What is Orthodontics?
The value of orthodontic correction lies in its ability to improve the health of the teeth and bite by better alignment and function. The dental specialty of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics covers treatment of a broad range of dental and facial abnormalities. Through treatment, we desire to achieve properly aligned teeth and jaws that will result in a pleasing, balanced facial appearance. Besides improved oral health, patients often realize and value improved facial balance and speech. Orthodontic treatment is a lifelong investment in you – your teeth, your bite and your self-image. It is available to people of all ages, child through adult.
For those of you interested in knowing more about how orthodontics works...
The very basics:
- Brackets are bonded (glued) onto the crooked teeth.
- A wire is placed through a small slot in the brackets and held in place with small elastics. The wire is distorted to the crooked position of the teeth.
- The wire has "memory" which makes the wire want to go back to its original shape.
- As the wire goes back towards its original shape, the teeth move with it because the wire is attached to the teeth via the brackets.
Usually your dentist will inform you of the need to see an orthodontist if a problem exists. However, you do not need a referral in order to see an orthodontist, particularly if you are able to identify the existence of any of the following indications of a bad bite:
· Top front teeth protrude or are "bucked”
· Top front teeth cover more than 25 percent of the bottom front teeth when the back teeth are biting together. (Deep Overbite)
· Top front teeth grow in behind the bottom front teeth. (Cross Bite)
· A weak chin or a prominent chin.
· A space exists between the top and bottom front teeth with the back teeth biting together. (Open bite)
· Crowded, overlapped, misplaced teeth or extra teeth. (Crowding)
· Excessive spaces between teeth that persist after the top permanent canine teeth appear.
What will I accomplish with Orthodontic Treatment?
Better appearance of teeth, smile and face.
· An even bite for improved jaw alignment and function.
· Improved self-esteem and self-confidence.
· Cleaner, healthier teeth.
At what age may I start my treatment?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be seen by an orthodontist at the age of 7 years. This will allow the child's growth and changing dentition to be monitored, as well as identify and intercept potential problems early. However, you are never too old to start orthodontic treatment, and people of all ages can reap the benefits. Treatment may take a little while longer in adults, but the end result is just as pleasing.
What are the potential benefits of early orthodontic treatment?
· Influence growth of the jaws in a positive manner.
· Improve the width of the dental arches.
· Reduce or eliminate the need to extract permanent teeth.
· Reduce or eliminate the need for jaw surgery.
· Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth.
· Correct harmful oral habits.
· Improve self-image related to appearance.
· Preserve or gain space for erupting permanent teeth.
· Simplify and shorten treatment time for definitive orthodontic treatment.
· Increase stability of final treatment results.
· Reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth.
· Improve speech development.
· Help eliminate breathing problems.
· Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions.
· Improve lip closure.
· Reduce potential for damage to the jaw joints.
Can adults be successfully treated?
More and more adults are becoming aware of the fact that orthodontic treatment is not restricted to children.
Regardless of a person's age, orthodontic treatment is usually a change for the better. The mechanics involved in the movement of teeth are essentially the same in adults as in children. Gaps between teeth, crowding, protruding front teeth and teeth in abnormal positions are problems that may be corrected in the adult by orthodontic treatment.
However, because an adult's facial bones are no longer growing, certain conditions cannot be resolved with braces alone. Sometimes, surgery is required to obtain the correct result. The health of teeth, gums and supporting bone, as well as jaw relationships, are key factors in determining the prospects of improving one's appearance through orthodontic treatment.
Can orthodontics improve one's self-esteem?
Although dental health concerns are frequently the primary reason for orthodontic treatment, treatment is also initiated for the patient's emotional well being. For example, first impressions are most often based on the appearance of a person's face, mouth and teeth. Research has proven that children and adults who believe their teeth are unattractive may suffer from a lack of self-esteem and confidence. Dr. Joyce Brothers, a leading psychologist, has said the need for acceptance is something we never outgrow. An adult who feels unattractive because of crooked teeth may cover his or her mouth when speaking or laughing and may feel self-conscious in social situations. Orthodontics has the ability to improve this.