What Is Orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is a way of straightening or moving teeth, to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work. It can also help to look after the long-term health of the teeth, gums and jaw joints, by spreading the biting pressure over all the teeth.
Why should I have orthodontic treatment?
Many people have crowded or crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment will straighten the teeth or move them into a better position. This can not only improve their appearance but also the way the teeth bite together, while also making them easier to clean.
In some patients, the upper front teeth can stick out and look unsightly. These ‘prominent’ teeth are more likely to be damaged, but orthodontic treatment can move them back into line. In others, the way the upper and lower jaws meet can cause teeth to look unsightly and lead to an incorrect bite. Orthodontic treatment may be able to correct both.
When the teeth don’t meet correctly, this can put strain on the muscles of the jaw, causing jaw and joint problems and in some cases headaches. Orthodontic treatment can help you to bite more evenly and reduce the strain.
Orthodontic care is not just cosmetic in nature. It also can benefit long-term dental health. Straight, properly aligned teeth are easier to brush and floss. This can help reduce the risk of tooth decay. It also can help prevent gingivitis, an inflammation that damages gums. Gingivitis may lead to infection, which occurs when bacteria cluster around the area where the teeth meet the gums. Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. This type of gum disease can destroy bone that surrounds the teeth and lead to tooth loss.
Finally, orthodontic treatment can help to prevent premature wear of back tooth surfaces. As you bite down, your teeth withstand a tremendous amount of force. If your front teeth don’t meet properly, it can cause your back teeth to wear more.
At what age should I have orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is generally best carried out in children, but adults can have orthodontic treatment – and more and more are doing. Age is less important than having the proper number of teeth. In children it may be necessary to wait for enough teeth to come through before starting treatment.
What does it involve?
The most important thing is to have a full examination. This will usually involve looking at your teeth, taking x-rays and making plaster models of your teeth.
Your dentist or orthodontist will then discuss what treatment is possible. Once you are sure you want to go ahead, the treatment can begin as soon as you have enough permanent teeth.
Will I need to have teeth taken out to make space?
You may not have enough room for all your permanent teeth and so it may be necessary to take out some permanent teeth to make space. Your dentist will tell you whether this is the case. Sometimes space can be created using other forms of treatment.
How is the treatment carried out?
Orthodontic treatment can be done by many sorts of appliances, which most people know as ‘braces’.
What are Braces and Retainers?
Everyone has a slightly different bite, so the treatment techniques vary. Braces are the most common approach and help move the teeth slowly by applying precise amounts of light pressure over a long period of time.
Most orthodontic treatments occur in two phases:
- The active phase— Braces or other appliances are used to move the teeth into proper alignment and correct the bite.
- The retention phase — A retainer is used to hold the teeth in their new positions for the long term.
In addition to braces, orthodontists sometimes use special appliances (called functional appliances) to direct the growth of the jaw in young children. These appliances are rarely used in adults. That’s because they are not effective after growth is complete.
What are braces?
When teeth need to be guided more accurately, fixed appliances are used. These appliances have brackets and bands temporarily stuck to the teeth, these are braces.
What are the different types of braces available?
You can choose braces (brackets) made of metal, ceramic or plastic. However, orthodontic treatment is most commonly done using stainless steel brackets.
Ceramic or plastic brackets often are chosen for the sake of appearance. But plastic brackets may stain and discolour by the end of treatment. Bands made of plastic or ceramic also have more friction between the wire and brackets. This can increase treatment time. Your orthodontist will discuss the available options.
Braces work by applying continuous pressure to move teeth in a specific direction. Braces are usually worn for about one to three years, depending on how severe your problem is. As treatment progresses, teeth change position. Your orthodontist will adjust the braces as needed.
What are elastics?
it may be necessary to attach delicate elastic bands to a fixed brace to help move the teeth. Your orthodontist will tell you if you need elastics.
What are invisible braces?
They are tough, clear plastic ‘aligners’ (moulds) that are used to straighten teeth. Several sets of specially moulded, slightly different aligners are made for each patient. Each set is worn for two weeks before being replaced with the next one. They are made from clear plastic, so they are nearly invisible. This means no one needs to know that you are straightening your teeth.
The aligners should be worn for 22 to 23 hours a day for the best results. They can be easily removed for eating, drinking, brushing and flossing. You need to have all your adult teeth before you can have this treatment.
How long will it take?
The length of treatment depends on how severe the problem is, and may take anything from a few months to two-and-a-half years. Most people can be treated in one to two years.
What happens when the teeth are in the right position?
When the treatment is finished the teeth need to be held in position for some time. This period is called retention, and the appliances that hold the teeth in place are called retainers.
The retainers hold the newly straightened teeth in position while the surrounding gum and bone settles. The retainers can be removable or fixed on the original problem.
How many visits will it take?
Orthodontic appliances usually need adjusting every 4 to 6 weeks. Your orthodontist will tell you exactly how often your appliance will need adjusting.
Will it hurt?
All appliances may feel strange to begin with and can cause discomfort. If the problem doesn’t go away the orthodontist may be able to carry out adjustments to help. Teeth are usually uncomfortable immediately after adjustment but this will settle.
How successful will it be?
Success depends on a partnership between the skills of the orthodontist, and the enthusiasm and help of the patient and parents. It is important to attend regularly and carry out any instructions given by the orthodontist.
The success of the treatment also depends on the commitment of the patient. For children’s orthodontic treatment it is very important that the patient is as keen as the parent.
How much does it cost?
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