What is orthodontics?

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

Orthodontics is the straightening of teeth with the use of removable or fixed appliances. The fixed appliances are either the conventional “train track” braces or lingual braces (braces on the inside of the teeth). Invisalign is an example of a clear braces which is a removable appliance.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program following dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss. Improper oral health can lead to many other medical diseases as well. Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to brush and floss. This wil l allow you to maintain your oral health much easier. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints. These can lead to chronic headaches and face or neck pain. Treatment by an orthodontist can be less costly than the additional care required to treat dental problems arising as a result of orthodontic problems.

Early treatment on kids often helps making room for the permanent teeth before they erupt into the mouth. When kids have teeth that are crowded and orthodontic treatment has not begun the likelihood that permanent teeth will need to be removed increases. Today we have the technology to intercept severe crowding and decrease the chances of this. Severe overbite (when upper teeth protrude or stick out over the lower teeth) will leave the upper f ront teeth unprotected and make them more susceptible to chipping, breaking and even avulsion (knocking your teeth out) with mouth trauma. With orthodontic treatment the upper front teeth will sit more closely to the lower front teeth and decrease the chances of tooth trauma. Crossbites (where the upper teeth are on the inside of the lower) can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear or even jaw problems later in life.

Self image and self esteem are closely related to a person’s smile. Studies have shown that individuals feel better about themselves with the completion of orthodontic treatment and have a higher self esteem and self confidence which will benefit you for the rest of your life. Having a beautiful, confident smile will be a lifelong benefit for you or your child.

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked
Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
Upper front teeth are behind or insid e the lower front teeth (underbite)
The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
Crowded or overlapped teeth
The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
Finger- or thumb-sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
Difficulty chewing
Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
Spaces between the teeth

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. It’s best for the orthodontist to see children by age six or seven. By the n, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the bite of the back teeth. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of eruption incisors (or the front four teeth on top and bottom) can indicate overbite, open bite, crowding, crossbites, protrusion, or gummy smiles. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but a thorough examination can determine the most advantageous time to begin treatment. However, if you have missed the recommended age, don’t worry. It is never too late to start on the way to your new smile!

Am I too old for orthodontic treatment?

You are never too old for treatment. So long as your teeth, gums a nd bone levels are healthy you have options.  If you feel self-conscious about having a brace, then Invisalign or lingual braces are for you.

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?

When treatment is begun early, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaw and guide in coming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb-sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (e.g., expander or braces on some of the teeth) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth, correction of crossbites, overbites (Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth), and underbites, or harmful oral habits. Severe overbites, excessive overjet (how far the upper teeth protrude over your lower teeth), openbites and underbites are sometimes very difficult to correct. It is sometimes important to take advantage of orthodontic treatment before growth is complete. Therefore, Phase I treatment is sometimes beneficial and it may reduce the treatment time with braces in the phase II.
Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of 11 and 13.

Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

It is quite common to believe that braces are only suitable for children and adolescents. People ten d to think “It’s too late for me anyway”, but they are often mistaken.Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. 
Teeth are still movable in the adult population because the biological process allowing tooth movement is the same as in children. There are a few differences in adult and children’s orthodontic treatment, mainly the lack of growth in adults inhibiting some of the corrections possible in children. If the adult patient’s problems are largely due to a discrepancy in the jaws, a combined approach including orthodontics and orthognathic “jaw” surgery is possible. This treatment option can achieve very dramatic improvements in the appearance of the face and function of the jaws and teeth.

Orthodontic treatment for adults is often indicated to aid in tre atment planned by one’s general dentist. This combined approach is often best when teeth are missing or mal-shaped and are planned to be replaced or restored with crowns, bridges or implants. The orthodontic treatment is designed to properly reposition the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth site so that an ideal sized and shaped replacement tooth can be fabricated. Also, teeth that are overlapped and crowded can be straightened so that better access for cleaning can be achieved.

Adults also may have experienced some breakdown or loss of their teeth and bone that supports the teeth and may require periodontal treatment before, during, and/or after orthodontic treatment. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable.

Are you a good candidate for orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment can help achieve dental, facial and skeletal harmony. Malocclusions (bad bites) may occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth and feel about your smile.

Why should malocclusion be treated?

Many studies have shown that untreated malocclusions (or a bite that is not ideal) can result in a variety of problems. Malocclusions are many times impossible to see with an untrained eye. The teeth may “look” fine, when actually there may be problems with the way the teeth fit together.   An orthodontist has 2-3 additional years of specialty train ing after the completion of dental school. They are trained to look at and treat the crowding of teeth, how the bite fits together, and how the teeth will fit with the young and adult face.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic or plastic (like Invisalign®), they may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth.
The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape.

As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.
By placing a constant, gentle for ce braces slowly move teeth to a corrected position. Now is a great time for your orthodontic treatment! You can choose brackets that are clear or metal or you may be a candidate for Invisalign®. You can also choose the color of the ties for your brackets. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

How much does orthodontic treatment cost?

No two orthodontic problems are the same and the cost of orthodontic treatment will depend on the severity of the problem and the treatment required.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.During the first few days after your braces are placed, you may possibly have a little discomfort. We recommend that you take Paracetamol while you adjust to your new braces.

What is a retainer? Do I need one? Will my teeth stay straight?

Following orthodontic treatment it is necessary to wear retainers. Your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers, so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far. They are worn full time day and night for the first 3 months then night time only for an extended period of time. Remember to remove your retainer before brushing, and brush your retainer before placing it back in your mouth. You can also have the option of bonded retainers which is a piece of w ire adhered on to the inner surface of the front teeth . This usually relieves the need to wear removable retainers but you have to take care not to break them. The longer you wear your retainers, the better. Remember your teeth move throughout life regardless of having orthodontic treatment or not.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their teeth and braces by wearing a mouthguard when participating in any contact sporting activity. Mouthguards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns and we will be happy to help you choose the correct one for you. In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and your appliance for any damage that may have occurred. If you notice any loose teeth, or if your appliance has been damaged, please contact the surgery right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort with wax or by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water.

Do I need a mouth guard?

A removable device used to protect the teeth and mouth from injury caused by sporting activities.The use of a mouthguard is especially important for orthodontic patients. 
Normally a growing child would require a new mouthguard once a year. Although the teeth and bones may be growing, the mouthguards are flexible, and can accommodate some movement. Older children and adults may not grow, but the mouthguard will wear down with use and should be checked annually.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

Will braces interfere with my speach?

Conventional braces do not affect your speech. Removable brace and Lingual braces when first placed on the upper teeth can affect your speech temporarily. Normally everyone adapts within the first 3-4 weeks and speech returns to normal.

Will my teeth be damaged as a result of treatment?

Good oral hygiene is very important to prevent decalcification of the teeth. By ensuring good tooth brushing the effects of decalcification can be minimized and prevented.  Resorption of the roots can also occur to a small degree.  This can happen through out life regardless of braces.  One key factor which increases the risk of root resorption is the length of time in braces.  So again not breaking the brace is very important so as not to extend the treatment time

What happens at the first appointment?

This appointment is designed to meet you and understand your needs and concerns.  Following an initial examination it will be possible to discuss whether orthodontics is the best course of treatment for you.  If this is the correct treatment then an appointment can be arranged to have the necessary records taken to be able to fully analyze your case and then carry out an in depth consultation. A quote for your treatment will be provided to you on the same visit

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.

What should I do to start?

Come and see us. Call the surgery and make an appointment for a consultation. You will not regret it. This can be a very positive life changing step.