Orthodontics is a highly-specialized branch of dentistry that deals with facial and jaw irregularities. As proper alignment of the teeth and jaw arches affects coherent speech, chewing and biting abilities, orthodontic treatment is vital for health and comfort.
What Problems Do Orthodontic Treatments Solve?
There is a wide range of orthodontic treatments available to successfully and expediently alter the alignment of teeth. The type of treatment provided depends on the exact nature of the malocclusion or teeth misalignment. Here is a brief overview of the main classifications of bite and teeth positioning problems:
Crowding – The non-eruption of adult teeth and the overcrowding of arch space can lead to misalignment.
Negative Overjet - An underbite is characterized by a pronounced lower jaw, which protrudes further than the upper jaw. This malocclusion causes the chin to look large or pointed.
Excessive Overjet – Overjet is a result of a protruding maxilla (upper jaw) in relation to the mandible (lower jaw). This type of malocclusion can make the chin look like it has receded and give a "buck teeth" look.
Overbite - a slight overbite is desirable and normal. An open bite (where the front teeth do not overlap) or a deep bite (where the lower front teeth are completely covered by the upper teeth) should be corrected
What Does Orthodontic Treatment Involve?
The first step in developing a treatment plan is completion of a thorough visual examination of a patient’s smile. After completing this, diagnostic records which include panoramic and cephalometric x-rays, bite impressions and photos of the face and teeth. If treatment is needed to realign the teeth, this is discussed extensively.
Examining diagnostic records allows for the development of a predictable treatment plan. Once the diagnosis and preparation phases are complete, a fixed or removable orthodontic appliance is used to move the teeth and jaw arches into ideal alignment.
Individual Patient (IP) Orthodontics is an improved version of the standard (straight archwire) orthodontic treatment. Instead of using a “one size fits all” bracket and archwire system like conventional braces do, IP Orthodontics uses customized braces and wires, unique to your anatomy and case goals. IP Orthodontics’ customization leads to faster, more effective treatment and better retention.
The brackets are fixed onto each individual tooth for the duration. Adjustments are made every few weeks until the desired results are achieved. Typically the fixed brackets are removed after 18-30 months.
Removable devices come in many shapes and sizes and are popular because of their convenience and versatility. Removable devices include headgear, which corrects malocclusions due to developmental problems; retainers, which maintain the correct alignment of the teeth after orthodontic treatment; and Invisalign® trays, which are used for several weeks at a time to correct common teeth alignment problems.
The time-span for corrections with removable devices can greatly vary in accordance with the severity of the original malocclusion.
If you have questions about orthodontic care and procedures, please be sure to ask your dental office.