It's more than jus straight teeth.

orthodontics create confidence. 

What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?

The benefits of orthodontic treatment often go beyond the obvious physical changes of an improved bite and straighter teeth; it’s also a great way to improve a person’s overall self-image. While having beautiful straight teeth is important, even more important is the need to alleviate any potential health problems associated with the teeth or jaw.

 

Crooked teeth or jaw problems may contribute to improper cleaning of teeth, leading to tooth decay and, possibly, gum disease or total tooth loss. Orthodontic problems that go untreated can lead to chewing and digestion difficulties, speech impairments, and abnormal wear of tooth surfaces. Over time, excessive strain on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth can affect the jaw joints leading to problems such as headaches or face and neck pain.

Common reasons for orthodontic treatment in adults and children:

  • Breathing or swallowing problems – Mouth breathing can lead to snoring and sleep apnea.

  • Crossbite – One or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth (towards the tongue).

  • Crowding – Involving extra teeth or malpositioned teeth.

  • Deep Overbite – The lower front teeth bite into the upper tissue of the upper teeth.

  • Disfiguring of the face & mouth – Affects the development of the jaw and position of the teeth.

  • Jaw & jaw joint pain

  • Missing or extra teeth – Due to tooth decay, injuries, or inherited problems.

  • Overjet (protruding upper teeth) – Upper teeth that protrude beyond normal and are usually associated with a short lower jaw.

  • Self-image – An attractive smile can boost a person’s self-image and confidence.

  • Spacing between teeth – Teeth are missing or may be too small or too large.

  • Speech, chewing or biting problems

  • Underbite (lower jaw protrusion) – Lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.

Specific to children: 

  • Finger or thumb sucking – These habits can cause protrusion of the upper incisor teeth, and mouth breathing.

  • Teeth erupting out of position – Can be guided to proper alignment.

Female doctor holding two transparent he

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is one of many dental specialties.  The word “orthodontics” is derived from the Greek words orthos, meaning proper or straight and odons meaning teeth.  Orthodontics is specifically concerned with diagnosing and treating tooth misalignment and irregularity in the jaw area.  Initially, orthodontic treatments were geared toward the treatment of teens and pre-teens, but these days around 30 percent of orthodontic patients are adults.

There are many advantages to well-aligned teeth, including easier cleaning, better oral hygiene, clearer speech and a more pleasant smile.  Though orthodontic treatment can be effective at any age, the American Dental Association suggests that an orthodontic assessment should be performed around the age of seven.  The earlier orthodontic treatment begins, the more quickly the problem can be successfully resolved.

What problems can be treated with orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a versatile branch of dentistry that can be used alone, or in combination with maxillofacial or cosmetic dentistry.

Here are some of the common conditions treated with orthodontics:

  • Anteroposterior deviations – The discrepancy between a pair of closed jaws is known as an anteroposterior discrepancy or deviation.  An example of such a discrepancy would be an overbite (where the upper teeth are further forward than the lower teeth), or an underbite (where the lower teeth are further forward then the upper teeth).

  • Overcrowding – Overcrowding is a common orthodontic problem.  It occurs when there is an insufficient space for the normal growth and development of adult teeth.

  • Aesthetic problems – A beautiful straight smile may be marred by a single misaligned tooth. This tooth can be realigned with ease and accuracy by the orthodontist.  Alternatively, orthodontists can also work to reshape and restructure the lips, jaw or the face.

Orthodontic solutions

Orthodontics is a technologically advanced field which offers many sophisticated solutions to malocclusions and other cosmetic problems.  The orthodontist will generally perform a visual examination, panoramic X-rays, and study models (bite impressions) in order to assess the exact nature of the discrepancy.

When a diagnosis has been made, there are a variety of orthodontic treatment options available.

Here is an overview of some of the most common treatments:

  • Fixed orthodontic braces – A metal or ceramic dental base is affixed to each tooth, and a dental wire is inserted through each base.  The orthodontist is able to gradually train the teeth into proper alignment by regularly adjusting the wire.  When the desired results are achieved, the fixed dental braces are completely removed.

  • Removable appliances – There are a wide range of removable appliances commonly used in orthodontics, including headgear that correct overbites, Hawley retainers that improve the position of the teeth even as the jawbone reforms, and facemasks which are used to correct an underbite.

  • Invisalign® – This is a newer, removable type of dental aligner that is completely transparent.  Invisalign® does not interfere with eating because of its removable nature, and mechanically works in the same way as the traditional metal dental braces.  Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

If you have any questions or concerns about orthodontics, please contact our office.

 
 

Who can benefit from orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry that is concerned with diagnosing, treating and preventing malocclusions (bad bites) and other irregularities in the jaw region and face.  Orthodontists are specially trained to correct these problems and to restore health, functionality and a beautiful aesthetic appearance to the smile.  Though orthodontics was originally aimed at treating children and teenagers, almost one third of orthodontic patients are now adults.  A person of any age can be successfully treated by an orthodontist.

A malocclusion (improper bite) can affect anyone at any age, and can significantly impact the individual’s clarity of speech, chewing ability and facial symmetry.  In addition, a severe malocclusion can also contribute to several serious dental and physical conditions such as digestive difficulties, TMJ, periodontal disease and severe tooth decay.  It is important to seek orthodontic treatment early to avoid expensive restorative procedures in the future.

What problems can orthodontics treat?

Orthodontics can treat a wide range of dental problems and in most cases, completely realign the teeth.  Orthodontists may work alone, or in combination with a maxillofacial surgeon.

The typical irregularities requiring orthodontic treatment are as follows:

  • Overcrowding – An overcrowded mouth means there is insufficient space within the jaw for all of the adult teeth to fit naturally.  Overcrowding may lead to displaced, rotated or completely misaligned teeth.

  • Overbite – An overbite refers to the protrusion of the maxilla (upper jaw) relative to the mandible (lower jaw).  An overbite gives the smile a “toothy” appearance and the chin looks like it has receded.

  • Underbite – An underbite, also known as a negative underjet, refers to the protrusion of the mandible (lower jaw) in relation to the maxilla (upper jaw).  An underbite makes the chin look overly prominent. Developmental delays and genetic factors generally cause underbites and overbites.

  • Periodontitis – Periodontitis or gum disease begins with a bacterial infection.  The bacterial infection is caused by inadequate oral hygiene.  Crooked teeth are hard to clean effectively, which means that debris, plaque and bacteria can build up in hard-to-reach areas.  Straight teeth are much easier to clean and are at less risk of contracting gum disease.

  • Temporomandibular Disorder (TMJ) – Crooked teeth can lead to improper jaw alignment, which in turn causes a painful condition known as TMJ.  Severe headaches, jaw pain, lockjaw and the grinding of teeth characterize this debilitating disorder.

  • Tooth injury – Straight teeth creates a strong wall, which means injuries are less likely to occur.  Crooked teeth are weaker and often protrude, making them far more vulnerable to external injury.

  • Uneven wear – Crooked teeth cause some of the teeth to work harder than others when biting and chewing.  Straight teeth share the workload evenly, meaning less risk of injury and better aesthetics.

 

How can orthodontics help?

Orthodontic dentistry offers techniques which will realign the teeth and revitalize the smile.  There are several treatments the orthodontist may use, depending on the results of panoramic X-rays, study models (bite impressions), and a thorough visual examination. 

 

Teeth can be straightened using either orthodontic braces or customized aligning trays.  Orthodontic braces are usually affixed to the teeth for a set duration.  The brackets and archwires are tightened regularly by the orthodontist and removed when treatment is complete.  Fixed braces can be placed on the front side or back side of the teeth and are effective for most types of malocclusion. Fixed dental braces can be used to expediently correct even the most severe case of misalignment.  These braces consist of metal or ceramic brackets which are affixed to each tooth and an archwire which is used to gradually move the teeth through the duration of the treatment.

Aligning trays are fully removable and are used where the malocclusion is less severe, and the teeth need to move a shorter distance.  These trays are replaced every few weeks for the duration of the treatment, and have proven to be equally effective for straightening teeth.

 

Removable appliances include headgear (which consists of a metal wire device attached to customized braces), retainers, Invisalign® aligners (which are almost invisible to the naked eye), palate expanders and tooth movers.  Faceguards are generally used to correct developmental delays in both the upper and lower jaw, and palate expanders are used to combat overcrowding.

Whatever the dental irregularity or the age of the individual, orthodontic appliances can properly realign the teeth and create a beautiful smile.

If you have any questions or concerns about orthodontic treatments or how they can benefit you, please contact our office.

What is a malocclusion?

A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship between the maxilla (upper arch) and the mandible (lower arch), or a general misalignment of the teeth.  Malocclusions are so common that most individuals experience one, to some degree.  The poor alignment of the teeth is thought to be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, or other factors in the early years.

Moderate malocclusion commonly requires treatment by an orthodontist.  Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in the treatment of malocclusions and other facial irregularities.

The following are three main classifications of malocclusion:

  • Class I – The occlusion is typical, but there are spacing or overcrowding problems with the other teeth.

  • Class II – The malocclusion is an overbite (the upper teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth).  This can be caused by the protrusion of anterior teeth or the overlapping of the central teeth by the lateral teeth.

  • Class III – Prognathism (also known as “underbite”) is a malocclusion caused by the lower teeth being positioned further forward than the upper teeth.  An underbite usually occurs when the jawbone is large or the maxillary bone is short.

Reasons for treating a malocclusion

A severe malocclusion may lead to skeletal disharmony of the lower face.  In a more extreme case, the orthodontist may work in combination with a maxillofacial dentist to reconstruct the jaw.  It is never too late to seek treatment for a malocclusion.  Children and adults alike have completed orthodontic realignment procedures and have been delighted with the resulting even, straight smile.

Here are some of the main reasons to seek orthodontic treatment for a malocclusion:

  • Reduced risk of tooth decay – A malocclusion often causes an uneven wear pattern on the teeth.  The constant wearing of the same teeth can lead to tooth erosion and decay.

  • Better oral hygiene – A malocclusion can be caused by overcrowding.  When too many teeth are competing for too little space, it can be difficult to clean the teeth and gums effectively.  It is much easier to clean straight teeth that are properly aligned.

  • Reduced risk of TMJ – Temporomandibular jaw syndrome (TMJ) is thought to be caused by a malocclusion.  Headaches, facial pains and grinding teeth during sleep all result from the excessive pressure to the temporomandibular joint.  Realigning the teeth reduces pressure, and eliminates these symptoms.

How is a malocclusion treated?

A malocclusion is usually treated with dental braces.  The orthodontist takes panoramic X-rays, conducts visual examinations, and takes bite impressions of the whole mouth before deciding on the best course of treatment.  If a malocclusion is obviously caused by overcrowding, the orthodontist may decide an extraction is the only way to create enough space for the realignment.  However, in the case of an underbite, crossbite or overbite, there are several different orthodontic appliances available, such as:

  • Fixed multibracket braces – This type of dental braces consists of brackets cemented to each tooth, and an archwire that connects each one.  The orthodontist adjusts or changes the wire on a regular basis to train the teeth into proper alignment.

  • Removable devices – There are many non-fixed dental braces available to treat a malocclusion.  Retainers, headgear and palate expanders are amongst the most common.  Retainers are generally used to hold the teeth in the correct position while the jawbone grows properly around them.

  • Invisalign® – These dental aligners are removable and invisible to the naked eye.  Invisalign® works similarly to fixed dental braces but does not impact the aesthetics of the smile.

 

 

Orthodontic Treatment (Braces)

The benefits of orthodontic treatment often go beyond the obvious physical changes of an improved bite and straighter teeth; it’s also a great way to improve a person’s overall self-image.   While having beautiful straight teeth is important, even more important is the need to alleviate any potential health problems associated with the teeth or jaw.  Crooked teeth or jaw problems may contribute to improper cleaning of teeth, leading to tooth decay and, possibly, gum disease or total tooth loss.  Orthodontic problems that go untreated can lead to chewing and digestion difficulties, speech impairments, and abnormal wear of tooth surfaces.  Over time, excessive strain on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth can affect the jaw joints leading to problems such as headaches or face and neck pain.

 

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children get an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7.  Though orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, timely treatment ensures maximum dental health.

With all of the recent advancements in orthodontics, wearing braces has never been easier.  State-of-the-art appliances and treatments are now available, from traditional metal braces, to clear and tooth colored brackets, to NASA type wires that are heat activated and require fewer adjustments!  Some patients may even be candidates for treatment with Invisalign, a revolutionary way to straighten teeth using clear, retainer type aligners that require no braces or wires!

If treatment is necessary, we will thoroughly discuss which treatment option is best suited for you!

Braces for Adults

Orthodontic braces were historically associated with teenagers.  Today, an increasing number of adults are choosing to wear braces to straighten their teeth and correct malocclusions (bad bites).  In fact, it is now estimated that almost one third of all current orthodontic patients are adults.

Orthodontic braces are predictable, versatile, and incredibly successful at realigning the teeth.  Braces work in the same way regardless of the age of the patient, but the treatment time is greatly reduced in patients who are still experiencing jaw growth and have not been affected by gum disease.  In short, an adult can experience the same beautiful end results as a teenager, but treatment often takes longer.

Can adults benefit from orthodontic braces?

Absolutely! Crooked or misaligned teeth look unsightly, which can cause a low self-esteem and a lack of self confidence.   Aside from poor aesthetics, improperly aligned teeth can also cause difficulties biting, chewing, and articulating clearly.  Generally speaking, orthodontists agree that straight teeth tend to be healthier teeth.

Straight teeth offer a multitude of health and dental benefits including:

  • Reduction in general tooth decay

  • Decreased likelihood of developing periodontal disease

  • Decreased likelihood of tooth injury

  • Reduction in digestive disorders

Fortunately, orthodontic braces have been adapted and modified to make them more convenient for adults.  There are now a wide range of fixed and removable orthodontic devices available, depending on the precise classification of the malocclusion.

The most common types of malocclusion are underbite (lower teeth protrude further than upper teeth), overbite (upper teeth protrude further than lower teeth), and overcrowding where there is insufficient space on the arches to accommodate the full complement of adult teeth.

Prior to recommending specific orthodontic treatment, the orthodontist will recommend treatment of any pre-existing dental conditions such as gum disease, excess plaque, and tooth decay.  Orthodontic braces can greatly exacerbate any or all of these conditions.

What are the main types of orthodontic braces?

  • Traditional braces – These braces are strong and tend not to stain the teeth.  They are comprised of individual brackets which are cemented to each tooth and accompanied by an archwire which constantly asserts gentle pressure on the teeth.  Traditional braces are generally metal but are also available in a clear synthetic material and “tooth colored” ceramic.  The ceramic brackets are usually more comfortable than the metal alternative, but can become discolored by coffee, wine, smoking, and certain foods.

  • Invisalign® – Invisalign® aligners are clear trays and should be worn for the recommended amount of time each day for the quickest results.  Invisalign® aligners are clear trays, and should be worn for the recommended amount of time each day for the quickest results.  Invisalign® aligners are more comfortable and less obtrusive than traditional braces but also tend to be more costly.  Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

  • Lingual braces – These appliances are usually metal and fixed on the tongue side of the teeth, therefore cannot be seen when a patient smiles.  Lingual braces tend to be moderately expensive and can interfere with normal speech.

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.

 
 
 

Do Braces Hurt?

One of the most commonly asked questions about dental braces is whether placing them causes any pain or discomfort.  The honest answer is that braces do not hurt at all when they are applied to the teeth, so there is no reason to be anxious.  In most cases, there is mild soreness or discomfort after the orthodontic wire is engaged into the brackets, which may last for a few days.

There are two common types of fixed dental braces used to realign the teeth: ceramic fixed braces and metal fixed braces.  Both types of fixed appliances include brackets which are affixed to each individual tooth and an archwire the orthodontist fits into the bracket slot to gently move the teeth into proper alignment.  Elastic or wire ties will be applied to hold the wire in place.  Some orthodontists may use self-ligating brackets which do not require a rubber or wire tie to secure the wire.

Fixed dental braces are used to treat a wide variety of malocclusions, including overbite, underbite, crossbite, and overcrowding.  If the orthodontist has determined that the malocclusion has been caused by overcrowding, it is possible that teeth may need to be extracted to increase the amount of available space to properly align the teeth.

What to expect when getting braces:

  • Placement day – The placement of braces will not be painful in the slightest.  It may take longer to eat meals, but this is largely because it takes some time to adjust to wearing the braces.  In some cases, the teeth may feel more sensitive than usual.  Hard, difficult to chew foods should be avoided in favor of a softer, more liquid-based diet for the first few days after placement of braces.

  • Two days after placement – The first several days after placement of braces can be slightly uncomfortable.  This is because the teeth are beginning the realignment process and are not used to the pressure of the archwire and orthodontic elastic bands.  The orthodontist will provide relief wax to apply over the braces as necessary.  Wax helps provide a smooth surface and alleviates irritation on the inner cheeks and lips.  Additionally, over-the-counter pain medication (e.g., Motrin® and Advil®) may be taken as directed to relieve mild soreness.

  • Five days after placement – After five days, any initial discomfort associated with the braces should be completely gone.  The teeth will have gradually acclimated to the braces, and eating should be much easier.  Certain hard foods may still pose a challenge to the wearer, but normal eating may be resumed at this point.

  • Orthodontic appointments – Regular orthodontic appointments are necessary to allow the orthodontist to change the archwire, change the rubber or metal ties, and make adjustments to the braces.  Fixed braces work by gradually moving the teeth into a new and proper alignment, so gentle pressure needs to be applied constantly.  The first several days after an orthodontic adjustment may be slightly uncomfortable, but remember that this discomfort will quickly fade.

  • Dealing with discomfort – Over-the-counter pain medication and orthodontic relief wax will help alleviate any mild soreness and discomfort following placement of braces and orthodontic adjustments.  Another effective remedy is to chew sugar-free gum, as this increases blood flow which helps reduces discomfort and can also encourage the teeth to align quicker.