Orthodontics is a field of dentistry that deals with correcting improperly positioned teeth and jaws. When teeth are misaligned they’re harder to clean, increasing the risk of tooth loss due to erosion and decay. Furthermore, such teeth can stress the chewing muscles, leading to issues such as jaw and neck pain. Crooked teeth, to the individual, can also detract from a person’s appearance, leading to reduced self-confidence.
Specialist dentists who focus on providing orthodontic treatment are called orthodontists. They’re the professionals who can advise on whether an individual needs orthodontics or not. Based on their diagnosis of a patient, they can decide which form of orthodontics to use and come up with a treatment plan to address the problem. Jonathan Alexander Abt, a registered orthodontics specialist, is one of many professionals who have prescribed orthodontics treatment to individuals.
Some of the dental issues that orthodontics treatments address include:
- Overbite – where the front upper teeth protrude over the lower teeth
- Crossbite – where the upper and lower teeth are not aligned when biting together
- Underbite – the opposite of overbite, where the upper teeth are behind the lower teeth
- Crowding – where too many teeth are present than can be accommodated
In many cases, these conditions can cause the abnormal development of the jaw and teeth, thereby affecting the shape of the face. The benefits of orthodontic treatment include correction of the bite and straightening of the teeth, reducing the odds of damaging teeth and improving an individual’s smile.
How Does Treatment Work?
There are different types of orthodontic appliances that are used to treat cases. Orthodontics treatment remedies can be put into two main categories:
- Preventative Orthodontics: This category focuses on eliminating factors, which if left unaddressed, can make the pre-existing condition much worse. An example would be maintaining space due to premature teeth loss, which commonly affects the molars and canines. Preventive action to keep the space can be taken if a tooth is not expected to erupt for another six months. Preventive orthodontics can also be taken to reduce habits such as finger suckling in children that can lead to dental issues.
- Corrective Orthodontics: As the name implies, this category focuses on correcting orthodontic problems, such as those mentioned above (overbite, spacing, crowding). Corrections are made using orthodontic appliances, with severe cases calling for tooth extraction if necessary (for example, in cases of severe overcrowding).
Over time, orthodontics patients have become more specific in their expectations from treatment. Increasingly, patients have the aesthetic factor in mind when considering treatment, and in response, the dental industry has developed more aesthetically pleasing alternatives to the conventional metal brackets. It’s common to see the use of ceramic brackets that have opaque or transparent elastic ties. Lingual braces are also in use, but these require careful placement by a very skilled orthodontist.
The orthodontic treatment plan recommended to a patient needs to consider two main aspects: the aim (what do you want to accomplish?) and the plan (how will it be performed?). While it might be easy to figure out the aim of treatment (to correct an overbite, for example), the plan must consider several aspects crucial to overall improvement. Oral hygiene is one of these aspects. While the use of various orthodontic appliances does not cause dental caries, they increase the chances of plaque accumulation. Proper oral health must be maintained throughout the process.
Once corrective action is taken and braces are removed, patients move into the retention stage of treatment. The gingival fibres of the teeth tend to pull them back towards their original positions, which is why retainers are employed to keep this from happening. Retainers can be fixed and removable, with patients urged to cooperate fully to see the best results of the treatment.