What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that treats malocclusions, or ‘bad bites’. A bad bite occurs when the lips and/or jaws don’t line up the way they should, resulting in crooked teeth, a bite that doesn’t work properly and jaws that look unbalanced.
An orthodontist fixes a bad bite using braces and ‘appliances’. This correction of the teeth and their supportive structures makes for a healthy, attractive smile.
What Causes Orthodontic Problems?
The majority of bad bites are inherited. Genetic problems include protrusion, crowding, spacing, extra or missing teeth and jaw growth problems.
Other bite problems develop over time due to thumb sucking, loss of primary or permanent teeth, an accident, etc.
Why Treatment Is So Important.
When your teeth are crooked and crowded they are difficult to clean which can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss and gum disease. A bad bite also leads to uneven wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty chewing and speaking, added stress on supporting bone and gum tissue and jaw joint problems.
On the emotional side, an unattractive smile can reduce confidence and self-esteem. Left untreated a child or adult may go thru life with a hand covering their mouth or never smiling.
If left untreated a bad bite may lead to more costly dental treatments in later years.
When should children get an orthodontic check-up?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children visit their orthodontist by age seven. At this age orthodontists can recognize issues that are easier to correct when found early.
Can adults benefit from orthodontic treatment?
Braces work at almost any age. Roughly one in five orthodontic patients is over age eighteen. Treatment has become more appealing to adults because of solutions that are less visible and more comfortable.
Are There Choices for the Braces?
Patients should have choices in the appliances that will be used to straighten their teeth:
- Metal Braces: These are the most durable braces suited for patients that want to show off their braces and/or the popular colored elastic ties.
- Invisalign: This clear plastic appliance is invisible and replaced every two weeks. This solution is suited to patients not interested in wearing traditional braces but may not be suitable for complex orthodontic problems.
- Ceramic Braces: These are clear braces designed for patients wanting an esthetic solution and excellent treatment quality.
What is my role in treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is a combined effort of dentist and patient. The patient needs to follow the orthodontist’s instructions, attend all orthodontic appointments and maintain an excellent oral hygiene regimen – this includes brushing at home and keeping regular checkups with your general dentist.
How Long Does Treatment Take?
Orthodontic treatment generally takes one to three years plus retention – the retention phase of treatment involves the use of retainers and starts after braces are removed.
How much does treatment cost?
The cost of orthodontic treatment depends on the extent of the bad bite and the length of treatment. Your orthodontist will discuss the cost of treatment and financing options before treatment begins. Braces are far more affordable today than ever.