Although braces do bring an obvious physical advantage, such as an improved bite and much straighter teeth, they also bring more beneficial changes to the patient who decides to have them. One of the most common is improved self-image, because some people can be very self-conscious about the way that their teeth look. However, another brilliant side effect is the removal of health problems such as teeth and jaw issues. Crooked or misaligned teeth not only look wrong, but they can make it difficult for the patient to be able to clean their teeth correctly, sometimes leading to tooth decay and bacterial infections. In the very worst of cases, this can lead to tooth loss.
If orthodontic problems are left untreated, then the patient can also develop problems with their chewing and therefore digestion issues, problems speaking naturally that develop into speech impediments, and eventually uneven wear on their teeth which will make the misalignment even more obvious. Years of crooked teeth will put strain on a patient’s gums and jawbones, which can lead to secondary headaches and neck pain.
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all children should be seen be an orthodontic dentist at the age of seven so that they can be assessed. Of course, orthodontic treatment can be offered to anyone of any age, but catching problems early will make the treatment easier.
Technology and scientific advance has been greatly improved over the last decade in the field of orthodontics, and that means that never before have braces been so easy to wear and so effective at moving and straightening teeth in a patient. There is now a much greater variety of treatment options, so as well as the traditional and proven effective braces, a patient can also have clear braces, or brackets exactly the same colour as their teeth – or even heat-activated wires, developed by NASA, that do not have to be adjusted frequently by your dentist! Some patients will be excellent candidates for a treatment called Invisalign, which is a treatment that uses completely clear aligners, like retainers, that make brackets and wires completely obsolete.
Speak to your dentist about all of these different treatment options, and understand exactly what needs to be done to transform your smile into one that is not only beautiful, but healthy.
You may wish to have orthodontic treatment if you have:
- Breathing problems or swallowing problems: only breathing through your mouth will lead to snoring, sleep apnea, or other problems that are easy to avoid
- Crossbite: this is when some teeth on the upper jaw sit inside the lower jaw, and some on the outside when you bite, and can make chewing and speaking more difficult
- Crowding: having too many teeth or too many misaligned teeth in your mouth will lead to overcrowding
- Deep overbite: this is when your upper jaw greatly extends over your lower jaw, and can lead to problems if your lower teeth bite into the delicate tissue in the roof of your mouth, leading to injury
- Disfigurement of the mouth or face: misaligned teeth can lead to other much more serious developmental problems, and the issue with the teeth have to be treated first before anything else
- Jaw joint pain: this sort of pain is usually due to issues with teeth, and so the pain will disappear once the orthodontic treatment has been carried out in the majority of cases
- Missing teeth, or extra teeth: a wide variety of reasons such as injury, genetics, or decay could lead to losing a tooth, and it should be replaced along with general orthodontic care
- Protruding upper teeth: this is also called overjet, and is often accompanied with a shorter lower jaw that normal
- Self-esteem problems: having teeth problems can often make people very self-conscious of their smile, how they talk, and how they eat. Orthodontic treatment can remove the cause for embarrassment
- Teeth with gaps: this could be due to missing teeth or teeth that have been lost, or because of a spacing issue
- Speech, biting, or chewing problems: these are secondary symptoms of the actual teeth problem, and should be resolved once the orthodontic treatment has been completed
- Underbite: this is when you lower jaw greatly extends under your upper jaw, and can lead to headaches, jaw pain, and other problems
Additional issues with children:
Persistent thumb or any other finger sucking can sometimes lead to teeth protruding outwards as they grow. Another common problem is out-of-position teeth eruption, which will require fixed braces in order to be moved to their proper places.
What steps are involved in orthodontic treatment?
- Planning: at your first orthodontic appointment, your dentist will take a full medical and dental history. They will also take a mold of your teeth, x-rays, and photographs, so that they can create a computer-generated image of your teeth and mouth
- Activity: this is when the treatment, whatever it is your dentist thinks is best, will start. You will need to be vigilant and follow any instructions that your dentist gives you
- Retention: after treatment is over, your dentist will move you on to a different kind of appliance, usually a removable retainer that is worn at night. This is to ensure that teeth do not wander back to their original positions, putting you in the same problems as you started with. By using your retainer as instructed, your smile will last the rest of your life.
To learn how braces can work for you, call (619) 640-5100.