What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is all about the growth of the teeth, jaws and face. Orthodontic treatment is about making the best of your teeth and improving the harmony of your mouth and jaws. Once you can bite together correctly you can eat more comfortably and care for your teeth and gums more easily.
Your smile will also benefit immensely. There is no age limit, patients from 18 to 80 have been successfully treated.
There are many types of braces, standard metal, ceramic, lingual and aligners. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages and Dr William Lee and RT. Dr Tones will recommend which is the best option suited to your circumstances.
The length of time that you will need to wear your braces will vary but the average is 18-24 months. Occasionally you may also need to have some teeth extracted for the braces to be fully effective.
It is normal to expect some aching and tenderness in the gums as the teeth start to move, but usually wears off after a few days.
At the end of your treatment you may be required to wear a removable or fixed retainer to hold your teeth in their new position
Who needs orthodontics?
Sometimes, a child’s teeth and jaw do not develop in the normal way. The medical term for teeth that are out of position is malocclusion. Some cases of malocclusion occur for no obvious reason. Other cases are the result of certain behaviours, such as frequent thumb sucking, or an injury to the teeth or bones of the face.
Many cases of malocclusion do not pose serious health concerns. However, if malocclusion is not corrected during the teenage years, it may affect the appearance of the teeth and the shape of the face. This could cause psychological and emotional problems, such as lack of self-confidence, anxiety and depression. More severe cases of malocclusion can affect the functioning ability of the teeth, mouth and jaw. For example, it can make it difficult for a person to eat food; cleaning the teeth may be harder and the teeth may be vulnerable to damage.
Malocclusion is much more common than most people think. For example, a recent study carried out in England found that around a third of 12 year olds would benefit from some degree of orthodontic treatment.
Why orthodontics is necessary
The primary goal of orthodontics is to improve the appearance and function of misaligned or crooked teeth. Sometimes, problems that affect the normal development of teeth run in families. This suggests that there may be certain genes that you inherit from your parents which disrupt the development of your teeth and jaw. Genes are units of genetic material that control how your body and characteristics develop. In many cases, developmental problems with a person’s teeth and jaw occur for no apparent reason. However, a person’s teeth and jaw can sometimes be damaged in an accident, such as a fall, or as a result of activities, such as thumb sucking, that persist well into childhood. In children, crooked or abnormally arranged teeth are not usually an immediate health problem. However, these types of abnormalities may affect the later development of the child’s teeth, mouth and jaw. In severe cases, such abnormal developments can affect a child’s physical appearance as they grow older.
Reasons for treatment
Some of the most common reasons why people are referred to an orthodontist for orthodontic treatment are listed below.
- Protruding upper front teeth – one of the most common reasons for needing orthodontic treatment, particularly as the teeth may be more prone to damage during falls or contact sports.
- Crowding – people with narrow jaws often lack enough space for their teeth, resulting in crowding.
- Impacted teeth – the adult teeth come through in the wrong position.
- Asymmetrical teeth – in some people, the centre of their upper and lower teeth do not match, giving their teeth an asymmetrical or crooked appearance.
- Deep bite – the upper teeth cover the lower teeth too much.
- Reverse bite – the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth.
- Open bite – the upper and lower front teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed; an open bite often occurs as a result of prolonged thumb sucking.
Orthodontics and adults
Although children and teenagers commonly require orthodontic treatment to correct developmental problems with their teeth, an increasing number of adults are now also seeking treatment. This can be to correct problems that were not treated in the past or to improve the appearance and function of their teeth.
The principles of treating adults are much the same as for treating children, although the costs may be higher if more complex treatment is required. The British Orthodontics Society (BOS) estimates that the cost of treating an adult can range from £2,000 to £6,000, depending on the complexity of the treatment.
Another reason why adults may need orthodontic treatment is if they have a condition known as sleep apnoea. This is where the muscles and soft tissue at the back of the throat collapse inwards during sleep. This causes breathing difficulties and disturbed sleep which results in tiredness the following day.
People with mild sleep apnoea often benefit from an orthodontic device called a mandibular repositioning splint (MRS), which is designed to prevent the area at the back of the throat from narrowing.
“Orthodontic treatment is about making the best of your teeth”