Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that have improper positioning. Crooked teeth are difficult to keep clean and are at risk of being lost early to tooth decay and periodontal disease. In addition, they cause stress on chewing muscles which can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome, neck, shoulder and back pain. Aside from pain, crooked teeth can add an avoidable layer of negative self-consciousness keeping you from expressing yourself the way you’d like. A good orthodontist can address any orthodontic issues you may have.
Get the Smile You Deserve
7 Signs You May Need Orthodontics
Only a trained professional can determine if orthodontics is right for you. They use diagnostic tools that include a full medical and dental health history, a clinical exam, stone models of your teeth, and X-rays to determine if orthodontics is the right plan.
If you have any of the following, there is a chance you may be a good candidate for orthodontic treatment:
Sometimes this is unkindly referred to as “buck teeth.” An overbite is where the upper front teeth lie too far forward and stick out over the lower teeth.
This is where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth are too far back.
When the upper back teeth bite down inside the bottom back teeth.
A space between the biting surfaces of the front and or side teeth when the back teeth bite together.
When the center of your upper front teeth does not line up with the center of your lower front teeth.
Includes gaps, or spaces, between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that do not “fill up” the mouth.
When you have too many teeth for your dental ridge to accommodate.
What is Orthodontic Treatment?
When considering orthodontic treatment, you have several options to evaluate. There are many different types of appliances, both fixed and removable, that can be used to help move teeth, retrain muscles, and affect the growth of your jaw. They work by placing gentle pressure on your teeth and jaw. The severity of your problem determines which orthodontic approach will be most effective.
The most common fixed appliances, consisting of bands, wires, and brackets. The bands are fixed around the teeth and used as anchors. The brackets are bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires are passed through the brackets and attach to the bands. Tightening the arch wire puts tension on the teeth, and gradually moves them to their proper position. Braces are typically adjusted monthly and may achieve the desired results within a specified period of time. Modern braces are smaller, lighter, and show far less metal than ones in the past. They come in fun bright colors for kids and clear styles for those who want to be more discrete. Find out more about braces here.
These are used to control thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, and are attached to teeth by bands. They can be uncomfortable during meals, and should only be used as a last resort.
When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer is used to keep the space open until the permanent tooth comes in. A band is attached to the tooth next to the empty space, and a wire is extended to the tooth on the other side of the space.
An alternative to traditional braces for adults. Serial aligners are being used by an increasing number of orthodontists to move teeth in the same way that braces do, minus the metal wires and brackets. Aligners are virtually invisible and can be removed for eating, brushing and flossing. One of the most popular aligners is called Invisalign. Learn more about Invisalign aligners here.
These devices serve the same function as fixed space maintainers. They’re made with an acrylic base that fits over the jaw and have a plastic or wire branch between specific teeth to keep the space between them.
Also called splints. These devices are worn on either the upper or lower jaw. They help train the jaw to close in a more natural position. They also can be used for temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).
Designed to keep the lips or cheeks away from the teeth. Lip and cheek muscles can exert pressure on teeth, and the bumpers help relieve the pressure.
A device used to widen the arch of the upper jaw. It’s a plastic plate that fits over the roof of the mouth. Outward pressure is applied to the plate by screws that slowly force open and widen the palatal area.
Worn on the roof of the mouth, they prevent shifting of the teeth to their previous position. They come in removable and permanent options.
A strap is placed around the back of the head and attached to a metal wire in front. Headgear slows the growth of the upper jaw and holds the back teeth in place while the front teeth are pulled back.