Orthodontics is a special branch of Dentistry that treats patients with improper positioning of teeth. The word ‘orthodontics’ or ‘orthodontia’, as it was previously called, comes from the Greek words ‘ortho‘, meaning ‘straight or perfect’ and ‘dontos’, meaning ‘teeth’. Orthodontics also deals with unusual shape and development of jaw or improper facial growth (dentofacial orthopedics). A person who specialize in orthodontics is called an orthodontist. It is a form of cosmetic dentistry which is used to improve the appearance of a person.
Orthodontics treatment is valuable for treating the following:
- Treating an improper bite or Malocclusion.
- Straightening crooked teeth
- To improve oral functions such as speech or eating.
- Closing wide gaps between the teeth.
Malocclusion or improper bite is of many types. It may be overbite, where the upper front set of teeth protrudes out over the lower set which may injure the person in sports, falling down, etc. Then, there is underbite, where the lower front teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth are too far back and crossbite and openbite, when the upper front teeth does not come down over the lower teeth while biting normally and there is space between the biting surfaces of the front or side teeth when the back teeth bite together, respectively. There may be misplaced midline where the center of your upper front teeth does not line up with the center of your lower front teeth. Cawding is also one form of malocclusion where the patient’s jaw is narrow and there may not be enough space for all the teeth. For more information about braces and orthodontics contact Pediatric Dental Arts in Downey California
Orthodontics treatment treats all the above mentioned dental problems. Different types of appliances, fixed or removable, are used in orthodontics treatment. The most commonly used fixed appliance is braces which consists of wires or brackets and bands. Bands are fixed firmly around the teeth and act as anchors for the appliance, while the brackets are bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires pass through the brackets and are attached to the bands. This arch wire when tightened, puts tension on the teeth, thus, gradually moving them to proper positions. The braces are adjusted once a month and the treatment time varies from seven month to several years.
Other than braces, commonly used fixed appliances are fixed space maintainers and special fixed appliances. Fixed space maintainers are used when a child looses a milk tooth to stop the two teeth from the two sides to come inside the gap until the adult teeth comes out. Special fixed appliances are useful for patients to control tongue thrusting or thumb sucking, which they may find uncomfortable while eating.
Other removable appliances used for an orthodontist treatment includes aligners, removable space maintainers, jaw repositioning appliances, lip and cheek bumpers, palatal expander, removable retainers and head gears.
A proper professional advise from an orthodontist is needed before any of these treatments are opted for. An orthodontist will do an initial diagnosis which includes a full medical and dental health history, a clinical examination and X-rays of teeth and jaw. The treatment is then planned accordingly.