Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry specialising in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities (also called malocclusions).
Malocclusion is the technical term for teeth that don’t fit together correctly. Malocclusions not only affect the teeth, but also the appearance of the face. Most malocclusions are inherited; however some are due to acquired habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting. The spacing left from an adult tooth being extracted or an early loss of a baby tooth can also contribute to a malocclusion.
Recent years have brought about many changes with regards to orthodontic treatment and care. Now more than ever patients are experiencing fewer incidences of cavities and missing teeth due to the heightened awareness of preventative dentistry. The increasing awareness of dental and oral health as well as a patient’s appearance and smile has increased the desire of many patients to seek out orthodontic treatment. This is done not only as a dental necessity, but for cosmetic reasons as well.
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-
While having beautiful straight teeth is important, even more important is the need to prevent or 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-
Reasons why orthodontic treatment might be needed. (This applies to both adults & children):
Breathing or swallowing problems – Mouth breathing can lead to snoring and sleep apnea.
Crossbite – One or more upper teeth biting inside the lower teeth.
Crowding – Too little space for teeth leading to teeth being malpositioned.
Deep Overbite – The lower front teeth bite into the gum tissue of the upper teeth or sometimes even into the palate.
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.
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.
Reasons why orthodontic treatment might be needed. (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 – These teeth can be guided to proper alignment.
What does orthodontic treatment involve?
Orthodontic treatment involves three phases:
1. Planning Phase – Your first couple of visits may include the following:
A medical and dental history evaluation.
Castings or “molds” of your teeth.
Computer generated photograph of the head and neck that will aid in planning.
Photographs of your face and mouth.
After careful planning, your orthodontist will design and apply braces or fabricate custom-
2. Active Phase – Active treatment involves visiting your orthodontist on a regular basis for adjustments and following specific treatment requirements to ensure successful treatment.
3. Retention Phase – When treatment is completed, the braces and/or appliances are removed and new appliances, called retainers are made. Usually these retainers are removable and will maintain the changes made to your teeth if worn continuously until the teeth and bone are stabilized in their new positions.
Treatment and retention times vary depending on each individual case. Your orthodontist will advise you about your specific needs to ensure the long-