I have small to medium sized gaps between most of my front teeth and a small overbite. How long would I need braces for?
Doctor Answers 1
Maybe 4 - 6 months
However, if there is a tooth size discrepancy between the upper and lower front teeth there are two possible reasons. The upper laterals, which are the teeth next to the ones in the middle or centrals, are too small. The lateral need to be about 80% of the width of the centrals, if not, in order to close the space you would need to first close the space between the two front teeth or centrals and than increase the size of the laterals with cosmetic bonding to that esthetic 80% width. By doing this you will prevent the space from opening after orthodontic treatment.
Secondly, if the laterals are 80% of the width of the centrals than your lower front teeth may be too big. You can then slenderize in between those teeth up to about 1mm or .5mm per tooth without causing any harm to those teeth. After that space is closed there will be enough overbite to allow the space to close across you upper teeth without affecting your bite.
The critical percentage between the lower teeth divided by the upper teeth is 77%. Anything below this number you will be able to close that space without affecting you bite. Anything above this number you will need to either add bonding to the laterals or slenderize the lowers. This is called a Bolton Discrepancy, which you can google to give you more understanding about this.
The critical thing here is your bite and violating something so small as closing space and not addressing the above issues can lead to a constricted path of closure with resultant pain and/or excessive wearing of the upper and lower teeth and/or the space reopening after orthodontic treatment.
Dr. Jim Awbrey
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.