Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth as well as jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Misaligned teeth as well as teeth that do not fit together with each other are harder to maintain clean, are at risk of being shed early as a result of dental caries and periodontal diseases, and cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain.
The benefits of orthodontic treatment include a healthier mouth, a more pleasing appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime.
If you have any of the following, you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment:
- Overbite, sometimes called “buck teeth” — where the upper front teeth lie too far forward (stick out) over the lower teeth
- Underbite — a “bulldog” appearance where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth too far back
- Crossbite — when the upper teeth do not come down slightly in front of the lower teeth when biting together normally
- Open bite — space between the biting surfaces of the front and/or side teeth when the back teeth bite together
- Misplaced midline— when the center of your upper front teeth does not line up with the center of your lower front teeth
- Crowding — when there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate
How Does Orthodontic Treatment Work?
Many different types of appliances, both fixed and removable, are used to help move teeth, retrain muscles and affect the growth of the jaws. These appliances work by placing gentle pressure on the teeth and jaws. The severity of your problem will determine which orthodontic approach is likely to be the most effective.
- Braces — the most common fixed appliances, braces consist of bands, wires and/or brackets. Bands are fixed around the teeth or tooth and used as anchors for the appliance, while brackets are most often bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires are passed through the brackets and attached to the bands. Tightening the arch wire puts tension on the teeth, gradually moving them to their proper position. Braces are usually adjusted monthly to bring about the desired results, which may be achieved within a few months to a few years. Today’s braces are smaller, lighter and show far less metal than in the past. They come in bright colors for kids as well as clear styles preferred by many adults.
- Invisalign® uses invisible trays to move your teeth. The tray sets come in a series; each set is worn for 2 weeks. The trays have “programmed movements” so every time you switch to the next tray, you watch the magic happen as your teeth move into that tray. It is exciting to watch your teeth get straighter and straighter over time. Typically, you will receive enough tray sets allowing you to come to the office every 2 months, which is very convenient for busy lifestyles. Because these trays are totally invisible, it will be OUR little secret. Before you know it, you can proudly show off that amazing smile.