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.