Orthodontics is the speciality dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Teeth that are overcrowded or do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean and therefore they are more prone to decay and gum disease. The extra stress on the misaligned teeth can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain. Teeth that are not in the right place can also detract from one’s appearance.
The benefits of orthodontic treatment include a healthier mouth, a more pleasing appearance and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime.
A specialist in this field is called an Orthodontist and they receive many more years of extra training beyond dental school.
How do I know if I need Orthodontics?
Only your Dentist or Orthodontist can determine whether you can benefit from treatment. A thorough consultation would be required including a full medical and dental history, clinical examination and special x-rays and photographs.
How do Orthodontic treatments work?
Many different types of appliances, both fixed and removable are used to help move teeth. These appliances work by placing gentle pressure on the teeth to encourage them to move in a particular direction. The severity of your problem will determine which orthodontic approach will be the most effective.
Fixed appliances include:
- Fixed Braces – For the most common fixed appliances the braces consist of brackets, bands and wires. Bands are fixed around the teeth or tooth and used as anchors for the appliance and brackets are often bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires are passed through the brackets attached to the bands. Tightening the arch wire puts tension on the teeth gradually moving them to there proper position. Braces are usually adjusted monthly to achieve the desired result and may take from a few months to a few years. Braces today are lighter and show less metal than in the past. They come in bright colours for children and clear styles for adults.
- Special fixed appliances – Used to control thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, these appliances are attached to the teeth by bands. Because they are very uncomfortable during mealtimes they should only be used as a last resort.
- Fixed space maintainers – If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer will keep the space open until the permanent tooth erupts. A band is attached to the tooth next to the empty space and a wire is extended to the tooth on the other side of the space.
Removable appliances include:
- Aligners – An alternative to traditional braces for adults, serial aligners are increasingly being used by orthodontists to move teeth the same way that fixed appliances would but without the metal wires and brackets. Aligners are virtually invisible and are removable during eating, brushing and flossing.
- Removable space maintainers – These devices serve the same function as fixed space maintainers. They are made with an acrylic base that fits over the jaw and have plastic branches between specific teeth to keep the space between them open.
- Removable retainers – Worn on the roof of the mouth, these devices prevent teeth drifting back to their original position.
- Headgear – With this device, a strap is placed around the back of the head and attached to it is a metal wire in front, or face bow. Headgear slows the growth of the upper jaw.
**Smiles Better also provide Inman Alligners which may be an option for your child if they have permanent dentition. Please see Orthodontics under Cosmetic treatments for more details **