Some people have straight teeth that line up together, but many of us have crooked teeth that don’t fit together correctly. Crooked teeth can affect your bite. The good news is you can easily straighten your teeth and correct your bite with the help of the right orthodontic treatment. Find out what orthodontics is and how it can help you.
So What Is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the dentistry branch that addresses the diagnosis, prevention, interception, guidance, and correction of bad bites or dental irregularities, including the use of braces.
A specialist known as an orthodontist is the right person to consult for your orthodontic treatment. These specialists attend two or more additional years of education after four years of dental school.
You might think that straightening your teeth only has aesthetic benefits, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Crooked teeth can be harder to clean, which can lead to tooth decay or periodontal disease. Teeth that don’t fit correctly can make it harder to chew, leading to headaches, shoulder or back pain, and even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
How Do Orthodontic Treatments Work?
Orthodontic treatments involve different types of appliances used to retrain muscles, slowly move teeth, and affect your jaw’s growth by placing gentle pressure on your teeth and jaw.
Fixed vs. Removable Appliances
Orthodontic treatments could involve fixed or removable appliances. Depending on how severe your situation, your orthodontist will advise you on which approach is the right one for you.
Fixed appliances include:
Braces: You ve most likely heard of braces: they re the most common fixed appliance. They consist of bands, wires, and brackets. How do they work? The bands are the anchors held in place around your teeth. Brackets are attached to the front of your teeth. Arch wires connect the brackets to the bands. Tightening the archwires puts pressure on your teeth, slowly moving them towards their target position. Braces are usually adjusted monthly and are worn for a few months to a few years.
- Special fixed appliances: These should only be used as a last resort to control thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Since they’re attached to the teeth by bands, they can feel quite uncomfortable while eating.
- Fixed space maintainers: Sometimes, young children lose their teeth prematurely. In such situations, an orthodontist might place a space maintainer in your child’s mouth to keep the space open until a permanent tooth appears.
Removable appliances include:
- Aligners: These are increasingly becoming a popular alternative to traditional braces for adults. Aligners move teeth in the same way as braces, but they are virtually invisible and don’t involve metal wires and brackets. If you’re using them, you need to remove them while eating, brushing, and flossing.
- Removable space maintainers: These devices are used for the same reason as fixed space maintainers. They’re made up of plastic or wire branches and an acrylic base that fits over the jaw. They’re placed in open spaces between teeth to keep the teeth apart.
- Jaw repositioning appliances: These appliances are also known as splints. They’re placed either on the top or lower jaw and are used to treat TMJ disorders by training the jaw to close in a better position.
- Lip and cheek bumpers: Your lip and cheek muscles might exert pressure on your teeth. In such cases, you can use bumpers to keep your lips and cheeks away from the teeth.
- Palatal expander: This device is a plastic plate that fits over the roof of the mouth. It’s used when the arch of your upper jaw needs to be widened.
- Removable retainers: These devices, worn on the roof of the mouth, prevent your teeth from shifting back to their previous position.
- Headgear: These devices slow down the growth of the upper jaw. They also hold the back teeth in place while the front teeth are pulled back.