Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that corrects improperly positioned teeth. It also involves correcting various aspects of facial and jaw deformations. The person who specializes in this field is known as an orthodontist.
It further includes cosmetic dentistry concerned with correcting or improving one’s personal appearance.
Teeth that do not close tightly together pose the risk of not being able to keep clean with greater risk of being lost through tooth decay and periodontal disease.
It may also cause a strain on chewing muscles leading to headaches and other strains. These deformed teeth can altogether change one’s physical look.
When to know you need the services of an orthodontist
You cannot really tell whether you need orthodontist services as this mainly determined by the orthodontist or dentist themselves after performing a series diagnosis including x-rays, dental health medical history and plaster models to ascertain whether orthodontics services are suggested. From there they can come up with treatment plan right for you.
However, the following may indicate whether one requires the services of an orthodontist.
- Overbite where upper front teeth lie outside the lower teeth creating an overlap.
- Under bite-where the lower teeth sticks out or protrudes outwards than the upper teeth.
- Open bite-space is left between biting surface when the rear teeth bite together
- When you have a cross bite
- When you have misplaced midline where the middle of upper and lower teeth does not line up.
- Gaps and spacing between the teeth due to missing teeth or teeth that don’t fill up the mouth.
- When there are more teeth than the dental ridge can hold.
Tools used by an orthodontist
An orthodontist employs variety of devices to correct these defects; the tools used are both fixed and removable and include:
- Fixed space maintainer- A space where a tooth was lost earlier is maintained until a new tooth comes out. It’s done by attaching a band on the tooth next to the space left empty and extending it to the tooth on the adjacent side of the space.
- By using braces composed of band, brackets and wires. This moves teeth to their correct position by adjusting monthly.
- By the use of aligners which work in the same way as braces only that they don’t have brackets and metallic wires.
Other tools used include jaw repositioning appliances, removable space maintainers, lip and cheek bumpers, palatial expanders, headgear, removable retainers
All these devices serve to narrow the gap between teeth, arrange in a line tip of the teeth, straightening curved teeth, correcting an improper bite and to counter long term damaged and strained teeth.
Commencement of orthodontic treatment
It usually starts when the child is about 12 or 13 years old; this is when the adult teeth have developed. There are instances when treatment may commence later if the complication had not been noticed earlier. However, children with cleft lip palate may start treatment long before their adult teeth develop fully.
Good oral hygiene is usually encouraged before the commencement of orthodontic works. Patients who don’t practice good oral hygiene standards are likely to suffer from tooth decay even after being put on treatment.
They should therefore brush regularly to prevent decay as some food particles may stick on the devices used.