Orthodontics is a specialist area of dentistry focused on treating problems like crooked teeth and bad bite known as malocclusion.
Orthodontic work gives you a better smile and leads to many health benefits.
The treatment is provided through braces, corrective procedures and other ‘appliances’ to straighten teeth and correct jaw alignment.
While most dentists are trained to treat minor orthodontic problems, your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist.
An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
Orthodontic treatment varies depending on the condition but most people wearing braces do so for between one and three years.
This is followed by a period of wearing a ‘retainer’ that holds teeth in their new positions.
Although a little discomfort is expected during treatment, modern materials apply a constant, gentle force to move teeth.
Today’s braces are therefore more comfortable and effective than ever before.
The idea of getting braces may at first be daunting to a teenager.
But the benefits definitely make it worthwhile.
It may be hard to believe at first but the long-term benefit is a better smile that makes you look great.
Truth is about 70% of US teenagers need braces so, if you look around your class, probably about two out of three of your friends have braces or will have them soon.
Just take a look in the mirror and decide if you like your smile.
Whatever you think now, your orthodontist will make your smile even better.
Think about how much that will boost your social life.
However, it’s not just about your smile, there are many health benefits of braces:
– You will be able to chew your food better: When teeth are not straight, you can’t chew your food correctly. This can cause an upset stomach.
– You will avoid dental problems: If you do not get orthodontic treatment when you need it, your teeth will be hard to clean and your gums will hurt.
– You may avoid developing a breathing problem: The roof of your mouth can sometimes partially block the air passages in your nose. This causes you to snore loudly and may contribute to a condition called “sleep apnea”.
Therefore braces can make a big difference to your life both now and in the future.
Orthodontic treatment is used to correct a ‘bad bite’.
Bad bite – also called malocclusion – occurs when teeth are crowded or crooked.
Sometimes teeth may appear straight but, because the upper and lower jaws do not meet properly, you can have an uneven bite.
Jaw problems and teeth that are protruding, crowded or irregularly spaced can be inherited or may be caused by factors such as accidents or losing teeth prematurely.
Orthodontic treatment leads to a healthier mouth – and an important additional benefit is that it makes you look better by giving you a better smile.
When teeth are crowded or crooked, it is more difficult to clean the mouth properly.
This can lead on to tooth decay, gum disease and even loss of teeth.
When you have an improper bite, chewing and speaking can be more difficult.
This can cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel and can lead to problems with the jaws.
Orthodontic treatment can therefore lead to improvements in your health as well as making you look and feel better.
An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed extra study in how to straighten teeth by bringing the teeth, jaw bones and facial profile into proper alignment.
The best time for a child to visit an orthodontist is between the ages of five and seven.
They are already beginning to get permanent teeth and any problems from overbite and crowding will be noticeable.
As most growth happens before age 10, it is easier to achieve the desired outcome before that age.
Even in the teenage years, results may be less effective and sometimes teeth may even need to be removed.
Visiting an orthodontist when children are younger can therefore help to ensure any possible problems are dealt with early at minimum cost and inconvenience.
Orthodontic treatment can deliver results at any age but taking action early could save money while giving your child a better smile.
While modern braces can be comfortable and inconspicuous, there are some extra steps you can take in your central hygiene to look after them better.
Firstly, you need to continue brushing your teeth regularly – your dentist will show you the best approach.
You should also continue flossing daily and making regular visits to the dentist.
When you wear braces, it’s especially useful to limit any snacks between meals.
There are also some foods that your dentist may advise you to avoid such as nuts, popcorn, hard candy, chewing gum or caramel.
Some of these may interfere with braces or accidentally bend the wires.
When you wear braces, you can still enjoy sports and other leisure activities.
Your dentist may recommend a protective mouth guard to cut any risk of injury to the mouth or jaw.
When you follow good oral hygiene practices, you can continue to wear braces comfortably while making a big difference to your smile and your dental health.
Though many people still picture a “mouthful of metal” when they think of braces, there are now many more options available.
Dental braces work by applying pressure to the teeth so that they move gradually into a new position.
The pressure usually comes from a metal wire attached to tiny brackets placed on each tooth.
These brackets are what used to create the “metal mouth”.
However modern brackets are much smaller and are glued on the front of each tooth.
Added pressure is applied to the teeth using rubber bands called ligatures.
They can be made to look more attractive using different colors or gimmicks.
In addition to the much-improved traditional braces, there are now many more options:
– Mini Braces: Smaller than traditional braces
– Clear Braces: Porcelain braces with tooth-colored brackets
– Lingual Braces: Placed behind the teeth to be less noticeable
– Removable Braces: Similar to mouthguards and made of clear plastic
Whichever types of braces you choose, they all work in the same way and help you have straighter teeth which leads to better dental health and a great smile.
Crowded or crooked teeth known as malocclusion not only spoil your smile, they also increase your risk of dental health problems.
Corrective procedures and appliances such as braces straighten teeth and correct jaw alignment.
Malocclusions are often noticed around ages 6 12, when the adult teeth begin to erupt.
The process of straightening out teeth, known as orthodontic treatment, often begins between ages 8 and 14. The best results are obtained when a child begins treatment while they are still growing.
This means its a good idea for a child to have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. At this stage, they have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth.
Its possible for braces to work later and even in adults but there are many advantages in starting as soon as possible.
Your dentist will be able to spot problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth early on, while the primary teeth are present.
Thats why regular dental examinations are important.
For adults, its not too late to correct problems such as crooked or crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, incorrect jaw position or jaw-joint disorders. The biological process involved in moving teeth is the same at any age.
The difference is that adult treatment takes a little longer than a child’s treatment. As an adult’s facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections may not be accomplished with braces alone.
But, whatever your age, it’s never too late to improve your dental health and improve your smile.