You may be familiar with orthodontic treatments such as braces, but what is orthodontics? Orthodontics is the study of teeth and jaw alignment to promote optimal oral health and a beautiful smile.If you’re feeling concerned and self-conscious about protruding or crooked teeth, you aren’t alone. Not everybody has perfect alignment, but orthodontics can give you just that. Orthodontics is one of several dental specialties and is specifically concerned with treating and diagnosing tooth misalignment and jaw irregularity.
Initially, these treatments were geared toward teens and pre-teens, but these days approximately 30% of orthodontic patients are adults. This specialist branch of dentistry can work alone or along with cosmetic or maxillofacial dentistry.
What Does Orthodontics Involve?
Orthodontics deals with improper teeth positioning. A person might have an underbite, overbite, crooked teeth, overcrowded teeth, or jaw misalignment. These issues can cause problems including functional issues; such as excessive tooth wear and difficulty cleaning. Orthodontics can also serve cosmetic purposes if you desire a better smile.
In such instances, orthodontic treatments are called upon to change tooth positions in order to align them and to allow them to work better together. While certain kinds of orthodontic treatment can be efficient at any age, some issues are easier to correct at a younger age. Many orthodontists recommend that a first orthodontic assessment should occur around the age of seven years. During this first consultation, an orthodontist will screen for any issues where early intervention could lead to faster and easier treatment. Usually no treatment will be recommended at this age – but screening is necessary to determine which category your child is in. An early visit is also useful in any case, in order for your child to be more comfortable visiting the orthodontist (which is useful if treatment ends up being indicated at a later stage).
Common Orthodontic Problems
1. Antero-posterior deviations
The front-to-back horizontal inconsistency between upper and lower teeth is an antero-posterior deviation or discrepancy. An instance of such a discrepancy is an increased overjet; where your upper teeth are further forward than the lower ones. Another example is an underbite; where your lower teeth are further forward than the upper ones.
2. Vertical deviations
Front upper teeth that overlap the bottom teeth by too much can cause increased tooth wear over time. This type of bite problem can lead to other dental problems down the track. The opposite is also true – if there is a vertical gap between the top and bottom teeth (an open bite – the teeth don’t touch) there can be long-term issues of uneven wear.
3. Transverse deviations
Often called ‘a crossbite’. A crossbite is commonly caused by issues relating to the relative width of the jaws. When the upper jaw is too narrow for the bottom, a patient will often subconsciously shift their lower jaw to one side (so they can at least bite on one side). Left untreated in a growing child, this sort of temporary shifting can eventually lead to asymmetrical growth.
4. Aesthetic Problems
A misaligned tooth might mar an otherwise straight beautiful smile. An orthodontist can realign the tooth easily and accurately. Alternatively, orthodontists can work with other specialists to plan more significant changes to the jaw, lips, or face.
The common orthodontic problem occurs when there’s inadequate space for the normal development and growth of adult teeth.
The field of orthodontics provides numerous solutions to malocclusions (bite problems) and other cosmetic issues. Generally, your orthodontist will conduct a visual examination, create 3D models, and take x-rays to evaluate the precise nature of the discrepancy. Some of the common orthodontic treatments include:
1. Orthodontic or Fixed Braces
At the start of fixed braces treatment, an orthodontist will attach a ceramic or metal dental base to each tooth. They will then insert a dental wire through every base. Your orthodontist will train your teeth into appropriate alignment by adjusting the wire regularly. Once the desired results occur, the orthodontist will remove them completely.
Whilst braces may look similar to how they always have, choosing an orthodontist who uses advanced orthodontics techniques will ensure that computer technology is used to ensure your your treatment is as fast and easy as possible.
2. Removable Appliances
There’s a wide array of removable appliances that apply in orthodontics. For some orthodontic issues a good quality orthodontic lab will make your appliance by hand under direction of the orthodontist.
3. Clear Aligners (e.g. Invisalign)
The newer, removable kind of dental aligner is transparent and can be applied to most cases that would otherwise have needed conventional braces. Invisalign is one such brand available for orthodontists to use, and uses computer technology to pre-plan movements to as many teeth as needed. However, while clear aligner treatment is effective in the many cases, it looks and feels completely different to traditional braces. During the clear aligner treatment, an orthodontist will provide a patient with a series of clear aligner trays. The patient will wear each set of trays over the period of 1-2 weeks, to guide teeth into the new desired position.
If you’re self-conscious about your crooked or misaligned teeth, a consultation with a specialist Orthodontic office such as Fine Orthodontics will provide you with a detailed diagnosis and a personalised treatment plan.