Orthodontic is a specialty discipline that is focused on correcting malposition of teeth or jaws and will help to improve the aesthetics, function and oral health of the patient.
Orthodontics are not only related to correct but can also prevent further malpositions when treated at the right time.
Orthodontics work with different types of appliances that depending on the patient and correct diagnosis made by the specialized dentist in the subject will define what the best treatment is for each particular case.
Orthodontics refers to the shape and positioning of your teeth and “bite”, the way your jaw sits together when it’s closed. Orthodontics are an important part of dentistry, both as a cosmetic procedure and a functional one.
Everyone will be familiar with some orthodontic appliances such as braces. But orthodontics today covers a wide range of appliances and applications for people of all ages, from the very young to the very young at heart.
When to Get Assessed for Orthodontics
Orthodontic treatments typically require the adult teeth to be present to work properly. The first proper orthodontic assessment should take place around 7-8 years of age.
Even before this, your dentist might want to monitor the growth and development of a child’s jaw at a younger age. It can sometimes be apparent from early one that there will be complications with the development of the teeth and jaw later. Steps can be taken to minimize, if not completely avoid, these complications.
Full orthodontic treatment is generally best carried out when the last milk tooth has fallen out, around 12 years of age. Full orthodontic treatment lasts around two years, but can be more or less depending on the severity of the case and the amount of realignment necessary to achieve proper occlusion.
Adults are also able to get orthodontic treatment. Our teeth and mouths continue to shift and change as we age and grow, so the process of aligning teeth through gentle pressure is effective whether you’re twelve or forty. Many adults are reluctant to get orthodontics, typically due to aesthetics, but today discrete systems such as Invisalign are convincing more and more adults to get treatment.
Types of Orthodontic Appliances
Braces are perhaps the best-known orthodontic appliance on the market. These are made out of a system of wires and brackets; the brackets are bonded to the teeth, and the wires apply pressure, gently moving the teeth into position.
Traditionally the wires and brackets are metal and very noticeable. Ceramic alternatives are available that function identically, but are made of tooth-coloured materials that are much more discrete.
Lingual braces are braces that are fixed to the tongue (or “lingual”) side of the teeth. Again, they function almost the same as traditional braces, but as they’re behind the teeth they’re completely unnoticeable when talking to people.
Aligners are a more recent addition to the orthodontic appliance range. The most well-known system is Invisalign, which replaces wires and brackets with sets of clear plastic aligners. These aligners are custom-made for your mouth and apply gentle pressure to your teeth. Every two or so weeks you swap out for a new set of aligners to continue moving your teeth to the desired position.
Fast braces are designed to work much quicker than traditional braces, but generally only treat the front teeth. Instead of treatment times ranging from 6-24 months, fast braces are designed to work within 6 months to straighten the front teeth for a more cosmetic result.
Benefits of Orthodontics
Orthodontics provide far-reaching benefits to both your oral and overall health.
Appearance: Orthodontics will drastically improve the smile of anybody who needs them. Even something as simple as closing a gap or rotating a few front teeth into a more natural position will provide noticeable results.
Oral hygiene: Crowded teeth are difficult to clean, and susceptible to infection and disease. By spacing the teeth out properly, oral hygiene becomes significantly easier to manage.
Chewing and bite: The ultimate goal of orthodontics is to ensure proper “occlusion”, which describes how the teeth sit together at rest. When teeth are maloccluded it can be difficult to chew properly, which can result in teeth wearing down much faster than normal.
Speech: Poor occlusion will also affect a person’s ability to speak. Insufficient space for the tongue to grow and move can make talking difficult, or at least create problems pronouncing certain letters or sounds.