Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities (malocclusions). Orthodontic treatment is provided by an oral health care provider known as an Orthodontist, who has typically completed two to three years of additional training beyond dental school.
Recent years have brought about many changes within the dental industry, specifically 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 fluoride use and preventative dentistry. This increasing awareness on the health and look of a patient’s smile has fueled the desire for many to seek out orthodontia not only as a medical necessity, but for cosmetic reasons as well.
Whether it’s traditional braces or custom made removable appliances, orthodontics can help you have the healthy, straight, beautiful smile you’ve been waiting for!
Give us a call today and schedule your orthodontic consultation!
*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.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is one of many dental specialties. The word “orthodontics” is derived from the Greek words orthos, meaning proper or straight and odous meaning tooth. Orthodontics is specifically concerned with diagnosing and treating tooth misalignment and irregularity in the jaw area. Initially, orthodontic treatments were geared toward the treatment of teens and pre-teens, but these days around 30 percent of orthodontic patients are adults.
There are many advantages to well-aligned teeth, including easier cleaning, better oral hygiene, clearer speech and a more pleasant smile. Though orthodontic treatment can be effective at any age, the American Dental Association suggests that an orthodontic assessment should be performed around the age of seven. The earlier orthodontic treatment begins, the more quickly the problem can be successfully resolved.
What problems can be treated with orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a versatile branch of dentistry that can be used alone, or in combination with maxillofacial or cosmetic dentistry.
Here are some of the common conditions treated with orthodontics:
• Anteroposterior deviations – The discrepancy between a pair of closed jaws is known as an anteroposterior discrepancy or deviation. An example of such a discrepancy would be an overjet (where the upper teeth are further forward than the lower teeth), or an reversed over jet (where the lower teeth are further forward then the upper teeth).
• Overcrowding – Overcrowding is a common orthodontic problem. It occurs when there is an insufficient space for the normal growth and development of adult teeth.
• Aesthetic problems – A beautiful straight smile may be caused by a single misaligned tooth. This tooth can be realigned with ease and accuracy by the orthodontist. Alternatively, orthodontists can also work to reshape and restructure the lips, jaw or the face.
Orthodontics is a technologically advanced field which offers many sophisticated solutions to malocclusions and other cosmetic problems. The orthodontist will generally perform a visual examination, panoramic x-rays and study models (bite impressions) in order to assess the exact nature of the discrepancy.
When a diagnosis has been made, there are a variety of orthodontic treatment options available.
Here is an overview of some of the most common treatments:
• Fixed orthodontic braces – A metal or ceramic dental base is affixed to each tooth, and a dental wire is inserted through each base. The orthodontist is able to gradually train the teeth into proper alignment by regularly adjusting the wire. When the desired results are achieved, the fixed dental braces are completely removed.
• Removable appliances – There are a wide range of removable appliances commonly used in orthodontics, including headgear that correct overbites, Hawley retainers that improve the position of the teeth even as the jawbone reforms, and facemasks which are used to correct an underbite.
• Invisalign® – This is a newer, removable type of dental aligner that is completely transparent. Invisalign® does not interfere with eating because of its removable nature, and mechanically works in the same way as the traditional metal dental braces. Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.
If you have any questions or concerns about orthodontics, please contact our office.
What is an Orthodontist?
In much the same way as doctors choose to specialize in areas such as cardiology and neurology, dentists can also choose to specialize. Orthodontics is a dental specialty which aims to prevent, diagnose and treat facial and dental irregularities, such as malocclusions (bad bites). Many orthodontic practices are limited to dentofacial orthopedics and general orthodontics but can successfully treat patients of any age.
Orthodontists are fully qualified dentists who embark on a further three years of university-based study and gain extensive clinical experience in an orthodontic residency program. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is the regulating body for this branch of dentistry. Selecting an orthodontist who is a member of this organization adds the assurance that treatment is being administered by an individual with specialty education in oral biology and biomechanics. The AAO recommends that children should first be examined by the orthodontist around the age of seven, to ensure that jaw and tooth irregularities are not beginning to form.
How does an orthodontist realign jaws and teeth?
Initially, the orthodontist conducts a thorough examination of the jaw and teeth. Panoramic x-rays and study models (bite impressions) will be taken prior to the orthodontist making treatment recommendations. The orthodontist will recommend the best treatment plan for the patient’s particular condition.
Here is a brief overview of some of the treatments orthodontists may use:
• Dental braces – The combination of brackets (which are affixed to each individual tooth), and an archwire (which connects each bracket) are commonly placed to gently train the teeth into proper alignment. Dental braces can be made of metal, ceramics or clear (“invisible”) materials.
• Headgear and facemasks – These devices are generally used to correct a developmental problem, such as an overbite or an underbite. In addition to the dental braces, the orthodontist will design the headgear and/or facemask which fit around the head and attaches to the braces. This structure will further encourage the teeth and jawbone into alignment.
• Retainers – After the orthodontist has realigned the teeth using dental braces, removable devices or a headgear, a retainer may then be provided to ensure that the teeth do not begin to move back toward their original positions. Retainers are generally worn until the underlying bone has reformed into the correct position.
If you have any questions about orthodontists and the treatments they provide, please contact our office.
Why Straighten Teeth?
Straighter teeth perform chewing, biting and speaking functions more effectively than crooked teeth. In addition, a straight smile boosts confidence, is aesthetically pleasing to look at, and can help avoiding wide variety of dental ailments.
There are several types of malocclusion including overbite, underbite, crossbite, and overcrowding. Each of these alignment problems negatively impacts the functionality and cosmetic appearance of the teeth.
Here is a brief overview of some of the main disorders associated with crooked teeth:
Periodontitis – Periodontitis or gum disease begins with a bacterial infection. The bacterial infection is caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Crooked teeth are hard to clean effectively, which means that debris, plaque and bacteria can build up in hard-to-reach areas. Straight teeth are much easier to clean and are at less risk of contracting gum disease.
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMJ) - Crooked teeth can lead to improper jaw alignment, which in turn causes a painful condition known as TMJ. Severe headaches, jaw pain, lockjaw and the grinding of teeth characterize this debilitating disorder.
Tooth injury – Straight teeth creates a strong wall, which means injuries are less likely to occur. Crooked teeth are weaker and often protrude, making them far more vulnerable to external injury.
Uneven wear – Crooked teeth cause some of the teeth to work harder than others when biting and chewing. Straight teeth share the workload evenly, meaning less risk of injury and better aesthetics.
Teeth can be straightened using either orthodontic braces or customized aligning trays. Orthodontic braces are usually affixed to the teeth for a set duration. The brackets and archwires are tightened regularly by the orthodontist and removed when treatment is complete. Fixed braces can be placed on the front side or back side of the teeth and are effective for most types of malocclusion.
Aligning trays are fully removable and are used where the malocclusion is less severe, and the teeth need to move a shorter distance. These trays are replaced every few weeks for the duration of the treatment, and have proven to be equally effective for straightening teeth.
If you have questions about orthodontics and straightening teeth, please ask your orthodontist.
One of the primary concerns people often have about dental braces is the aesthetic impact of the metalwork on their smile. Especially for adults, the prospect of wearing unattractive metal braces for long periods of time can be very discouraging. Invisalign® offers an almost invisible aligning system that straightens teeth fast and contains no metal.
Invisalign® treatment consists of a series of custom-made aligning trays. The dentist changes the trays every several weeks to fit the new tooth configuration. In addition to the reduced visual impact, Invisalign® aligning trays can be temporarily removed for important occasions – meaning that treatment duration is patient-controlled. A great number of people report complete satisfaction with both the Invisalign® treatment and the stunning results.
What kind of bite problems can Invisalign® correct?
Invisalign® corrects the same dental problems as traditional metal braces; the only difference is that Invisalign® trays are almost invisible to the naked eye, and can be removed at will.
Here are some problems that are commonly corrected with Invisalign®:
• Overcrowding – This occurs when there is too little space for the teeth to align normally in the mouth. Overcrowding can cause tooth decay and increase the likelihood of gum disease.
• Large gaps between teeth – This can sometimes occur because teeth are missing or because the jaw continues to grow abnormally.
• Crossbite – This common dental problem occurs when one or multiple upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth. As a consequence, uneven wear can lead to bone erosion and gum disease.
• Overbite – This problem occurs when the upper teeth project further than, or completely cover, the lower teeth. Eventually, jaw pain and TMJ may occur.
• Underbite – This is the inverse of the overbite; the lower teeth project further than, or completely cover, the upper teeth. Eventually, jaw pain and TMJ can occur.
What advantages does Invisalign® offer over traditional braces and veneers?
Traditional dental braces, Invisalign® aligning trays and dental veneers are three different ways to perfect the alignment of the teeth. There are many different considerations to make when considering which treatment will be best, and each of these options works better in certain situations.
Invisalign® differs from traditional braces in that the aligning trays are fully removable. This means that more discipline and commitment is required from the patient. This is not usually a problem since the trays are comfortable and nearly invisible. Almost identical results can be obtained by using either treatment.
Invisalign® is preferable to veneers in many cases because unlike veneers, Invisalign® actually straightens the teeth. Veneers are thin covers that the dentist permanently affixes to the teeth. Teeth must be etched beforehand, meaning that to remove dental veneers, an alternative covering must be constructed. In addition to being somewhat expensive, veneers can break and often last for less than 20 years.
What does Invisalign® treatment involve?
First, the dentist needs to devise an initial treatment plan before creating the special aligning trays. Three-dimensional digital images are taken of the entire jaw. These images allow the dentist to move specific teeth on the screen, view the jaw from different angles, and also foresee what the face might look like in years to come. In essence, this technology can show how Invisalign® trays will change the facial aesthetics.
Once planning is complete, a unique set of aligners is made. The total amount of aligners required varies with each individual case.
What are some considerations when wearing Invisalign® trays?
Life with Invisalign® aligning trays may take several weeks to get used to. The trays should be worn constantly, except when eating and drinking. It is important to remove the trays when consuming food or drink because food can become trapped between the tray and the teeth, causing tooth decay.
Usually, new trays are necessary every two weeks and progress between appointments can be seen with the naked eye. There is no doubt that Invisalign® aligning trays have revolutionized orthodontics. Invisalign® is renowned for being both comfortable and effective.
If you have questions about Invisalign®, please ask your dentist.