slide that moved vertically and a relatively conventional bracket. The slide also opened in a downward direction to offer a wider view of the slot. Although this system proved to be a major step forward in improving braces, it fell short in two ways: the slides occasionally opened without cause, and they were prone to breakage.
After several more engineering attempts, these braces hit the market to pick up where regular braces fall short. Damon braces are fit exactly like their traditional counterparts and can be used to treat crooked teeth, overcrowding, and mild to severe cases of malocclusion. You can therefore expect:
- A more even smile
- Improved facial balance
- A more youthful profile
- Smoother cheek contours
- Fewer dark triangles at your mouth corners
How These Braces Work
Just like traditional braces, your treatment will begin with a consultation. We’ll then create a mold of your teeth and plot out your treatment. Because the Damon system is self-ligating, it uses a slide mechanism that attaches wires to the brackets (as explained above). This may not seem significant, but it ultimately means the brackets move independently – without external force – to realign teeth.
How does this help you, the patient? You won’t need a member of our staff to periodically tighten your braces. This has long been noted as one of the most painful experiences of braces; eliminating it provides a more enjoyable treatment while still straightening your teeth. As an added bonus, you have no elastic bands that draw attention to your mouth and occasionally snap while in place, thereby reducing additional irritation.
How All Braces Work
To really understand the ways in which Damon and conventional braces differ, you must first know the principles behind all orthodontic appliances. In a nutshell, braces apply pressure to your teeth to move them where they “should” be. This pressure is substantial enough to stretch and compress the ligament that connects your teeth and gums.
Once that ligament is made more flexible, teeth become looser and can nudge slightly in the desired direction. Meanwhile, the movement allows new bone to grow and support teeth in their new positions. You can think of this bone as creating a foundational framework around each tooth.
You’ve likely heard these referred to as train-tracks because of their appearance on the teeth. In any event, traditional braces rely on brackets attached to your teeth with a special adhesive. An arch-wire applies the pressure that moves teeth, and a rubber band – often colored – ensures the wire stays attached to the brackets.
This is a fairly simple system in principle, but it requires diligence. A patient must, for instance, commit to regular office visits so we can assess teeth movement. We must also routinely tighten and adjust the arch-wire’s pressure. Traditional braces have worked beautifully for many years, providing patients with smiles they never dreamed they could have. But they are known to cause friction between the brace and wire in a way that can be painful for patients.
How They’re Different From Invisalign
Many ask about the difference between Damon braces and Invisalign. More divides than brings these two systems together. Invisalign is a clear, plastic aligner that provides a nearly invisible way to straighten teeth. This system is also removable; patients take them out to eat and drink, meaning they require a degree of will power to wear consistently, as proper treatment requires. Braces, on the other hand, are affixed to the teeth and work 24 hours a day.
Breaking Down the Benefits
Earlier, we mentioned a laundry list of benefits Damon braces can provide. We ran through this rather quickly, however, so here, we’re going to discuss them in greater detail. Let’s start with faster results; researchers at the Bristol Dental Hospital and School in the UK determined these braces require less time and fewer office visits than conventional braces.
Treatment plans vary by patient, but you can expect to wear these braces between 18 and 24 months. A traditional system can take anywhere from 18 months to three years to complete, depending on your situation. The difference is in the technology; Damon uses light-force, shape-memory wires to move teeth in a more efficient manner. This also equates to fewer appointments because you won’t need as many adjustments.
Greater Patient Comfort
The Damon system enhances your facial appearance and realigns teeth without using rapid palatal expanders or extracting teeth. This is made possible by the slide mechanism. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll also experience less friction to maintain the integrity of your teeth and enamel. And, finally, less pressure is applied to the system because it is self-ligating. This means less pain or, at the very least, less discomfort.
Less Visible to Others
Although the Damon system looks similar to traditional metal braces at first glance, they’re more discreet because they don’t have the small hooks for elastic bands or the bands themselves. This is ideal for adults and teens who want to improve their smiles without drawing attention to their braces.
You can also choose Damon Clear braces, made from ceramic, for even more discretion. The difference between these and other clear systems is pretty significant: the former has no visible plastic ties or metal parts so they are even less visible. Alternatively, for those who like to add a little pizazz to their appearance, Damon braces are available in color. Teens especially love these to showcase their personalities and remind others that braces can be fun.
Improved Oral Health
Conventional braces do pose some difficulty in keeping teeth clean. It’s another element that requires diligence; patients must brush their teeth after each snack and meal, meaning a toothbrush must always be handy. Equally important is taking the time to brush around brackets, ensuring each nook and cranny is clean. Without these elemental steps, a patient can develop cavities that demand additional treatment.
The Damon system likewise requires you put some time and effort into your oral hygiene. However, they lack rubber bands where food particles commonly get suck, meaning cleaning is not as difficult. And because they have fewer pieces than regular braces, plaque has fewer places to grow. In short, brushing and flossing are easier.
After Your Braces Are On
Even with Damon braces, you’ll need to watch what you eat once they’re on. This means avoiding:
- Taffy and other hard, sticky, or chewy foods
These foods are problematic in a few different ways. They can lead to cavities and also cause wires to come loose. Such events will extend your treatment time and force you to make unnecessary trips to our office. Additionally, if you opt for clear brackets, you’ll need to pay attention to the beverages you drink. Soda, red wine, and coffee can stain your braces. If you choose to enjoy these, do so in moderation and brush and use mouthwash immediately after.
How to Properly Brush
We discussed earlier how all braces require that you brush better and more often than normal. To further help you, we recommend you start this process with mouthwash to help loosen food particles wedged in and around the braces. You should then use a proxy or interdental brush that can reach between each set of brackets. These brushes are useful for eliminating small particles that may get stuck to the wires or brackets.
For your teeth, a soft-bristled brush held at a 45-degree angle should be used in a circular motion on every tooth surface. You should additionally brush three times per day or after every meal and rinse thoroughly after you brush.
If braces require that you brush more often, flossing can still be done just once a day. You can do this more if you feel it’s necessary, as flossing targets debris that brushing may not be able to reach, but it’s not a requirement. These steps will help you floss to greatest effect:
- Use waxed floss that won’t get caught in brackets and shred
- Thread the floss between each bracket and under each wire, then proceed as normal
- Choose a tool like a floss threader to help guide the floss appropriately
- Use a Waterpik before flossing to help stimulate gum tissues and remove food
Once brushing and flossing are complete, give your mouth a final rinse with concentrated mouthwash to kill germs and bacteria. You should also use mouthwash after eating or drinking anything with dark pigments, including cola and coffee.
We recommend that anyone who plays sports wear a mouthguard to protect their braces and teeth. These can safeguard the wires that comprise your braces so they don’t become loose and keep your brackets strong so your treatment isn’t delayed by broken pieces.
Once your braces are off, you may need to wear a retainer at night to keep your teeth from returning to their former positions. Your bone and soft tissues will need time to adapt to the changes your mouth has undergone. Retainers help stabilize teeth and ensure shifting or relapse is kept to a minimum. They can also help you pronounce words correctly if new teeth alignments affect your speech, in which case your retainer would also need to be worn during the day.
Are These Braces Right For You?
If you think Damon braces might be right for you, and you’re an adult or teen hoping for an alternative to traditional metal braces, the first step is to schedule a consultation with our office. We’ll consider your profile, the shape of your face, and the oral concerns that need to be addressed. The goal of braces is a beautiful, more confident smile. And regardless of age, properly aligned teeth can improve your well-being, appearance, and quality of life.
The Damon system is self-ligating, meaning your teeth will move without traditional means of tightening. This leads to less pain and pressure on your tissues, faster treatment times, and improved oral health. They’re also less visible than conventional braces and require fewer office visits. Take the first step – schedule your consultation today with Nasser Children & Adult Orthodontics in Shreveport and Bossier City, LA.