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YOUR HEALTH: Hey, where are the braces?

Braces mean wires and adjustments, and months or years of appointments, right? Not necessarily

It's a rite of passage for teens and young adults. 

The tugging and crimping of wires, as metal braces improve the look and function of their teeth. 

A few years ago, removable plastic aligners became an option. 

Now, an innovative orthodontic device may cut the time of treatment in half

For 24-year-old Meghan Zorc, this is the second go round with orthodontic care. 

She had braces as a teen, but recently her front teeth started to separate.

"I was having a lot of space between them, and as you can imagine, my tongue was starting to push through them," she recalled.

And, as a dental student, Meghan was extra conscious of her smile.

This time, Meghan wanted accelerated treatment. 

 She found Dr. Negaar Sagafi, one of the first in the country to offer a newly designed appliance by orthodontic company, BRIUS

It's applied to the back of the teeth.

"Instead of connecting the brackets and the teeth together, each tooth has its own independent bracket and has its own independence spring that connects to what we call a stability bar or an anchorage bar," explained Dr. Sagafi.

The BRIUS orthodontic system is available in the Chicago area.  Click here to find the closest location to you.

Dr. Sagafi says the device is customized for each patient and moves each tooth into place independently.

"The appliance, the BRIUS, is actually moving the teeth from its initial point to the final point that it needs to go to."

Because there's no bar attached to the teeth, patients can floss normally, helping to avoid cavities. 

And instead of bi-monthly or monthly visits, Dr Segafi sees patients just a few times a year.

"It's a huge, huge perk to have this appliance in my mouth all the time and never have to worry about it," said Meghan.

On average, traditional orthodontic treatment costs families between $5000 and $7000. 

Dr. Sagafi offers treatment with the device by BRIUS for about the same cost as a way to encourage patients to try the new technology. 

Dr. Sagafi lectures about the new device and is compensated by BRUIS for her travels but does not receive royalties from the company.

Other new technology

Aside from BRIUS which is the newest technology in braces, clear braces are also new in orthodontics. 

They are similar to traditional braces, but the brackets are clear. 

The brackets are made out of a ceramic or plastic material. 

They are attached to each tooth and connected with a wire. 

Treatment usually takes 18 to 24 months. 

These can come with a white over wire, making the braces even more clear-looking and less noticeable, but this could also increase the price. 

It may be uncomfortable after they are first put in, and there is the potential to develop sores on the cheeks and gums. 

Wax is given as an option to help this as the inside of the patient's mouth gets used to the new materials.  

Depending on how severe the patients need for realignment of their teeth is, another option includes aligners, which are like clear plastic retainers given in stages to help the patient's teeth move.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.