In dental care, you will hear the word 'orthodontics' used fairly often, so you may be asking your self "What does it mean?" Today our Manitoba dentists will answer this question for you.
What Does Orthodontics Mean?
Orthodontics is a specialty within the field of dentistry. It focuses on treating irregularities in teeth such as improper positioning, occlusion, and alignment as well as problems with the jaw.
Conditions like overcrowded or crooked teeth, jaw misalignments, overbites, or underbites can cause oral health problems and lead to serious issues with speech, eating, and quality of life.
In cases like these, orthodontists will recommend orthodontic treatment to slowly and gradually reposition teeth so they become straighter, providing the patient with a more symmetrical smile.
Whether orthodontic issues develop because of genetic or hereditary factors, bad habits, or injuries, it’s important to treat them as quickly as possible. Fixing issues such as a “bad bite”, gaps between teeth, or a misaligned jaw can reduce a patient’s oral health risks, improve the function and appearance of teeth and increase the quality of life.
Common Orthodontic Treatments
Based on your orthodontic condition, your dentist or orthodontist might recommend one or more of the following orthodontic treatments:
- Clear aligners
- Orthodontic braces
- Removable appliances
- Oral surgery
All of these treatments will require a threefold effort on the part of the orthodontist, the dentist, and the patient in order to achieve the desired results, as every one of these treatment methods require care and maintenance.
The Benefits of Orthodontic Treatments
People of all ages can benefit from having orthodontic treatment done. If your teeth are improperly positioned or misaligned, your risk of gum disease and tooth decay increases.
Your teeth might also be more difficult to floss, which can cause poor oral hygiene as you get older – this can negatively impact your oral and overall health.
Effective orthodontic treatments can:
- Close gaps between teeth
- Fix improper bites
- Straighten crooked teeth
- Properly align your teeth and jaw
- Ensure crowded teeth are appropriately spaced
- Improve oral function (including speech and eating)
How Will I Know if I Need Orthodontic Treatment?
If your jaw is misaligned or you have crowded, crooked, protruding or missing teeth, you might have some difficulty eating, chewing foods or speaking. Patients will also sometimes experience pain or muscle tension, or painful symptoms in their jaw if the issue is related to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) Disorder.
Your dentist might also review your dental history, or mention issues with your bite or jaw during your routine oral examination, and refer you to an orthodontist that can meet your needs by developing a custom treatment plan.
How Long Will My Orthodontic Treatment Take?
Because each patient is different, your orthodontist will estimate the length of your treatment based on your case.
The severity of your orthodontic condition, your age, the treatment method being used and other factors can influence the duration of your treatment. Usually, you’ll see your dentist or orthodontist regularly for a period of months or years.
Adults generally take longer to treat than teens or children. The majority of people will wear orthodontic braces for approximately 2 years. You will get specific instructions from your orthodontist to help you achieve the desired results from your treatment.