Orthodontics is a type of dentistry which deals with correcting teeth and jaw bones which are not in correct alignment caused by one or more of the following:
A bad bite
Extra or missing teeth
Teeth or jaw which is misaligned or crooked
An overbite or underbite
Jaw joint disorders
These types of irregularities are in most cases treated with braces. Braces are usually made up in different forms from wires and springs attached to tiny metal plates or a plastic mould. They work by gently applying pressure to the teeth which encourages them to move slowly into their correct position. Orthodontic results are generally better and much quicker to achieve with children as their teeth are still growing; this does not mean adults cannot have successful orthodontic treatments, just that the process may take a little longer.
What causes teeth and jaws to be crooked or misaligned?
A bad bite may occur genetically or as a result of the following conditions:
Trauma — fractured teeth or teeth which have been knocked out.
Prolonged thumb-sucking or dummy sucking — this can cause the front teeth to stick out excessively over the lower teeth.
Tongue-thrusting while swallowing
Premature loss of baby teeth —
Early loss of baby teeth which can cause adult teeth to appear incorrectly, leading to crowded or teeth only partially erupting.
Why is it essential to have orthodontic treatment?
Teeth which are correctly aligned are much easier to look after.
Chewing and digestion are both improved
The risk of tooth decay is reduced.
Speech is improved
From what age can you start orthodontic treatment?
By the age of 7, many of the permanent teeth will have erupted, and an assessment can be carried out to see if orthodontic treatment will be needed. You do not need to wait until all the permanent teeth erupt before treatment can begin. During the teenage years, all permanent teeth should have erupted, and this will be the most effective age to start orthodontics.
What does orthodontic treatment involve?
There are two stages in orthodontic treatments.
Active phase — This is the part of the treatment when the braces will be attached to the teeth gently moving them into the correct position.
Retention phase — Once the teeth have been moved into their proper position, they will be held in place using retainers to ensure long-term results.