Getting braces on only your bottom teeth is referred to as one-arch or single-arch orthodontic treatment. On the surface, it may seem like a great way to cut your orthodontic expenses in half, but the reality is a little more complex. Can you get braces just on your bottom teeth? Well, you can, but here’s why you probably shouldn’t.
Why We Don’t Recommend Single-Arch Orthodontic Treatment
Usually when a patient asks us about single-arch orthodontics, it’s because they’re happy with their top teeth, but not the bottom (or vice versa). Why pay to correct teeth that are just fine or only have small imperfections? Can you just get braces on the teeth that are misaligned and leave the rest alone?
Orthodontics is a little bit like a Rubik’s cube. Just like you can’t simply move a single square on a Rubik’s cube without moving others, the same is true of your teeth. Your teeth all work together. Move the bottom ones and leave the top alone and suddenly you’ve got teeth that are no longer working together properly.
You may feel that your upper teeth are straight and only the bottom teeth need correction, but even more important than correcting misaligned teeth is correcting problems with the bite. This can really only be accomplished with braces on both arches of the mouth because there’s a delicate interplay at work—we need to make adjustments on both arches as you undergo orthodontic treatment. If we don’t have the ability to do this, you might end up with straight teeth on the bottom that are completely misaligned with the top arch or that have a significant overbite, underbite, or cross-bite.
To put it into very non-technical terms, things just get out-of-whack. Instead of correcting crooked bottom teeth, you’ll end up creating new problems with your bite.
Alternatives to Single-Arch Orthodontic Treatment
Many patients who request braces on the bottom teeth only do so because braces there are less noticeable—they’d rather live with misaligned teeth on the top arch than have metal braces on them for a few years. This is absolutely understandable, particularly for adult patients, and in these cases, we recommended Invisalign. These clear aligners are comfortable, convenient, and discreet—no one will know you’re wearing them.
If your reason for seeking single-arch braces is to save money, ask our billing coordinator for information about payment plans and assistance. Most dental insurance covers at least some of the cost of braces and both FSA and HSA funds can be used for them as well.
In very rare circumstances, single-arch orthodontics may be appropriate, but as dental professionals, we cannot place braces on your bottom teeth only if we project that it will cause problems with your bite once treatment is complete.
Learn More About Braces
Contact us at one of our three convenient locations to schedule a consultation and learn more about your orthodontic treatment options: