Orthodontic dentistry involves aligning the teeth to improve jaw movement and enhance a person’s smile in an aesthetic manner. People with crooked and misaligned teeth may experience pain, discomfort and problems when it comes to chewing, swallowing and even sleeping. Misaligned teeth can lead to a host of medical problems including tooth decay, periodontal disease and gum infections. There are many orthodontic devices and treatment options to help correct misaligned teeth and a crooked jaw.
In kids, did you know that bite problems often manifest once an individual reaches the age of seven? First Dental’s website says these dental concerns include cross-bite, underbite, excessive overbite, or teeth crowding. It’s important to start early because bit problems require slowly shifting the teeth around.
Here are some of the most common procedures in orthodontic dentistry to be aware of:
Before you get to the braces phase of the treatment process, you may need to undergo some preliminary procedures. Some people will need to visit an oral surgeon to have teeth extracted before they can have braces applied. If overcrowding is an issue, some people will need to have dental implants or appliances temporarily or permanently placed in conjunction with braces. Dental appliances and implants work to expand the jaw to begin properly aligning the teeth.
When it comes to the application of braces, consumers have more options than ever before. Braces and wires of the past were constructed of stainless steel; both are visibly noticeable and can be uncomfortable for the wearer. Steel braces are the most affordable options, but they are not the most durable. Wires often break during the course of treatment and can cause tears and bleeding to the gums and surrounding teeth when broken. Nickel and copper-titanium wires have risen as a more viable and durable option. Natural body heat aids these types of wires in applying pressure to both the brackets and the teeth to encourage proper alignment. These metals are also more comfortable during treatment for the patient, and they break much less often than steel braces.
Many patients needing braces can also opt for ceramic braces which tend to look more natural in the mouth. Ceramic braces offer a tonal look that blends in with the natural color of the teeth. Lingual braces are another option for patients. Lingual braces are applied to the back of the teeth, but they are not an option for all patients. Invisible braces are another viable option for patients. All options have drawbacks, so it is best to have a candid discussion with your orthodontist to determine the treatment option that will best suit your needs, expectations and financial budget.
After the braces portion of the treatment has been completed, you will likely need to wear an appliance, aligner or retainer each night to prevent the teeth from shifting. Teeth have muscle memory and will want to move back into their natural position, so wearing a retainer at night will keep them in their new position and minimize the need for additional orthodontic treatment.
To maintain your results, you should follow your orthodontist’s advice and adhere to a strict home care routine. Regularly brushing, flossing and rinsing will help keep food and bacteria from getting stuck in your braces and potentially causing decay. If you play any recreational sports, your orthodontist may also fit you for a custom mouthguard to wear. It is important to wear the mouthguard each time you engage in sports to prevent a facial injury that may cause you to have to undergo additional orthodontic treatments.