Can I Get Braces Just on My Top or Bottom Teeth?

By April 3, 2017 February 22nd, 2019 Blog
Can I Get Braces Just on my Top or Bottom Teeth?

Patients at our El Dorado Hills orthodontic practice frequently ask about getting braces for the top teeth only either because their bottom teeth are straight or they feel like they’re not that visible so they don’t see the point. Less commonly, someone will visit us who is interested in braces on the bottom teeth only. While single arch treatment can be effective, there are a lot of factors that have to line up for this to be the case, which is why we take the time to evaluate your needs and concerns at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics.

What is Single Arch Orthodontic Treatment?

Single arch or one-arch treatment involves using braces or Invisalign on just the top teeth or just the bottom teeth but not both. While some orthodontists will put braces on the top teeth first before moving onto the bottom teeth, or vice versa, that’s a little different and still involves eventually addressing both sets of teeth. When an orthodontist opts for just top teeth braces or bottom teeth braces, they only do so after looking at the bite, or the relationship between the lower and upper teeth, because changing just one set of teeth will affect your “overbite.”

When is Single Arch Treatment Effective?

As we mentioned earlier, single arch treatment can be effective in certain instances. Since crooked teeth tend to shift forward once they’re straightened, if you have crowded lower teeth, straight upper teeth and a significant overbite, which is when the top teeth stick out too far past the bottom teeth, getting braces on the bottom teeth only might work.  Alternatively, braces just on the top teeth would be effective if there is spacing between the upper teeth, you have an overbite and you’re happy with how your bottom teeth look. Closing the spaces will have the opposite effect of straightening crowded teeth. It will move the teeth back, which could improve the overbite while closing gaps.

If your upper teeth are behind the bottom ones, as with an underbite, and you have crowded top teeth, single arch treatment may potentially fix the issue.  Keep in mind, if the bite is okay in the back and just the front teeth are crowded, braces on the top teeth only will create an overbite.  Sometimes we can lessen this upper arch flaring by reducing the size of the upper teeth with what is known as air rotor stripping (ARS) or interproximal reduction (IPR). Be aware that not everyone is a good candidate for these treatments though and the best way to find out if you are a candidate is to have your bite evaluated by an orthodontic specialist.

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The Risks of Getting Braces on Just the Top or Bottom Teeth

Your smile isn’t just dependent on the position of your teeth. Your bite is actually a complicated relationship that involves your jaws as well.  If your jaws are not balanced (e.g. one is larger or smaller than the other), that can definitely affect how well your teeth can fit together. There are times when single arch treatment may leave you with a worse bite, causing your front or back teeth to touch too hard (making your teeth more likely to break down or chip, or putting excess pressure on the bone and gums), or not touch at all (reducing function). The importance of an even bite is that it will help distribute everyday forces on the teeth evenly to prevent wearing of the teeth, and trauma to the teeth and gums. Our goal is a beautiful smile with a healthy bite.

When we get older, our bites tend to deepen and the front teeth overlap more, which leaves almost no space between the back of the top teeth and the front of the lower teeth. You need some clearance to align the bite so you would have to reposition both the upper and lower arch, making single arch treatment impossible.

Another factor to consider is the way teeth move depending on their position. For example, as we said before, crowded teeth will move forward when straightened and teeth with spaces between them will move backwards. If you’re suffering from an underbite and you just straighten crooked bottom teeth, it will make it worse. Teeth may appear straighter but the bite will be off. If your top teeth are the ones that are crowded and you already have an overbite, addressing them alone will cause the overbite to grow larger throughout treatment.   

The only way to determine if single arch treatment will work in your case, is to visit an orthodontist so they can evaluate your bite. If you’re interested in braces or Invisalign in El Dorado Hills, contact Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics for a free consultation. Dr. Kwong will be able to determine which course of treatment will produce the best possible results for your smile.  #SmileMoreLiveMore

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Avatar cedric says:

    will the pricing still be the same or different if i wan to treat just the upper teeth rather than both

  • Avatar Sunegha says:

    will I need to wear a clear retainer in the opposite arch if I opt for single arch treatment with aligners.

    • Hi Sunegha, that’s up to the treating doctor to describe, but it is common that a clear retainer would be used for the teeth that aren’t being moved, while the other teeth are being treated with aligners.

  • Avatar Jot says:

    My upper two teeth in the front have a gap.. would a single arch treatment help?

    • Hi Jot,
      There’s a good possibility, but I would suggest a consultation with an Orthodontist to check how much space, and if the lower teeth are in the way of closing that space. Let us know if we can help further; consultations are complimentary.

  • Avatar Ruby says:

    Hi.. actually I am wearing braces since 5 months and I have noticed that my lower teeth are pushing forward than the normal tooth alignment. And I am not sure if I am orthodontist is noticing it or not. Please tell me is it normal is shall I inform my ortho?

    • Hi Ruby, generally that’s very normal. Teeth typically do bloom like a flower, so some amount of forward movement is normal. If you’re unsure, I’m sure your Orthodontist will be able to take a look and let you know if that’s what they were expecting.

  • Avatar Heya Daud says:

    Hey i am already wearing braces. My upper arch is now well aligned and the lower arch still needs time. Can i remove braces from the upper arch and move to permanent retainers? While my lower arch straightens up.
    Or i remove the braces and use invisalign for the upper arch while my lower arch is still under treatment?

    • Hi Heya, if the upper arch is ahead of the lower arch, it’s possible that the bite might still need to be worked on with elastics or in some other way. Typically the braces are removed together once the bite and the alignment are all looking great. If you want to move to something like Invisalign on the upper, you’ll have to discuss that with your orthodontist. Invisalign is a lab and they have lab fees to fabricate clear aligners, so if you choose this route, be prepared that it will be more costly.

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