Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry that is concerned with diagnosing, treating and preventing malocclusions (bad bites) and other irregularities in the jaw region and face. Orthodontists are specially trained to correct these problems and to restore health, functionality and a beautiful aesthetic appearance to the smile. Though orthodontics was originally aimed at treating children and teenagers, almost one third of orthodontic patients are now adults. A person of any age can be successfully treated by an orthodontist.
A malocclusion can affect anyone at any age, and can significantly impact the individual’s clarity of speech, chewing ability and facial symmetry. In addition, a severe malocclusion can also contribute to several serious dental and physical conditions such as digestive difficulties, TMJ, periodontal disease and severe tooth decay. It is important to seek orthodontic treatment early to avoid expensive restorative procedures in the future.
What problems can orthodontics treat?
Orthodontics can treat a wide range of dental problems and in most cases, completely realign the teeth. Orthodontists may work alone, or in combination with a maxillofacial surgeon.
The typical irregularities requiring orthodontic treatment are as follows:
- Overcrowding– An overcrowded mouth means there is insufficient space within the jaw for all of the adult teeth to fit naturally. Overcrowding may lead to displaced, rotated or completely misaligned teeth.
- Overbite– An overbite refers to the protrusion of the maxilla (upper jaw) relative to the mandible (lower jaw). An overbite gives the smile a “toothy” appearance and the chin looks like it has receded.
- Underbite– An underbite, also known as a negative underjet, refers to the protrusion of the mandible (lower jaw) in relation to the maxilla (upper jaw). An underbite makes the chin look overly prominent. Developmental delays and genetic factors generally cause underbites and overbites.
How can orthodontics help?
Orthodontic dentistry offers techniques which will realign the teeth and revitalize the smile. There are several treatments the orthodontist may use, depending on the results of panoramic X-rays, study models (bite impressions), and a thorough visual examination.
Fixed dental braces can be used to expediently correct even the most severe case of mALalignment. These braces consist of metal or ceramic brackets which are affixed to each tooth and an archwire which is used to gradually move the teeth through the duration of the treatment.
Removable appliances include headgear (which consists of a metal wire device attached to customized braces), retainers, Invisalign® aligners (which are almost invisible to the naked eye), palate expanders and tooth movers. Faceguards are generally used to correct developmental delays in both the upper and lower jaw, and palate expanders are used to combat overcrowding.
Whatever the dental irregularity or the age of the individual, orthodontic appliances can properly realign the teeth and create a beautiful smile.
Orthodontic Treatment (Braces)
The benefits of orthodontic treatment often go beyond the obvious physical changes of an improved bite and straighter teeth; it’s also a great way to improve a person’s overall self-image. While having beautiful straight teeth is important, even more important is the need to alleviate any potential health problems associated with the teeth or jaw. Crooked teeth or jaw problems may contribute to improper cleaning of teeth, leading to tooth decay and, possibly, gum disease or total tooth loss. Orthodontic problems that go untreated can lead to chewing and digestion difficulties, speech impairments, and abnormal wear of tooth surfaces. Over time, excessive strain on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth can affect the jaw joints leading to problems such as headaches or face and neck pain.
With all of the recent advancements in orthodontics, wearing braces has never been easier. State-of-the-art appliances and treatments are now available, from traditional metal braces, to clear and tooth colored brackets, to HANT type wires that are heat activated and require fewer adjustments! Some patients may even be candidates for treatment with Invisalign, a revolutionary way to straighten teeth using clear, retainer type aligners that require no braces or wires!
If treatment is necessary, we will thoroughly discuss which treatment option is best suited for you!
Reasons for orthodontic treatment (braces) adults & children:
- Breathing or swallowing problems– Mouth breathing can lead to snoring and sleep apnea.
- Crossbite– One or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth (towards the tongue).
- Crowding– Involving extra teeth or malpositioned teeth.
- Deep Overbite– The lower front teeth bite into the upper tissue of the upper teeth.
- Disfiguring of the face & mouth– Affects the development of the jaw and position of the teeth.
- Jaw & jaw joint pain
- Missing or extra teeth– Due to tooth decay, injuries, or inherited problems.
- Overjet (protruding upper teeth)– Upper teeth that protrude beyond normal and are usually associated with a short lower jaw.
- Self-image– An attractive smile can boost a person’s self-image and confidence.
- Spacing between teeth– Teeth are missing or may be too small or too large.
- Speech, chewing or biting problems
- Underbite (lower jaw protrusion)– Lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.
Specific to children:
- Finger or thumb sucking– These habits can cause protrusion of the upper incisor teeth, and mouth breathing.
- Teeth erupting out of position– Can be guided to proper alignment.