Orthodontic treatment - Brace yourself!
Or, shall we say, let us brace you. Whether you are thinking about straightening one or more of your teeth, closing off a noticeable gap between your incisors, or making other aesthetic improvements regarding your teeth and jaw, you might want to consider getting orthodontic treatment. We will tell you more about the area of orthodontics, whom and how it can help in the following.
Within the field of dentistry, orthodontics is a branch that specialises in the treatment of incorrectly positioned teeth, improving not only appearance but oral function as well. An orthodontist is a professional trained to assess and treat the development of the dentition, the growth of the face, as well as the prevention and correction of occlusal anomalies.
So then, what exactly can an orthodontist treat or improve? Even though young children with a cleft lip and palate might require an orthodontist earlier, orthodontic treatment usually starts when the adult set of teeth has developed fully, at about 12 or 13 years of age, or later, when problems arise. When someone’s teeth and jaw develop improperly, the former will end up misaligned. The bottom and top sets of teeth might not line up, either. These are forms of malocclusion, which is essentially a variation in the positioning of teeth. Such issues might take a toll on one’s self-confidence as they may have an impact on the shape of the face or cause aesthetic problems regarding the teeth. Malocclusion can also happen due to injury to the facial bones and teeth, as well as thumb or finger sucking. Severe cases can affect speech and eating, plus, make it harder to properly clean the teeth.
How does the orthodontist diagnose and treat malocclusion? After taking the full medical and dental history of the patient, a clinical examination, as well as x-rays of the teeth and jaw are carried out. Following the initial assessment and making plaster models of the teeth, the orthodontist decides on the necessary treatment plan for issues such as protruding front teeth, asymmetrical, crowded or impacted teeth, an underbite, overbite, reverse bite, open bite or crossbite, as well as gaps between the teeth, called spacing. The treatment of an improper bite, straightening of crooked teeth, aligning the tips of the teeth and closing off wide spaces between teeth are not simple aesthetic boosts: they improve speech and/or chewing ability, together with benefitting long-term oral health and preventing excessive trauma of the teeth. In order to accomplish these goals, the orthodontist works with a number of fixed or removable dental appliances. The first are devices most frequently used in orthodontics, most commonly known as braces, consisting of brackets, wires and bands, allowing precise treatment.
How to prepare for and what to expect during and after receiving orthodontic treatment? Before and during any kind of orthodontic treatment, it is crucial for good oral hygiene to be established and maintained. You can think of your healthy oral cavity as a clean canvas onto which your orthodontist can paint correctly positioned, beautiful teeth. As a patient, or artist’s assistant, your job is to make sure that the mouth, or artwork stays clean throughout the process. This is because there is an increased chance of tooth decay during treatment, especially so if devices are placed on the teeth, providing food particles with nooks and crannies to stick to. Carbonated beverages, chewing gum and foods that have a sticky consistency or high sugar content are also to be avoided. From start to finish, treatment may be done in as little time as several months but, depending on the severity of the issue(s), can also take up to a number of years. Since the length of the treatment varies based on different criteria with every individual case, patients need to trust their orthodontist with the process and be patient throughout.