Orthodontic treatment is a specialist type of dental treatment that addresses teeth and jaws that are incorrectly positioned. Many people have not been blessed with naturally perfectly aligned teeth and the number of referrals for orthodontic treatment is growing year on year.
You could be forgiven for thinking that correctly positioned teeth were primarily a cosmetic concern. However, crooked teeth and misaligned bites can create a whole variety of health problems including head, shoulder, neck and jaw pain, not to mention a risk of early tooth decay due to them being particularly hard to keep clean. Therefore, orthodontic treatment is an investment in the future of your oral health, giving you a healthier mouth and a more confident smile.
Problems that can be overcome with orthodontic treatment Your dentist may recommend you for orthodontic treatment if:
Your teeth do not sufficiently fill your mouth,
leaving you with lots of gaps.
You have too many teeth trying to fit onto the dental ridge.
You have an overbite – where the top teeth stick out over the bottom teeth when biting together.
You have an under-bite – where the bottom teeth sit further forward than the top teeth when biting together.
You have an open bite – where there are spaces between the surfaces of your teeth when biting together.
You have a cross-bite – where the upper teeth fail to come down just in front of the lower teeth when biting together.
The centerline of your top teeth fails to fall in line with the center of your bottom teeth.
During your initial consultation with your orthodontic specialist, you will discuss which type of orthodontic treatment is right for you based on your specific needs. Sometimes more than one type of treatment is needed.
There are two main varieties of appliance that sit inside your mouth and address the issues with your teeth and jaws. They do this by applying firm but gentle pressure in order to retrain them to sit a certain way.
The most common type of fixed orthodontic treatment is braces. Forget the mouths full of metal of the past. Modern braces are lightweight, minimalist and available in a clear style as well as in a range of colors, making them more akin to a fashion accessory than a dental one. Braces are bonded to the teeth, and then able to be adjusted using a series of bands and wires and the frequency with which they are adjusted will vary depending on your needs.
There are also special fixed appliances available to help control thumb sucking and tongue thrusting, as well as fixed space maintainers which are used in pediatric orthodontics to keep a space open and prevent the other teeth from moving while an adult tooth waits to erupt. This is most often used if a child needs to have an infant tooth way before the adult tooth is ready.
There is a much larger range of removable orthodontic appliances available than ever before. Aligners are a great alternative to traditional braces and are virtually invisible. They can be worn all day every day and only need to be removed for eating, brushing and flossing.
Retainers are also common among orthodontic patients. They are worn on the roof of the mouth and are used to prevent the teeth from moving back into their original position and are often seen as a follow-up treatment to braces.
Other types of removable orthodontic appliances include:
Removable space maintainers
Lip and cheek bumpers
Headgear – which slows the growth
of the upper jaw and pulls the front
teeth back into a more normal position.