Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Not only can your orthodontist help you have a healthy, straight and beautiful smile, orthodontic treatment is an investment in your overall health and self confidence.
Most malocclusions (teeth that don’t fit together properly) are inherited, though some may be caused by thumb sucking, teeth grinding and spacing that occurs due to the early loss of a baby teeth or adult tooth extraction. Problems that go untreated can result in broken teeth, chewing and digestion difficulties, TMJ disorders, headache, neck pain, speech impairments, abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.
Reasons for Orthodontic Treatment:
- Breathing or swallowing issues
- Cross bite – the top teeth bite inside the lower teeth
- Crowding – extra teeth or improperly positioned teeth
- Deep Overbite – the lower front teeth bite into the tissue along the top teeth
- Underbite – lower jaw protrusion
- Overjet – protruding upper teeth
- Disfigured mouth/jaw
- Jaw and jaw joint pain
- Missing or extra teeth
- Spacing between teeth
- Speech, chewing or biting problems
- Self-image - improved appearance of the smile
Because children’s teeth are fairly pliable and the bone is relatively soft and continually growing and changing, it is easy to guide and correct the bone growth in children. That’s why treatment should ideally begin during the child’s growth-spurt years, before potential skeletal problems can become firmly established. Individualized orthodontic treatment plans are designed to guide and enhance the child’s natural growth and ensure proper alignment and jaw development.
Improving the health of your teeth and gums is always important – in all stages of life. Orthodontic treatment at later stages in life can not only help to improve your overall health, it can enhance your personal appearance and self-esteem. It’s never too late to have that straight, beautiful smile you’ve always wanted.
Your orthodontist will review your medical and dental history and take X-rays, photos and impressions of your teeth. Then we’ll discuss malocclusions and how we can improve appearance of your smile. An individualized treatment plan and estimate of treatment time will be determined.
The planning phase includes:
- Medical and dental history and evaluation
- Discussion of how to improve your smile
- Castings or impressions of your teeth
- Computer generated photo of the head and neck
- Photographs of your face and mouth
- X-rays of the teeth and jaws
After careful evaluation, your orthodontist will determine the type of treatment required to achieve the desired result. Using the latest advancements on orthodontics, your doctor will create an individualized treatment plan using braces and appliances to correct malocclusions and provide ongoing assessment, adjustment and cleaning.
Cleaning is important during treatment because the brackets, archwire and the elastics on braces can cause food to easily become trapped and plaque buildup increases. Maintaining optimal oral hygiene is essential in order to avoid tooth decay and gum disease.
Metal braces are the most common type. With the latest advancements in orthodontics, metal braces are more comfortable today than ever before. Stainless steel metal brackets are attached to the teeth and they align the teeth using metal archwires. Patients have the option of using colored brackets or adding colored elastics for a more individualized appearance.
Ceramic braces are usually used on older teenagers and adult patients who are concerned about the appearance of braces because the brackets are made from a material that is less visible than metal braces. While less prominent, ceramic braces require more attention because they are larger and are more brittle than metal braces so they are more commonly used on upper front teeth rather than the lower teeth.
Invisalign is proven technology designed to give you the smile you've always wanted without the pain and inconvenience of metal and ceramic braces. Invisalign uses virtually invisible, removable and comfortable aligners to straighten the teeth. No one can tell you are wearing Invisalign! The aligners have no metal so they are comfortable to wear and will not cause mouth abrasions. Plus, you can easily remove these aligners to eat and drink what you want and brush and floss your teeth.
When treatment is completed, your braces or appliances are removed and you will be given a new appliance such as a removable retainer or fixed retainer. Retainers will help to maintain the corrections that were made during treatment and are used consistently until your teeth and bone are firmly established in their new positions. Retainers are usually worn at night after used daily for a period recommended by our doctors. The length of time that a retainer will be used will be determined by your orthodontist.
The duration of treatment and retention phases will vary with each patient.