Orthodontics is a specialized aspect of dentistry that focuses on diagnosing, preventing and treating dental and facial abnormalities. Your orthodontist is able to straightening teeth, correct misaligned jaw structures and improve the function of your smile.
Although it is easy to understand the cosmetic benefits of straight teeth, many do not realize the health benefits associated with straightening your teeth. When teeth are in malocclusion or are misaligned, they are more susceptible to bacteria build up, cavities and periodontal disease. When teeth cannot be cleaned properly, they have an increased risk of mobility and eventual tooth loss.
Orthodontics today is innovative and not how most adults remember it as kids! Orthodontics used to consist of large metal bands that were placed around each tooth. Today, the materials are much less noticeable and are designed to move teeth more efficiently. Your doctor will discuss your different treatment options and what is best for you!
Orthodontics for Children
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends visiting the orthodontist around the age of seven. By this age, most children have both primary (baby) teeth and permanent (adult) teeth, which makes it easier to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgical intervention. Not all children need orthodontic treatment, but an evaluation is necessary to determine which children can benefit from treatment.
We recommend monitoring your child for the below conditions and having an evaluation by an orthodontist:
- Thumb, pacifier or other oral habit
- Crowded or misplaced teeth
- Difficulty chewing or eating
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Jaw that is not proportionate to the rest of the face
- Teeth that come together abnormally
- A jaw that pops or makes sounds when opening and closing
Early treatment is beneficial because:
- Creates more space for crowded teeth
- Can avoid the need for future oral surgery
- Avoids the need for permanent (adult) teeth to be extracted
- Corrects thumb sucking or other oral habits and helps improve minor speech problems
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower jaws
- Corrects and guides the growth of the child’s upper and lower jaw to help the permanent (adult) teeth to come in the proper place
Braces on baby teeth?
Growth and development of your child’s baby or primary teeth is essential for proper overall health. Your child’s primary teeth are very important because they save space in the jaw that is needed for proper development of the permanent teeth. Often times a thumb, finger or pacifier habit contributes to the movement of the teeth and jaw bones. In other circumstances, malocclusions or misalignments of the teeth and/or jaw are simply genetic.
Why are children getting braces so young?
Not all children need early orthodontic treatment (Phase I), but if your doctor recommends early orthodontic treatment for your child, remember that this is the best treatment for your child! A simple misalignment can be fixed with quick orthodontic treatment if it is completed at a young enough age. If this essential window of time is missed and the bone is done growing, the problem can turn from a dental condition to a skeletal condition. This can no longer be treated with braces, but now may have to be treated with invasive and expensive jaw surgery or even removal of permanent teeth!
Orthodontics for Teens
Orthodontic braces may have had a bad reputation in the past, but today’s braces make it easy to look and feel good during teenage year! Our office offers a variety of types and styles of braces especially for teenagers! Some options include:
- Invisible braces
- Ceramic braces
Every teenager wants to know how long he or she will be in braces. We understand that teenagers may want treatment to be quick which is why we have a few recommendations!
- Get treatment early! Early treatment allows the orthodontist to monitor the growth of the jaw and recommend further orthodontic treatment if necessary. Some patients may need early treatment and others may wait for all of their adult teeth until they start treatment.
- What is being treated? The amount of time you wear braces depends on the amount of treatment needed to correct the problem. Some patients may only need slight adjustments and may be in treatment for 12 months while others may need more treatment and may take 24 months. Treatment time also depends on each individual. Some patients may respond quickly to treatment and will be in braces less time. Remember, we want a perfect smile and will help determine what is best to obtain it!
- The Patient! Your willingness to use the appliances will greatly affect the length of time it takes to complete treatment. Always take care of your braces and appliances and your treatment time will be shorter!
Orthodontics for Adults
The American Association of Orthodontists states that one in five orthodontic patients are over the age of 21! Many adults are choosing to perfect their smile for both cosmetic and functional purposes. We now understand that not only are straight teeth beautiful, but healthier!
Adults are choosing orthodontic treatment because:
- Teeth are crowded or have extra space
- Tooth decay or periodontal disease due to crowded teeth
- Abnormal jaw pain or discomfort caused by misaligned teeth
- Desire for a healthier mouth and more confident smile
- Teeth do not come together properly
- Worn or missing teeth. When teeth are misaligned they do not come into contact with each other properly and cause wearing.
- Incomplete orthodontic treatment as a teen
Many adults are discouraged by the thought of having big, bulky braces. Today’s orthodontic treatment offers many varieties that are more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
- Invisible braces
- Ceramic braces
There are many benefits to orthodontic treatment as an adult and it is never too late! Teeth that are not aligned properly are very difficult to brush and floss. As adult, this often causes tooth decay and periodontal disease. These conditions continue to get worse over time and do not fix themselves unless the cause of the problem is addressed!
There are some differences in orthodontic treatment as an adult versus as an adolescent. The main difference is that the jawbone in an adult is done growing, which could require orthognathic surgery to align the jawbones. In a child, the jawbones can be manipulated because they are still developing.