What a difference straight teeth can make! A great-looking smile can boost your self-confidence and have a positive impact on social and professional opportunities. Orthodontic treatment is the original smile makeover tool — and you will be happy to know that you're never too old to take advantage of it. But it isn't all about looks: Properly aligned teeth help you to bite, chew and even speak more effectively. They are also easier to clean, which helps keep your mouth free of tooth decay and gum disease.

The amazing thing about orthodontics is that it harnesses the body's natural ability to remodel its own tissue. With the application of light, constant force, orthodontic appliances gently reshape bone and move teeth into better positions. Some examples of these appliances are traditional metal braces, inconspicuous clear or tooth-colored braces, and clear aligners, a relatively new option for adults and teens.

Bite Problems and How to Fix Them

Orthodontic Problems.

Orthodontic treatment can resolve a number of bite problems, which often become evident by around age 7. These include underbite, crossbite or excessive overbite, where upper and lower teeth don't close in the proper position; open bite, where a space remains between top and bottom teeth when the jaws are closed; and crowding or excessive spacing, where teeth are spaced too close together or too far apart.

To correct bite problems, teeth need to be moved — but doing that isn't as hard as you might think! Teeth aren't fixed rigidly in their supporting bone; instead, they're held in place by a hammock-like structure called the periodontal ligament, which is very responsive to forces placed on the teeth. Orthodontic appliances move teeth by careful application of light, constant pressure. This force can be applied via metal wires that run through small brackets attached to the teeth (braces), or via the semi-rigid plastic of clear aligners.

Orthodontics is for Children — and Adults

Having orthodontic treatment in childhood is ideal in order to take advantage of a youngster's natural growth processes to help move the teeth into proper alignment. Like the rest of the body, the teeth and jaws are now changing rapidly. So at this time it's possible (for example) to create more room for teeth in a crowded mouth by using a “palatal expander” to rapidly widen the upper jaw. This phase of growth modification can shorten overall treatment time and ensure the best result if additional orthodontic appliances are needed.

Adult Orthodontics

But remember, healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so you've never “missed the boat” for orthodontic treatment. In fact, about one in five of today's orthodontic patients is an adult. Several new technological developments — including tooth-colored ceramic braces, clear aligners and invisible lingual braces — have made orthodontic appliances less evident, and enhanced the treatment experience for grown-ups. Before treatment, adults are carefully examined for signs of periodontal (gum) disease, which will be brought under control before treatment begins.

Types of Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontic Appliance Options.

When you imagine someone wearing braces, you probably picture small metal brackets bonded to the front of the teeth, with a thin wire running through them. This time-tested style remains very popular — but it's no longer the only option. Clear braces use brackets made of ceramic or plastic which, except for the slim archwire, are hardly visible. Lingual braces are just like traditional metal braces — except they're bonded to the back of your teeth (the tongue side) so that no one can see them.

Removable clear aligners are an alternative to fixed orthodontic appliances. They consist of a series of clear plastic “trays” that fit over your teeth exactly; each one moves your teeth a little bit, until they are in the proper position. Whether fixed or removable, each type of appliance may have advantages or disadvantages in particular situations. After a complete examination, the best treatment options for you will be discussed.

Retention & Post Orthodontic Care

Once your orthodontic treatment is completed, it's extremely important to wear a retainer as directed. That's because teeth naturally tend to drift back to their original locations — which is the last thing you want after you've gone to the trouble of straightening them! Wearing a retainer holds your teeth in their new position long enough for new bone and ligament to re-form around them, and helps keep your gorgeous new smile looking good for a lifetime.

Related Articles

Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Magic of Orthodontics Proper alignment of the teeth is basic to “Smile Design.” Their position dictates how they work together and affects the way you look and smile. Only orthodontic treatment can move teeth into the right position. Simply put, when things look right, they probably are right. Learn the basics of smile analysis and design and whether the magic of orthodontics will work for you... Read Article

Adult Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

Orthodontics for the Older Adult Healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so there's no such thing as “too old” for braces. In fact, nowadays about one out of every five orthodontic patients is an adult. Yet this figure represents only a small portion of adults who could actually benefit from orthodontic treatment... Read Article

Clear Aligners for Teens - Dear Doctor Magazine

Clear Aligners for Teenagers Teens who regard traditional braces as restrictive, confining, and obstructive to their lifestyles now have another choice for orthodontic treatment: clear aligners. This advanced dental technology, originally geared toward adults, has recently evolved to treat a greater variety of bite problems in younger people. These improved orthodontic appliances can help teens function normally during a difficult phase of life... Read Article

  • Invisalign for Teens

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  • Orthodontic FAQs

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  • Invisalign for Adults

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  • Post-Orthodontic Care

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  • Types of Braces

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  • Orthodontic Emergencies

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  • Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADS)

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  • Thumb & Finger Appliances

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  • Adolescent Orthodontic Care

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Testimonials

What Our Clients Say About Us

  • "This office at Washington Street in Wellesley is incredibly well run. Everybody is friendly and very professional.

    Lyn Galante cleans my teeth very thoroughly and gently and gives me good dental health advice.

    Suzanne Gendell is a fabulous dentist, a thoughtful and very pleasant person, and I trust her implicitly.

    When people say "I hate to go to the dentist" I always respond "I don't!""
    Ilse S
  • "Dr. Harrison is the BEST dentist I have ever had. He is an expert in the art of dentistry, He explains procedures in detail and answers all questions and concerns completely. He is very professional and easy to talk to. I always feel confident that the work he performed is of the highest quality. I would highly recommend him."
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  • "I was treated very professionally and courteously by Dr. Burnett and Bruno. They were very positive and gave me great hope for solutions to my dental dilemma. I look forward to future dental visits. Thank you."
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  • "This group is the most professional and caring group you could ever ask for. Dr.Harrison and his team are nothing but the best!"
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  • "I really appreciated the warmth and kindness of the people who worked at MetroWest Dental. The doctor and assistant were very professional yet friendly, too. I loved it!"
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  • "Metro west Dental spends more time with their patients than any other dentist office I’ve been to. Great staff."
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  • "Great dentist and extremely friendly staff. Very professional and have only positive experiences visiting."
    Zachary Zieper
  • "Super friendly and highly recommended by my ace dentist who is retiring."
    Beryl Bergen
  • "Great as always. Such pros, such warmth and care.
    My mouth could not be happier."
    Arno Rafael Minkkinen
  • "Dr. Inna gave me Botox and it is terrific. The procedure was painless. She was very gentle and kind.
    During the next few weeks, so many people in my life noticed how much younger I look. My forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet are gone.
    I highly recommend Dr. Inna for all dental and cosmetic procedures."
    Carole Sage
  • "I was nervous to go to my dental appointment during a pandemic, but they made a lot of changes in their office and procedures to address the COVID situation. This made me feel safer and more comfortable, and of course, the continued excellence & quality of the care provided by the staff at this office remains the same as always."
    D T
  • "Lynn is great. Fast and comfortable. And fun to talk to. Very personable."
    John Fritts
  • "Fantastic cleaning. Good attention to Covid safety."
    Jim Ogletree
  • "Susie the hygenist did a fabulous job cleaning my teeth! Everyone at the office is warm and friendly. I highly recommend this dental office!"
    Donna Santamaria
  • "I have been a patient of Dr. Burnett for the past two years at Metro West Dental. The office is very clean and welcoming and the staff are always polite and knowledgeable.
    *Parking is also a plus*
    I started seeing Dr.Burnett for Botox that started out cosmetically. Dr.Burnett made the experience very pleasant from my first time and has stayed that way till now! Dr.Burnett had suggested that I try the Botox for my clenching and it has HELPED tremendously. I’m very thankful for her ability to make me feel beautiful and confident in her care."
    Ester Kuritnik
  • "Dr. Burnett is an incredible dentist. I worked with her for both my Invisalign and Zoom whitening treatment, and I couldn't be happier with my result. She is extremely thorough and pays attention to every detail. My teeth are perfect because of her work. I highly recommend her."
    Caraline Zeizel
  • "My visit with Dr. Harrison was exceptional. The office was so organized and extremely clean and organized. I felt safe and well taken care of during my visit. Tina was attentive, competent and so friendly. Dr. Harrison has always maintained a A+++ office. Highest quality of dental care ! Thank you!"
    Carole Anne Parisi
  • "Beyond grateful and impressed. After a different dentist made some mistakes on a chipped filling and tore up the side of my mouth doing so, I was beside myself. Metro West got me in so quickly despite being booked. Dr. Burnett was beyond wonderful. She’s so kind and tried so hard to make everything painless. Tina was also wonderful to chat with and so on top of everything. The office was totally secure and COVID-19 safe with many precautions. I’m getting ready to move out of the area, but would recommend this office and Dr. Burnett to anyone. Top notch."
    Leah Salloway