What Is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Crooked teeth and teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean, are at risk of being lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain.
The benefits of orthodontic treatment include a healthier mouth, a more pleasing appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime.
Once we have analyzed the diagnostic records, we will consult with you regarding the proposed treatment in detail. This allows you to find out what type of treatment is recommended for your particular situation and what the cost will be, get your questions answered, and get to know your orthodontist.
How Do You Know If You Need Orthodontics?
Only your dentist or orthodontist can determine whether you can benefit from orthodontics. Based on diagnostic tools that include a full medical and dental health history, a clinical exam, plaster models of your teeth, and special X-rays and photographs, an orthodontist or dentist can decide whether orthodontics are recommended, and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.
If you have any of the following, you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment:
- Overbite — where the upper front teeth lie too far forward (stick out) over the lower teeth.
- Underbite — where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth too far back.
- Crossbite — when the upper teeth do not come down slightly in front of the lower teeth when biting together normally.
- Open bite — space between the biting surfaces of the front and/or side teeth when the back teeth bite together.
- Misplaced midline— when the center of your upper front teeth does not line up with the center of your lower front teeth.
- Spacing — gaps, or spaces, between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that do not “fill up” the mouth.
- Crowding — when there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate.
The Right Time For An Orthodontic Check-Up
Even though most people think of pre-teens and teens when they think of orthodontics, there are good reasons your child should get an orthodontic evaluation much sooner. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. With an early orthodontic evaluation, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile.
Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to
- Guide jaw growth
- Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Improve appearance
- Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
- Improve the ways lips meet
Braces and Bracket Types
Braces are made from a high-grade stainless steel and have metal brackets that are attached to each tooth using a type of cement. The brackets are linked to each other with a thin archwire, which puts pressure on the teeth to cause them to move slowly into the correct position.
The arch wires are connected to the brackets using tiny elastics known as ligatures or o-rings, which your orthodontist will change each time he tightens the braces. Some types of braces have brackets that don’t need o-rings, and these are called self-ligating braces.
This involves a range of clear plastic aligners that resemble mouth guards, which are custom-made for you. They are removable for eating and cleaning, and you change them out for a newly made aligner every two weeks. Each new aligner takes the adjustment of your teeth one step further.
Clear aligners are also recommended for ongoing use after you complete your orthodontic treatment. These appliances help to maintain the results you want until your teeth have settled down and finished moving.
Retainers for teeth are mostly used as the last phase of orthodontics treatment. After the braces have been removed, teeth can shift back to their original position. So, retainers worn overnight (if not longer) can help maintain the position of straightened teeth.