Orthodontics and Orofacial orthopedics is a branch of dentistry known as Orthodontia which primarily deals with the diagnosis, prevention and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws.
Orthodontic treatment focuses on dental displacements such as teeth that are crooked, crowded or sticking out, and modification of facial growth.
If you are not happy with the way your teeth looks or works, orthodontic treatment can help.
The position of your jaws and teeth has an effect on your bite. A bite depends on how your upper and lower teeth comes together. When your upper and lower teeth do not fit together or align well, this is called a malocclusion or a bad bite.
If you have any of the following malocclusions, you need orthodontic treatment:
Orthodontic treatments are mainly of two types: the first is to correct bad bite for kids and the second is fixed orthodontics.
1. Orthodontics for Kids: (Below the age of 12 years)
Orthodontic issues often begin at a young age, and if left untreated can cause severe dental issues later in life. Orthodontic treatments for kids can begin as early as age 6. when the permanent tooth starts erupting. This allows the orthodontist to evaluate the child’s front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationship. An early examination of teeth provides a timely detection of problems along with a greater opportunity for more effective treatment.
Defects can be with the upper jaw bone (Maxilla), lower jaw bone (Mandible) or with both the jaws. In cases where the growth of the maxilla is access, to control the growth; appliances like Headgear can be used. In cases where the growth of the maxilla is less, to facilitate normal growth appliances like Frankel III, Hyrax, Expansion Screw, Face Mask etc can be used.
In cases where the growth of the Mandible is excess, appliances like Chin Cap or sometimes Frankel III can be used. In cases where the growth of the Mandible is less, to promote the growth appliances such as Frankel III, Twin Block, Activator, Bionator etc can be used. And in cases where both the maxilla and mandible are affected, a combination of the above appliances is used. i.e. Activator with Headgear, Bionator with Headgear, Twin Block with Headgear etc.
Some children lose teeth early due to tooth decay much before the permanent teeth are erupted. In that cases, space maintainers are used to maintain the space for the erupting permanent teeth.
Oral habits (Lip biting, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing etc) also causes malocclusion which has to be corrected at the earliest. In such instances appliances like Oral Screen, Tongue Cribs, Lip Bumper etc are used.
2. Fixed Orthodontics: (12 years and above)
Orthodontic treatment is a feasible option for almost any adult. With the advancement in orthodontic treatments, many options are available that will fit in with your current and modern lifestyle.
This is a commonly used fixed orthodontic appliance. It consists of bands, wires and brackets. Bands are fixed around the molar/back teeth or tooth and used as anchors for the appliance. Precisely designed small buttons called brackets are bonded to each tooth in front. Thin wires, called arch wires, are passed through the brackets and attached to the bands. Tightening the arch wire puts pressure on the teeth, gradually moving them to their proper position. Braces are regularly adjusted to bring about the desired results, which may be achieved within a few months or a few years.
The first and foremost advantage of braces is the ability to straighten your teeth. Though it takes time, it yields the best results.
b. Clear Aligners
An alternative to dental braces for adults, serial aligners are used by a number of orthodontists to adjust teeth in the same way that fixed appliances work. Clear Aligners do not use metal wires and brackets. Aligners are transparent and can be removed for eating and brushing.
Unlike braces, Clear aligners are removable and comfortable.
Learn more about Clear Aligners
Finally, make sure to visit your dentist on a regular basis for checkups and cleanups for better results.