We’ve had patients ask about Single Arch Braces treatment and thought it would be helpful to explain this type of treatment in more detail. “Single arch” treatment means that braces are only used on either the upper or lower teeth. Arches are the u-shaped arrangements that make up your dentition (the arrangement of teeth). In other words, your upper teeth are an arch and your bottom teeth are an arch.
This is a common question. For example, if your teeth are crooked on top but perfectly straight on the bottom, why would you need braces on both? The answer isn’t as simple as you would think and varies from patient to patient. The reason for this is because orthodontic treatment is more complex than just straightening teeth.
When teeth are overcrowded or crooked and braces are applied to straighten them, the teeth will gradually shift into correct position but also move forward to allow for more space. In other cases where teeth have gaps between them and braces are applied to move them together, the teeth have a tendency to move backwards as they align together. Because of this, bite problems (malocclusions) may be created.
A malocclusion as defined by Wikipedia is a misalignment or incorrect relationship between the teeth of the two dental arches (upper and lower teeth) when they approach each other as the jaws close.
Common types of malocclusions include:
- Over jet, also known as buck teeth – The top front teeth are pushed forward and outward. This can be caused by a small lower jaw.
- Overcrowding – There are either too many teeth in relation to the size of the jaw, or the teeth are too large and crowd each other out.
- Overbite – The top front teeth fit over the front lower teeth and touch the gums.
- Underbite – The front upper teeth sit inside of the front lower teeth.
- Crossbite – Similar to an underbite, however, the upper teeth sit inside of the lower teeth on the sides of the mouth.
- Open bite – the teeth don’t meet when the jaw/mouth is closed.
- Misplaced midline – The center of the upper front teeth don’t line up with the center of the lower front teeth.
Depending on severity and type of misalignment, malocclusions are rated as Class I, Class II, or Class III.
If you already have an overbite and you have crooked teeth, if we were only treating this condition with single arch braces, then this could actually make the overbite worse since crooked teeth move forward as they straighten. On the other hand, if your bite is fine to begin with but you have crooked upper teeth, putting braces on the top teeth only could possibly create an overbite.
Think of your upper and lower teeth like cogs and a wheel. The “teeth” need to be straightened in order to fit correctly into the wheel, but if the cog and wheel don’t fit properly together because they are misaligned, then all sorts of problems can occur.
Click here for more details on different types of malocclusions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malocclusion.
Complications of Malocclusion
Malocclusions in and of themselves can cause long-term health problems. They can also get worse with time. Additionally, severe malocclusions can cause the jaw to thrust forward or sit too far back and change the outward appearance of a person. Misalignments can also affect facial symmetry.
Other issues that develop include:
- Teeth grinding.
- Abnormal wear on teeth causing erosion of the tooth surface or broken teeth.
- Difficulty chewing.
- Speech impediments.
- Greater risk of tooth decay/cavities.
- Jaw and neck pain.
- Tooth and jaw infections.
- TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. To read more about this condition, click HERE: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/t/temporomandibular-joint-disorder.html
Are Single Arch Braces Ever an Option?
There are times when placing braces on only one arch is an option although it’s not that common. They may be used in younger children when beginning Phase 1 of their orthodontic treatment plan before proceeding on to Phase 2.
Another example might be when a patient has a slight overbite and some spacing problems in the upper teeth. Because teeth with gaps or spaces tend to move backwards with braces, a single arch treatment might also correct the slight malocclusion as well.
Every single person has their own individual needs. Dr. Taylor is a Board-Certified Orthodontist and has years of experience treating all types of conditions. We offer a free consultation to anyone interested in braces for themselves or for their child. This includes an oral exam and x-rays along with a question and answer session with Dr. Taylor to help determine what’s right for you.
Click HERE (https://www.aperfectsmileorthodontics.com/orthodontics/) to see the different types of braces that we offer and to schedule your consultation, or feel free to call us as well.