Orthodontics is a dental specialization in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of improper bites, caused by tooth irregularity and jaw misalignment. A dentist must complete an additional two years of schooling prior to certification as an orthodontist.
In general, straight teeth are easier to clean, lessening the risk of decay and other dental problems. Recent studies have repeatedly shown a link between orthodontic treatment and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. A proper bite allows proper chewing, which lessens the risk of digestion problems.
What causes improper bites?
Most bite problems are genetic in origin. Some cases are caused or worsened by thumb sucking, prolonged pacifier use, poor oral hygiene and poor nutrition, or injury.
Who can benefit from treatment?
Patients of all ages can enjoy the aesthetic and health benefits of treatment. The pre-teen and teen years remain the most popular time for treatment, since the jaw is still growing. However, around 30% of today’s orthodontic patients are over 18. Treatment in adults may take slightly longer, but will still yield great results.
What is involved in treatment?
After a detailed assessment that may involve bite impressions, x-rays and physical examination, and discussion of the lifestyle and needs of the patient, an orthodontist creates a treatment plan that may include:
Fixed braces – a bracket affixed to each tooth, attached by wires, often with elastic bands on the brackets to further guide specific teeth. The orthodontist attaches the braces, and adjusts them at regular intervals over the treatment period. Modern braces can be quite discreet in appearance.
Headgear – a removable appliance that sits in the mouth, fastened around the head with straps. Headgear is worn for a portion of each day, from 12-20 hours. It is often used for interceptive treatment in younger patients.
Retainer – a custom-molded, removable dental appliance used to ‘retain’ proper alignment after braces are removed, often worn at night.
Let us improve your smile – talk to us about orthodontic treatment options to suit your needs.
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