Also referred to as orthodontia, orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, correction, and prevention of malpositioned jaws and teeth. An orthodontist is a specialist who studies an additional two or three years, specializing in orthodontics, during which they master the art of safely moving teeth into a correct alignment, guide facial growth and ensure healthy development in the jaw.
The benefits of orthodontic treatment include an overall healthier mouth, a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime.
When To See an Orthodontist?
Only your orthodontist or dentist can tell for sure whether you can benefit from orthodontics. On the basis of diagnostic tools that include a complete dental and medical history, x-rays, plaster models of your teeth and a clinical exam, a dentist or orthodontist can determine whether orthodontics are recommended, and devise a treatment plan that is ideal for you. However, common instances when seeing an orthodontist is advisable include:
- Misplaced midline
- Open bite
- Spaces between the teeth
How Does Orthodontic Treatment Work?
Numerous kinds of appliances, both removable and fixed, are used to help move the teeth, retrain the muscles and affect the jaws’ growth. These appliances work by putting light pressure on the jaws and teeth. The severity of the problem at hand will determine which orthodontic method is likely to be the most effective. Examples of fixed appliances include:
- Braces – the most common type of fixed appliances that are comprised of wires, brackets and/or bands. Braces are generally adjusted on a monthly basis to bring about the desired results, which may be achieved within just a few months to a few years.
- Special Space Maintainers – These are used to control tongue thrusting or thumb sucking, and are attached by bands to the teeth.
- Fixed Space Maintainers – In case a baby tooth is lost ahead of time, a fixed space maintainer is used to keep the gap open until the permanent tooth comes out. A band is attached to the tooth beside the empty gap, and a wire is stretched to the tooth on the other side of the space.
LIVING WITH BRACES
You now have braces. Congratulations on taking this important step towards improving your dental health as well as your appearance! Living with braces takes some getting used to, but it gets easier with every passing day. In light of this, here is a short guide that will give you a brief yet comprehensive idea of what to do when living with braces.
WHAT TO EAT
The simple trick is to stick with soft foods such as oatmeal, scrambled eggs, deserts, soft bread, dairy products, soft grains, soups, and smoothies. Make sure to also cut your food into small, bite-sized pieces rather than eating big chunks, as it might end up damaging your braces or putting extra pressure on your teeth.
WHAT TO AVOID
Having braces means that you will definitely need to avoid certain foods. You don’t want pieces of meat or chicken getting stuck in your braces, so steer clear of sticky and hard foods as well as foods high in sugar. Sugary and starchy foods can lead to decay and a host of other oral problems. You should consume the following beverages no more than once a day: sweetened tea, soda, Kool-Aid, Gatorade, and other sugary drinks. Foods that should be avoided are the ones that require biting into, such as chicken wings, corn on the cob, and apples.
Also, avoid chewing on foreign objects such as your fingernails, pencils, and pens since that can break or damage your braces.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR BRACES
Regardless of the type of braces you have, it can get a little difficult to brush and floss. For this reason, use an interdental toothbrush to clean your braces and teeth. In addition to that, floss with an orthodontic floss or floss threader with a built-in tongue threader to help thread the floss beneath the main wire. To top it off, use a mouthwash to help get rid of any remaining tidbits, and also to minimize chances of infection and irradiation.
In addition to brushing your teeth, brush your braces as well. Carry a cleaning kit with you comprising of a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, and wax. If you play sports, wear a mouthguard to protect your braces and teeth. Lastly, check your braces for loose or bent brackets and wires regularly.