Are there alternatives to having teeth removed for braces?

beach braces

If you just found out that you, your child or someone that is close to you is going to need braces, also called orthodontic cases, it’s okay. There is absolutely nothing to be worried about. It is incredibly common, especially in childhood, to need braces. Most people who have had them would agree on one thing for sure: the earlier your dentist tells you to see an orthodontist about getting them, the better. The sooner you get them, the sooner they can be taken off and, while they are common in childhood, they’re not nearly as common for adults, so most people prefer to get them during childhood.

What Are They?

Braces are also known as orthodontic cases, or just cases. They can be either cosmetic or structural. Orthodontic cases help to align, straighten and position teeth, while also improving dental health. These cases can be used to correct various orthodontic issues; such as a mild, moderate or even a severe under bite, overbite, an open bite, deep bite or crooked teeth. They are often used with other orthodontic appliances in order to widen the jaw or palate and to assist with shaping the jaw and teeth.

Are there different types of orthodontic cases?

Yes, there are actually several different types for you to choose from. The most common is the traditional wired ones. They are made of stainless steel and sometimes titanium. They typically have metal brackets with elastic ties (small, sometimes colorful, rubber bands). Another type of orthodontic cases that are very similar to the traditional wired ones are called self-ligating wired orthodontic cases. These are also stainless steel or a combination of stainless steel and titanium; however, they do not require any form of elastic tie to hold the wire to the brackets. Instead, wires go through the brackets. Self-ligating orthodontic cases typically require less time and adjustments, as well as being less painful.

There are also options that are less noticeable than the shiny metal wires or colorful rubber bands. Esthetic orthodontic cases are specifically designed to blend in more naturally with the color of your teeth, or to be nearly invisible. The brackets for clear cases are usually made of plastic or ceramic materials, rather than metal; although, they work in a similar way.

Clear elastic ties (rubber bands) and white metal ties can be used with these so as to allow them to remain “invisible.” Alternately, clear orthodontic cases can also be self-ligating. Some people do prefer these because they are less noticeable; however, they can create more friction and are more brittle than the traditional alternative. This can make them more difficult and time consuming to remove at the end of treatment. Another cosmetic option are lingual cases. They are custom made and are bonded to the back of the teeth, so that they cannot be seen by anyone who doesn’t look inside of your mouth.


Yet another popular cosmetic option are the removable, clear aligners. These aligners gradually move teeth into the spaces and angles where they belong. They typically are not used for more complicated orthodontic scenarios. These cases tilt or rotate the teeth without any wires or tightening. If you choose one of these, you have to remove them in order to eat and you must brush and floss your teeth after every meal.

The final cosmetic option offered at Manhattan Beach Orthodontics is WildSmiles. The WildSmiles brackets come in different shapes, including stars, hearts, soccer balls, footballs, flowers and Super Diamonds. Your child can choose the shape and the color of the brackets they get. These brackets are just as safe and effective as traditional brackets.

Do you need to have any teeth removed in order to get orthodontic cases?

Teeth do not always need to be removed in order to get cases. It depends on the patients jaw, teeth, severity of crowding and their specific orthodontic needs. It is reasonable and understandable to get a second opinion from another orthodontist when tooth extraction is recommended. It is always best to keep teeth and just expand and develop dental arches to make room for the teeth, whenever it is possible.

Are there alternatives to having teeth removed? What are they?

Again, this depends on the specific scenario. In cases of severe crowding, you may have to have teeth removed, depending on the size and shape of the underlying bone. Sometimes, if the underlying bone is sufficient, mild to moderate crowding can be fixed with orthodontic cases alone by increasing the size of the arch. If the jaw is not big enough, expanders may be a possibility. In some cases, Dentofacial Orthopedics can be used prior to getting orthodontic cases. Dentofacial Orthopedics are basically fancy retainers that are used to expand bone structure. If a patient has protrusive teeth or a “full profile”, attempting expansion could simply make the situation worse. In these cases, tooth extraction is necessary.

If the patient has a moderate or severe overbite, there may be two options. The first is to move the jaw forward. Although, tooth removal is typically preferable to moving the lower jaw, as this requires surgery. The second option is to move the top teeth back. In mild or moderate cases, this can be done with rubber bands or springs. In a more severe case, removing two upper bicuspids may be necessary in order to create enough space.
At Manhattan Beach, we make sure to inform you of all of your options, as well as our opinion of which would be best for you. We will never remove teeth unless there is no other option and it is necessary.

Call Manhattan Beach Braces today at 310-379-0006, or schedule an appointment for children, teenagers or adults.

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