Getting braces is usually not something people look forward to, especially adults, but now, there's a new procedure developed by New York University orthodontists that cuts the length you have to wear braces by as much as half. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
Plenty of adults find themselves faced with a decision of whether to get braces. For Rehab Uosef, it was either fix her gaps now or endure major tooth problems in the future.
"I was looking into three years of braces, and I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm never going to get these off,' you know?" she says.
Uosef's doctor referred her to a team at New York University's College of Dentistry, where they've developed a new procedure that shortens the length of time braces are needed.
"We're calling it micro-osteoperforations, because you are literally poking very tiny holes through the gum into the bone surrounding the teeth," says Dr. Cristina Teixeira, the department chair at NYU Orthodontics.
Teixeira and her colleagues discovered that they could get teeth to move faster with targeted inflammation, a simple biological response. They worked with a manufacturer to create a hand drill that limits the depth of the hole punctures, just scratching the bone.
"Controlled inflammation that allows the bone to change, to become porous around the teeth, as we apply the forces through the braces and the wires," Teixeira says.
Holes are drilled in the gums every other month. Because gums heal very quickly, there's no scarring and little discomfort.
"The next day was sore, but you can feel like your teeth are shifting," Uosef says.
During clinical trials, Teixeira says that they were able to move teeth twice as fast. However, it all depends on when you start the procedure.
Uosef was able to shave a year off the amount of time she needed braces.
"I'm in meetings and presentations all the time," she says. "It's always on my mind, like how people see, when people look at you, they look at your smile, they look at this so it's nice to know that soon, they will be off, and that won't be the focus of my face."
The next step is figuring out how to use the same technique to fix severe bite problems that normally would require surgery.
"What happens if the space is really large and now, we want to close a large space that before was not possible? Will the bone follow?" Teixeira says. "That is happening in our clinic."
More clinical trials will follow.