Orthodontics is one of the dental specialties. The word orthodontics is derived from the words orthos which in Greek language means “straight or proper” and odons which means “teeth”.
Orthodontics is specific with diagnosing and treating tooth misalignment and irregularity in the jaw area (malocclusions). At first, orthodontic treatments were focused toward the treatment of teens and pre-teens, but today around 30 percent of orthodontic patients are adults as well.
There are many advantages to well-aligned teeth, including better oral hygiene, clearer speech and a more pleasant smile – cosmetic smile. Though orthodontic treatment can be effective at any age, the American Dental Association suggests that an orthodontic assessment should be performed around the age of seven.
The earlier orthodontic treatment begins, the more quickly the problem can be successfully resolved. This is because jaws are not developed yet and it is easy to manipulate with them and push them to grow in the right dirrection.
What problems can be treated with orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that can be used alone, or in combination with maxillofacial or cosmetic dentistry. Here are some of the common conditions treated with orthodontics:
1. Anteroposterior deviations – The discrepancy between a pair of closed jaws is known as an anteroposterior discrepancy or deviation. An example of such a discrepancy would be an overbite (where the upper teeth are further forward than the lower teeth), or an underbite (where the lower teeth are further forward then the upper teeth).
2. Overcrowding – Overcrowding is a very common orthodontic problem. It occurs when there is an insufficient space (not enough jaw bone) for the normal growth and development of adult teeth.
3. Aesthetic problems – A beautiful straight smile might be influenced by a single misaligned tooth. This tooth can be realigned with ease and accuracy by the orthodontist.
Orthodontics is a technologically advanced dental field which offers many solutions to malocclusions and other cosmetic problems. The orthodontist will generally perform an examination, panoramic x-rays and study models (bite impressions) in order to assess the exact nature of the discrepancy (malocclusion).
When a diagnosis has been made, there are many different orthodontic treatment options available.
Here are some of the most common treatments:
Removable appliances – There are a wide range of removable appliances commonly used in orthodontics. These include:
- headgear that correct overbites,
- Hawley retainers that improve the position of the teeth,
- facemasks which are used to correct an underbite.
Fixed orthodontic braces – A metal or ceramic dental base is affixed to each tooth, and a dental wire is inserted through each base. By regularly adjusting the wire, the orthodontist is able to gradually push the teeth into proper alignment When the desired results are achieved, the fixed dental braces can be completely removed.
Invisalign® – This is a new, removable type of dental aligner that is completely transparent. It does not interfere with eating because it is removable, and mechanically works in the same way as the regular metal braces. However, not all patients are candidates for the Invisalign® treatment.