No doubt you’ve heard the word 'orthodontics', but what does it mean, and how can orthodontics help you? Today, our Collingwood dentists explain the basics about this field of dentistry.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialty within the field of dentistry that focuses on treating irregularities of the teeth and jaws involving improper positioning, occlusion and alignment.
Overcrowded or crooked teeth, jaw misalignments, overbites or underbites can all lead to oral health issues and serious problems with speech, eating and quality of life issues.
In these cases, dentists will recommend orthodontic treatment to gradually reposition teeth so they are straighter, leaving the patient with a more symmetrical smile.
Whether orthodontic issues crop up because of genetic or hereditary factors, or because of bad habits or injuries, it’s important to treat them as soon as possible.
Resolving issues with a “bad bite”, gaps between teeth or a misaligned jaw can reduce a patient’s oral health risks, as well as improve the overall appearance and function of their teeth and bite, often leading to improved self-confidence.
What are some common orthodontic treatments?
Depending on your orthodontic issue, your dentist or orthodontist may recommend one or more of the following orthodontic treatments to help correct it:
- Orthodontic braces
- Head gear
- Clear aligners
- Removable appliances
- Oral surgery
To achieve the best possible results, each of these treatment methods requires care and maintenance from the patient and the dentist or orthodontist.
What are the benefits of orthodontic treatments?
People of any age can benefit from orthodontic treatment. If your teeth are positioned improperly or misaligned, you face an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
These issues can also make your teeth more difficult to floss, possibly leading to poor oral hygiene as you get older – which can negatively affect your oral health and your overall health.
Effective orthodontic treatments can improve the look and function of your smile in a number of ways:
- Fix improper bites
- Improve oral function (including speech and eating)
- Straighten crooked teeth
- Properly align your teeth and jaw
- Close gaps between teeth
- Ensure crowded teeth are appropriately spaced
How do I know if I could benefit from orthodontic treatment?
If your jaw is misaligned or you have crowded, crooked, protruding or missing teeth, you may notice some difficulty with eating, chewing foods or speaking clearly. Some patients also experience pain or muscle tension, or painful symptoms in their jaw if the problem is related to TMJ Disorder in the temporomandibular joint .
Your dentist may also review your dental history, or mention issues with your bite or jaw during a regular oral examination, and recommend orthodontics as a way of improving your oral health.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Each patient is unique. Your dentist will estimate the duration of your treatment based on your specific case. The severity of your orthodontic issue, your age, the treatment method used, and other factors, will influence how long your treatment will take.
Adults typically take longer to treat than teens or children. You can expect to visit your orthodontist or dentist for a period of months or years as your teeth are slowly guided to their corrected positions. Most people will wear orthodontic braces for about 2 years to achieve optimal results.
You’ll receive specific instructions from your dentist to help you achieve the intended results from your treatment.