Orthodontics and Braces
Dental Braces & Teeth Orthodontics Braces Treatment
Orthodontics, formally Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is the first specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusion (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both. Orthodontic treatment can focus on dental displacement only, or can deal with the control and modification of facial growth.
Orthodontics is the study of dentistry that is concerned with the treatment of improper bites, and crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment can help fix the patient’s teeth and set them in the right place. Orthodontists usually use braces and retainers to set the patient’s teeth. There are, however, orthodontists who work on reconstructing the entire face rather than focusing exclusively on teeth. After a course of active orthodontic treatment, patients will typically wear retainers, which maintain the teeth in their improved positions while surrounding bone reforms around them. The retainers are generally worn full-time for a period, anywhere from just a few days to a year, then part-time (typically, nightly during sleep) for as long as the orthodontist recommends. It is possible for the teeth to stay aligned without regular retainer wear. However, there are many reasons teeth will crowd as a person ages, whether or not the individual ever experienced orthodontic treatment; thus there is no guarantee that teeth will stay aligned without retention. For this reason, many orthodontists prescribe night-time or part-time retainer wear for many years after orthodontic treatment (potentially for life). Adult orthodontic patients are more likely to need lifetime retention.
Braces for Children
Many children are ambivalent about getting braces. On one hand, they like the idea of perfect teeth, but on the other hand, they are nervous about whether the braces will cause pain and discomfort. The good news is that the placement of orthodontic braces is not at all painful, and the end result will be a beautiful straight smile.
Although patients of any age can benefit from orthodontic braces, they tend to work much quicker on pre-teens and teenagers since they are still experiencing jaw growth. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children should first see an orthodontist around the age of seven years-old. An orthodontic examination may be beneficial before age seven if facial or oral irregularities are noted.
What causes misalignment of teeth?
Poorly aligned teeth often cause problems speaking, biting and chewing. Most irregularities are genetic or occur as a result of developmental issues. Conversely, some irregularities are acquired or greatly exacerbated by certain habits and behaviors such as:
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Prolonged pacifier use
- Poor oral hygiene
- Poor nutrition
What's involved when a child gets braces?
The orthodontist initially conducts a visual examination of the child’s teeth. This will be accompanied by panoramic X-rays, study models (bite impressions), and computer generated images of the head and neck. These preliminary assessments are sometimes known as the “planning phase” because they aid the orthodontist in making a diagnosis and planning the most effective treatment.
In many cases, the orthodontist will recommend “fixed” orthodontic braces for a child. Fixed braces cannot be lost, forgotten or removed at will, which means that treatment is completed more quickly. Removable appliances may also be utilized, which are less intrusive and are generally used to treat various types of defects.
Here is a brief overview of some of the main types of orthodontic appliances used on children:
- Fixed braces – Braces are comprised of brackets that are affixed to each individual tooth and an archwire that connects the brackets. The brackets are usually made of metal, ceramic, or a clear synthetic material which is less noticeable to the naked eye. After braces have been applied, the child will have regular appointments to have the braces adjusted by the orthodontist. Orthodontic elastic bands are often added to the braces to aid in the movement of specific teeth.
- Headgear – This type of appliance is most useful to treat developmental irregularities. A headgear is a custom-made appliance attached to wire that aids in tooth movement. A headgear is intended to be worn for 12-20 hours each day and must be worn as recommended to achieve the intended result.
- Retainers – Retainers are typically utilized in the third phase (retention phase). When the original malocclusion has been treated with braces, it is essential that the teeth do not regress back to the original misalignment. Wearing a retainer ensures that teeth maintain their proper alignment and gives the jawbone around the teeth a chance to stabilize.
More to Explore: Related Orthodontic Articles
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