What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with straightening and correcting the tooth alignment and the dental specialist who does this is called an “Orthodontist”.
Who Needs Orthodontic Treatment?
Today children as well as adults are choosing to have orthodontic treatment since age is no longer a factor that governs the feasibility of the treatment. But as you grow older the duration of the treatment is increased since it is easier to shift and align teeth during the growth phase of the jaws. Orthodontic treatment corrects
-malocclusion (bite or occlusion is off)
-tooth malalignment (crooked teeth)
Why Treat Malocclusion?
Orthodontics is not only used to improve your appearance. Malocclusion or malaligned teeth can have long term effects, such as:
- Interference with normal growth and development of the jaws.
- Abnormal swallowing patterns.
- Abnormal facial muscle function.
- Impairment of chewing.
- Speech defects.
- Susceptibility to cavities due to the difficulty of removing plaque from crooked teeth vulnerability to accidents or fractured teeth (if your front teeth stick out, they may be more easily injured).
How Do Braces Treatment Work?
Teeth can slowly be moved and shifted into proper position by applying pressure in certain directions. Bands, wires and elastics are placed on the teeth to move them in the right direction. This takes place slowly and carefully over an extended period of time. Shifting teeth back into a functional position can take months to years, but eventually you’ll have a new and improved mouth. Retainers are often used after the braces, to hold the teeth in their new position until they are stable. It is important to wear the braces or an appliance for however long it takes. If you quit at any point during treatment, the teeth can shift back into their old position.
Conditions Requiring Braces
This is the most simple step of all. Just stand in front of the mirror and check out the following.
Are your teeth:
- Crowded teeth
- Upper teeth protruding far ahead of the lower
- Lower teeth closing ahead of the upper this is called cross bite
- Upper rear teeth, i.e. chewing teeth, closing inside the lower teeth
- Teeth falling into extraction spaces
- Upper front teeth falling backwards and grinding against the lower teeth
- Lower teeth hitting the roof of the mouth behind the upper teeth on closing
- Pain in the jaw joint just ahead of the ear
- Clicking sound in the joint during opening and closing
- Seen from the side the lower jaw looks very small
- Seen from the side the lower jaw looks very large
If one or more conditions exist. Then you need to consult an ORTHODONTIST
Benefits of Early Detection for Orthodontic Treatment
A check-up with an orthodontist no later than age 7 for children who enable the orthodontist to detect and evaluate problems (if any), advise if treatment will be necessary, and determine the best time for that patient to be treated. Patients who have clear indications for early orthodontic intervention must visit nearby orthodontic centre, early treatment presents an opportunity to:
- Guide the growth of the jaw
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches
- Guide incoming permanent teeth into desirable positions
- Lower risk of trauma (accidents) to protruded upper incisors (front teeth)
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Reduce or eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems
- Improve personal appearance and self-esteem
- Potentially simplify and/or shorten treatment time for later corrective orthodontics
- Reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
- Preserve or gain space for permanent teeth that are coming in
Healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age. Many orthodontic problems can be corrected for adults as children. Orthodontic forces move the teeth in the same way for both a 75-year-old adult and a 12-year-old child. However for adults, complicating factors such as lack of jaw growth, may create special treatment planning needs.
Causes Leading to These Conditions
Genetic Conditions are inherited from either or both parents. The person may have large tooth size from one parent and a small jaw size from another. These then produce a situation wherein the teeth either protrude out or are arranged in a haphazard crowded manner. A large or small lower jaw may be inherited from one parent and upper face may be from another. Thus causing disproportion in the face.
Acquired conditions are generally associated with the growing years specially when the milk teeth are falling off and new permanent teeth are taking their place. Teeth which fall off before their time must be replaced with space maintainers to hold the space for the successor tooth. Otherwise the space may get filled up by the adjacent teeth leaving no place for the new tooth to grow into. Teeth which stay on in the gums even when their successors have erupted need to be removed so that their place may be rightfully taken by the successor tooth.
The milk teeth have a very important role to play and must be preserved and looked after till they fall off. Decay and early loss must be taken care of at the earliest.
Habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting can lead to conditions requiring treatment with braces, These habits need to be corrected at the earliest to avoid major problems with the teeth and the supporting bones.
It is best to visit the ORTHODONTIST during the age of 8 to 11 year. This is the period when the teeth in the mouth are a mix of the milk and permanent teeth.
Best Age for Treatment
Humans are blessed with two sets of teeth in a life time. The milk teeth for the child years and the permanent teeth for the adult age. The transition from milk teeth to the permanent teeth takes place over a period of time usually from 6 years to 13 years of age. Most problems develop during this period. It is good to see a specialist ORTHODONTIST during this period.
Conditions requiring braces for treatment can be prevented to a good extent, and those conditions which have appeared can be prevented from growing in severity during this transition period from the milk to the permanent teeth. It is a good idea to start early and try to reduce the severity of the problems which have developed.
Problems to be treated with braces are problems of the growing child. These are best treated during the growing years. Children grow very fast at puberty. There are two periods well recognized for treatment. These are the pre puberty and the post puberty growth periods. These are the best times to treat as changes in the face can best be achieved at these times.
However, treatment with braces can be taken at any time. The age is not the guiding factor. What is important is the nature of the problem to be treated and the condition of the teeth and their supporting structures. That is if the gums and the holding soft bone are healthy, braces can be prescribed if indicated. Best bet is to consult the ORTHODONTIST.
Fixed Braces are never placed on milk teeth.
The treatment would generally consist of the following steps:
- Records and investigations, consisting of x rays and plaster models and history
- Case analysis and case discussion, treatment planning
- Completion of all general dental work like filling and extractions
- Fabrication of appliances and fitting
- Follow up visits till treatment goals are achieved
- Models and x rays to compare with the record and evaluate the result. End of active treatment
- Retention appliance. To retain the result and allow setting down
Is Tooth Extraction Essential?
The diagnosis is the most important part. It is very essential to understand the nature of the problem being treated. Once that is done the treatment plan decides the requirement of the appliance.
If the diagnosis indicates it, it is essential to extract some teeth for the purpose of the treatment. This should not cause any alarm, It is an internationally accepted procedure and the decision to extract is taken with all considerations in mind.
Imagine a school bench meant for four children that gets occupied by six. The result is that the children have to sit haphazardly. If the teacher were to insist on order, then either the bench would have to be made bigger or the number of children reduced. In the mouth, a similar situation arises, since the jaw bones can not be made to grow to take all the teeth, some teeth have to be reduced in number for the others to be arranged perfectly well.
The decision is always made according to the space available in the bone as compared to the space required by the teeth to be arranged perfectly. If the space available for the teeth is less, then some teeth will have to be removed to adjust the arrangement of the teeth in the mouth.
A well treated case will have teeth well set with no spaces in between them, no rotations, near perfect setting (almost like in a denture) roots well aligned and paralleled, no cross bites, teeth well angulated and perfectly tipped not tilted too far back. This will add to the beauty of the smile and help retain the teeth for a long time without decay and gum problems.