What is Orthodontics?
Specialising in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities, orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that deals with problems relating to your ‘bite’ or ‘malocclusion’. If your teeth are crooked or misaligned or if your mouth is overcrowded by your teeth, you need some form of corrective device; an appliance, such as braces, to move the teeth and/or jaws into an ideal position. Your own dentist will refer you to an orthodontist.
Nowadays, the ugly-looking wire/metal braces worn by children and teenagers have been replaced by many different types of braces which are both comfortable and visually appealing. Some of the new braces include Invisalign and Fastbraces.
Who can benefit from Orthodontics?
Many more adults and young people who have problems with their ‘bite’ or have crooked teeth or an overcrowded mouth are choosing to have their dentist refer them to an orthodontist who can correct the problem. Although, success is still more likely in a child or teenager than in an adult.
In a child or pre-teen, teeth are still growing and they are therefore more responsive to the treatment of braces than an adult. The corrective process just takes a little longer in an adult than in a child.
Your dentist will recommend orthodontic treatment if you have problems with your ‘bite’, your teeth are crooked or misshapen or you find it difficult to chew your food, and you will be provided with a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
What is the Orthodontic treatment Process?
Treatment starts with the initial diagnosis by the orthodontist who will take x-rays and an ‘impression’ of your teeth to provide a precise idea of the correction needed.
The impression, of your teeth is used to create a plaster a cast which is the blueprint of your brace.
There are two stages to the treatment:
- The fitting of a brace
- The retainer
To fit the brace, the orthodontist applies a special material to your teeth which secures each brace bracket to each tooth; the brackets are fastened to your teeth using dental cement. An archwire is threaded between the brackets and secured via metal or coloured rubber bands.
At carefully measured intervals, usually every 4 – 6 weeks, the orthodontist will adjust the brace, helping the teeth move into the right position.
Invisible braces are becoming more and more popular, especially with adults, because they are made of a clear transparent material which is almost invisible to the naked eye.
A brace is to be worn for a set period of time, which is determined by how much your teeth need to be moved to make them straight. Once this has passed the braces will be replaced by a ‘retainer’. Often, a retainer will be an acrylic plate with metal hooks attached. The plate fits into your palate and the hooks attach to your teeth.
You can remove the retainer when necessary and your orthodontist will advise how long you have to wear the retainer. You will also receive instructions on how to care for you retainer.