What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontic treatment uses techniques to straighten teeth through the use of gentle pressure over a period of time.
Why is orthodontics needed?
Orthodontics is used to improve the function and chewing ability of teeth. It can help the jaws and muscles to work properly and make your face and smile look better. Straight teeth, make it easier to clean your teeth which improves oral hygiene.
Other reasons why orthodontics may be necessary include crooked or crowded teeth, an overbite, too much space between teeth, missing teeth, and dental problems as a result of an oral habit.
When is the best time to start orthodontics?
Two to three appointments are usually needed for this procedure. The front surface of the tooth is filed down and reshaped. An impression is taken and sent to a dental laboratory where a plaster replica is formed and the veneers are fabricated. Approximately one to two weeks later, they are placed on the teeth and checked for shape and colour. Adjustments may be required at the dental laboratory at this stage. The veneers are then bonded to the teeth and polished.
How is it done?
There are several methods used for treating orthodontic problems. Not all techniques are appropriate for all dental problems.
- Preventive and Interceptive: This is the phase of orthodontics that is concerned with maintaining a normal bite or the elimination of a condition that might lead to the development of a malocclusion or bad bite.
- Surgical: This is a method used to remove teeth, expose impacted teeth, or to reposition jaws to be better lined up together.
- Corrective: This is the phase of orthodontics that is concerned with the reduction or elimination of a malocclusion. Several techniques are available.
- Braces: The most precise way of moving teeth by using wires and brackets attached to the teeth. Braces can be used in conjunction with other orthodontic techniques.
- Clear Aligners: These are a series of thin, tightly adapting, appliances that are worn sequentially to align teeth. People who do not prefer to wear braces usually wear these appliances. There are limitations to this type of orthodontic treatment that are discussed during the consultation stage. Two of the more commonly used clear aligners are “Invisilign” and “MTM” aligners
- Removable appliances: Although not as accurate as braces, they can move teeth and, to some extent, jaws. Appliances can be used on their own or with braces.
- Headgear: Used to guide the direction of tooth movement and /or jaw development. This can be used at any time during orthodontic treatment.
- Retainers: Retainers keep teeth straight after using braces or removable appliances. They can be either bonded or removable.
How long will teeth remain straight?
Once orthodontic treatment is complete and retainers are in place, teeth should remain in the same relative position for years. Minor shifting can occur and is not unexpected. If retainers are not worn, then the tendency for teeth to shift is increased.Retention is considered lifelong and necessary to minimize post-treatment tooth movement.