Orthodontics, what is it really?
Orthodontics is a section of dentistry where they can help and realigns jaws and teeth that are incorrectly lined up. If teeth are not aligned or do not fit each other they are more difficult to clean and more importantly could easily get a disease and as the teeth do not line up chewing is more difficult and strenuous and therefore your muscles that control chewing have to work harder and in a different way. Headaches could be caused, back, neck and shoulder problems could be cause as well and it’s all bad really. And to add to all that you could look different, which as we all know is not a great start.
The main benefits of having your teeth and jaws treated by an Orthodontist, is it will lead to your teeth, jaws and surrounding muscles all working in the way they were intended. Therefore a more beautiful look and healthy teeth and gums!!!
These clever people train for 2 extra years beyond the dental course and are called, wait for it; Orthodontists, could have guessed that one, right?
Orthodontist – Do I need one?
You need to ask your dentist first, they will refer you to an Orthodontist if they think it is relevant and then you will find out more, it is always best to ask to be sure.
The expert here is the Orthodontist and they will decide if treatment will help. This will be worked out by reviewing your medical history, dental history, examinations, x-rays and their professional opinion based on years of experience. Once they decide it is a good idea to begin treatment, they will produce a plan for you.
You may have one of the following, if so you may need treatment by an Orthodontist:
- Overbite — often called “buck teeth” — your upper front teeth stick out over your lower teeth
- Underbite — often called “bulldog”, your lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth too far back
- Crossbite — your upper teeth don’t come down just in front of the lower teeth when biting
- Open bite — a space between your teeth’s surfaces of the front and/or side teeth when the back teeth bite
- Misplaced midline — your upper front teeth’s centre does not line up with the centre of your lower front teeth
- Spacing — any gaps between your teeth either by teeth gone missing
- Crowding — basically where you have too many teeth
Orthodontic Treatment, how does it work?
There are several methods with differing products that can be attached or removed, these basically assist the teeth, jaw and surrounding muscles to move back to where they should be. And they work by easing and realigning teeth, jaws and muscles. The strength of the easing will depend on how much misaligned they are, the type of procedure will be defined by this review.
Fixed appliances include:
- Braces — the normal fixed product, they consist of bands, wires and/or brackets. Bands are adjusted and secured around the teeth and used as anchors for the brace, while brackets are most often bonded to the front side of the teeth. Arched wires are threaded through the brackets and attached to the bands. Tightening the arched wires puts tension on the teeth, gradually easing them to their correct position. Braces are normally adjusted every month to align the teeth, which may be finished within a few months to a few years. The braces now are smaller, lighter and far less obvious with less metal than in the past. They can come in cool colours for children as well as clear styles preferred by most adults.
- Speciality appliances that are secured — used to control the sucking of thumbs or tongue thrusting, these appliances are secured to the teeth by bands. They should be used only as a last resort as they can be quite uncomfortable, especially during meals.
- Maintainers that are spaced— a space maintainer is employed to keep the tooth space open if a baby tooth falls out until the permanent tooth pops through. 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.
Removable appliances include:
- Aligners — an adult alternative to traditional braces, more serial aligners are being used by orthodontists to realign teeth in a similar way that attached appliances work, without the need for metal wires and brackets. Aligners are almost invisible and can be removed to eat, brush and floss.
- Removable maintainers for space management — these devices serve the same function as space maintainers that are fixed. They’re produced to fit over the jaw with an acrylic base, and to keep the space between them open they have plastic or wire branches between specific teeth.
- Jaw repositioning appliances — these devices are worn on either the top or lower jaw, also sometimes called splints, and help realign the jaw to close in a more favorable position. Temporomandibular joint disorders can be addressed this way.
- Bumpers for Lip and cheek — the design here is to keep the cheeks & lips away from the teeth. These bumpers help relieve that pressure as lip and cheek muscles can exert pressure on the teeth.
- Palatal expander — an appliance to widen the arch of the upper jaw. It fits over the roof of the mouth and is a plastic plate. The palatal area is widened by outward pressure applied to the plate by screws force the joints in the bones of the palate to open lengthwise.
- Removable retainers — these devices prevent shifting of the teeth to their previous position and are worn on the roof of the mouth. Thumb sucking can also be addressed this way.
- Headgear — the growth of the upper jaw is slowed, and it holds the back teeth in position while the front teeth are pulled back.with this device, a strap is put around the head at the back and attached to a metal wire in front, or face bow.