What you need to know about orthodontics

Orthodontics is a category of dentistry that deals with issues such as crooked teeth, spacing of the teeth and bad bites. Individuals with spaced out teeth, crooked teeth, overbites or underbites often seek treatment to improve the look of their smile. However, orthodontics is not just for aesthetics. In fact, orthodontic treatment such as fixing crooked teeth will not only improve the appearance of a smile but can significantly boost the function, stability, and health of the teeth. This is because treatment improves the alignment of teeth in the jaws and can even alleviate some symptoms of sleep problems. Previously, orthodontic treatment was only common among preteens and teenagers. However, it’s now quite common for adults to consider visiting an orthodontist because of the many benefits involved.

When to consider orthodontic treatment

Orthodontic treatment is recommended for patients with any of the issues below:
  • Misplaced, spaced, crowded or protruding teeth
  • Impacted teeth
  • Poor jaw alignment, often known as underbite, overbite or open bite. This occurs when the teeth do not meet correctly or at all.
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders
  • The improper spacing of teeth which may occur when the patient loses baby teeth too early. Overcrowding or disfiguration of teeth can also cause spacing issues.
  • Issues with chewing and biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Grinding or clenching the teeth
  • Uneven face shape. Some diseases can cause disproportion in the shape of the face and affect teeth function and appearance.
  • Habits like finger sucking, tongue thrusting or lip wedging. These habits can cause the teeth to stick out in an undesirable fashion or the jaws to grow incorrectly.
  • Individuals who are seeking a full mouth reconstruction
  • Patients with sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea or snoring
  • Biting the inside of the cheek
  • Failing to protect your teeth with mouth guards or any other protective gear when playing sports or athletic activities.
  • Tooth injuries that cause orthodontic problems

Orthodontic treatment can be used to address the issues mentioned above. If these issues are ignored, they could result in serious problems that are more complex to treat.

Why you need orthodontic treatment for the issues above

  • To improve your overall oral hygiene: Failure to treat issues like crooked teeth can cause gum disease which if untreated can lead to tooth loss. You’ll spend more money treating the dental issues and expose your body to serious health problems.
  • To improve your appearance: Orthodontic treatments can also give you a much better appearance. This will allow you to excel in social situations and achieve your dreams.
  • You can prevent jaw problems like TMJ which need more costly treatment, mostly surgery.

Orthodontic treatment can also help you to:

  • Get rid of body issues like earaches, neck and shoulder pain
  • Improve your ability to chew and speak properly
  • Avoid breathing and sleeping problems like snoring and sleep apnea
  • Reduce the risk of abnormal wear and tear on the tooth enamel
  • Get rid of migraines and constant headaches
  • Improve your self-confidence
The Main Advantages of Orthodontics

Misaligned jaws and teeth can limit the function of the mouth. In severe cases, the individual may have trouble talking and eating. Therefore, orthodontics is categorized as a restorative process. This treatment helps to not only improve the appearance of the teeth and jaws but also their function.

According to research, a beautiful smile can improve your social status. It makes one look more friendly and approachable. This can be an important feature in your personal and career progression. Getting a beautiful smile can help you secure more job interviews and spice up your dating life. That’s why orthodontics is closely associated with cosmetic dentistry.

At our dental clinic, we’ll walk you through the options available to improve both your health and the appearance of your smile. We will perform orthodontic treatments to reposition your teeth and their roots. Our advanced orthodontic technologies enable us to produce the best results with more comfort and less recovery time.

When combined with other dental treatments like maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics can work wonders in terms of improving the patient’s appearance. This surgery works on improving the alignment of the jaw, lips, and neck to give you a better-looking appearance. It becomes easier to maintain good oral habits when your teeth are properly aligned.

Among the benefits of orthodontic treatment include:
  • Get healthier gums and teeth by eliminating spaces that cause bacteria to accumulate in the mouth.
  • Improve the look of your smile
  • Get relief from sleep problems like snoring and sleep apnea
  • Get straighter, better-looking teeth
  • Improve your bite
  • More confidence and self-esteem

How to get started with orthodontic treatment

If you’re interested in orthodontic treatment in order to improve your health and aesthetics, book an initial consultation at our dental clinic. Our dentist will perform a thorough examination of your mouth to determine the look and function of your teeth and jaws. The dentist may request for tests such as cephalometric and panoramic x-rays to properly assess the condition of your jaws and teeth. Impressions or molds can be created to highlight any tooth alignment and bite issues.

These examination methods will give the orthodontist adequate information which he needs to come up with a customized treatment plan that is best suited for your goals and needs. Sometimes the dentist may recommend using traditional braces or clear aligners to fix the issue. In other cases, you may be told to use a combination of treatments such as aligners and a retainer to solve the issue you’re currently experiencing.

The main types of orthodontic treatment

Before the orthodontist recommends a specific treatment option, he/she will thoroughly assess the situation and have a discussion with the patient to determine their unique needs. Your orthodontist will go over some common treatment options and help to guide you on what’s ideal for your situation.

Braces

Braces are the most common type of orthodontic treatment commonly recommended by dentists. There are two main types of braces: traditional metal braces and clear Invisalign braces. What’s recommended will depend on your unique needs.

The dentist may also use other orthodontic treatment strategies such as palatal expanders, space maintainers and other appliances which we shall go over below.

Traditional braces

Traditional braces have been used for many years and they are the most popularly known form of orthodontic treatment. These braces have brackets and wires which are designed in such a way that they move the teeth slowly into the desired position and then hold them in place. The brackets, which connect wires between the teeth, can be made of ceramic, plastic or metal.

  • Metal brackets are the most common. They are very strong and often recommended for complex bite problems. The main drawback of metal brackets is that they aren’t aesthetically pleasing.
  • Ceramic brackets, on the other hand, can be designed to mimic the color of the teeth. They can also be clear and less noticeable, which is why some patients prefer them over metal brackets.
  • Inside braces are attached to the back side of the teeth so they can be less noticeable. This is not a common alternative.

These traditional braces can be fixed with a special orthodontic cement which only a qualified dental professional can remove. With the removable appliances, it’s highly advised against taking them out regularly because this can affect the progress of your treatment.

Plastic aligners

Plastic aligners are braces which are specially customized to suit the patient’s mouth. These aligners are removable, so they can be taken out when brushing, flossing or eating. The aligners are designed to be worn at intervals. Mostly, the patient is required to wear the next model after two weeks. Plastic aligners are more appealing because they’re not easily noticeable. They are also removable so there’s a low risk of food particles and bacteria getting trapped inside the braces. If you have mild spacing issues, the orthodontist may recommend plastic aligners. However, these braces are not recommended for kids or adolescents because their teeth and jaw are still growing and changing. The aligners do not have the strength to counteract the natural growth forces inside the mouth.

Space maintainers

These appliances are designed to fill the gap in the mouth that forms when a patient’s baby tooth comes out prematurely. It helps to prevent the other teeth from taking over this space and causing issues like crowding or crookedness when the permanent teeth come in. Space maintainers can be custom fit to suit the patient’s needs. When applied, they can help to prevent future orthodontic problems before they occur. The appliances are small and can go unnoticed at any time.

Palatal expanders

Some patients have a small mouth that’s not wide enough to facilitate proper jaw alignment. If this is the case, a palatal expander can be used to widen the upper arch of the mouth. This device serves as a foundation for future treatment. It’s often used for children 8-10 years of age at their developmental stage.

Removable Computer-generated appliances

There are rare cases where the orthodontist may use computer-generated appliances instead of braces to treat certain issues. These appliances are specially customized and hence are often very costly.

How long does treatment take?

The treatment period varies depending on the severity of the condition and the path you take towards recovery. Typically, orthodontic treatment can take about 2 years but there are other factors that could prolong this period such as:

  • The patient’s age
  • The amount of work that needs to be done
  • How well the patient follows the prescribed treatment plan

It’s common for younger patients to complete treatment much faster than the older ones because their bones are more malleable and will easily shift to achieve the desired goal. If the patient’s malocclusion is severe, the dentist may recommend oral or maxillofacial surgery with any orthodontic treatment is given.

If the patient keeps up with the recommended oral hygiene and instructions given by the orthodontist, the treatment will be completed in less time than a patient who doesn’t. After around two years of orthodontic treatment, almost all of the patients should wear a retainer for specific length of time to hold the teeth in their new position.Some patients may need to wear a retainer for the rest of their life to prevent the risk of reversing the effects of treatment.

No matter how long treatment takes, rest assured that you’ll love the results of the orthodontic treatment and your new smile will be worth the wait.
King West Dentistry