The field of orthodontics continues to progress with new and innovative techniques. One such innovation is known as a TAD — Temporary Anchorage Device. Best described as “mini-implants,” TADs provide orthodontists with more precise control over the movement and positioning of certain teeth that could reduce treatment time.
Braces, the most common form of orthodontic device, are small brackets affixed to the outside of the teeth. We thread small flexible wires through the brackets which in turn apply gentle pressure to the teeth. This puts pressure on the periodontal ligament, an elastic tissue that holds the teeth in place to the jawbone. The ligament has small fibers that insert into the teeth and are held there by a substance called cementum. The pressure on the ligament causes it to form new bone, ligament and cementum as it moves into the new desired position.
Of course, each orthodontic case is different. The best outcome for some patients is to move only certain teeth, while minimizing movement on others. This involves a concept in orthodontics known as “anchorage,” a planned circumstance where certain teeth or groups of teeth are immobilized (or “anchored”) to prevent movement.
TADs do just that — they are, in effect, mini-screws or implants temporarily placed in the jaw bone to inhibit movement of a specific tooth or group of teeth, while not interfering with the movement of the misaligned teeth. These tiny devices are typically installed using only local anesthesia to numb the general location of their placement, and then removed when orthodontic treatment is completed.
TADs are part of an overall strategy to correct poor bite and teeth misalignment in the most precise and efficient way possible. They require planning, sometimes through consultation with different dental disciplines, to assure that their placement won’t damage nerves, sinuses or other vital structures. Their use, though, could help shorten treatment time with braces, and help contribute to the best possible outcome — a new smile.