When the teeth and jaws are positioned poorly, they can cause a number of problems. For example, they might place more pressure than normal on the muscles used to chew food. This can lead to headaches, shoulder pain, and signs of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). The teeth may also be more difficult to keep clean. Bacteria may flourish in hard-to-reach areas, leading to an accumulation of plaque and tartar. Eventually, gum disease may develop.
Crooked teeth can also affect the patient’s self-image. One method of addressing these issues is with orthodontic treatment. A dentist trained in orthodontics can apply braces or similar appliances to reposition the teeth. Doing so can relieve the patient’s discomfort, improve his or her smile, and set the stage for better oral health.
Dental Problems That May Warrant Orthodontic Treatment
Most people are familiar with overbites and underbites. The former problem is characterized by front upper teeth that extend over the front lower teeth. In some cases, the overbite is so severe that the edges of the upper teeth touch the lower gums. An underbite is defined as front lower teeth that extend beyond the front upper teeth. This usually suggests the jaws are poorly positioned. Another common problem is crowding. Many patients have insufficient room in their jaws to support their teeth. This can occur if the jaw is too narrow, or their teeth are larger than normal. Some patients suffer a problem known as an open bite. Here, the front upper and lower teeth fail to make contact when the jaw is clenched.
Depending on the severity of the problem, the patient may be unable to tear food off using only the front teeth. Lastly, there may be large gaps present between the teeth. This can happen if the patient loses one or more teeth, and the others drift to the side. Or, the teeth may be smaller than normal. In each of the above cases, a dentist will examine the patient’s jaw and bite, and determine whether orthodontic treatment is a suitable option.
He or she will take x-rays, and make a model of the teeth to evaluate which approach – braces, retainers, etc. – offers the best chance of success. How Braces Improve Bite Irregularities As mentioned earlier, braces are one of the most popular orthodontic treatments used to resolve malocclusions. Small brackets are positioned on the front of the patient’s teeth. The brackets may be made of metal or a ceramic material that provides a more natural appearance. Archwires are threaded through the brackets, and periodically tightened to create pressure. The pressure moves the brackets, and thus the patient’s teeth, toward their proper positions. Rubber bands are often used to increase the amount of pressure. The length of time a person needs to wear braces depends on the severity of the malocclusion and his or her intended goal. Some people achieve their desired results within a few months while others need to wear your retainers or braces for a year or longer.
Retainers And Aligners: Non-Permanent Orthodontic Appliances
A number of appliances that do not bond to the teeth can still prove effective for treating bite irregularities. A popular option is a retainer. It is often worn after braces have been removed, when the teeth are still becoming fixed in their new positions. A retainer keeps them from returning to their previous improper positions.
Aligners can also be worn on the teeth to resolve malocclusions. These work in the same manner as braces, but do so without brackets and wires. They are translucent, so they blend in with the patient’s teeth, and can be removed at the patient’s discretion. Millions of people cope with crooked or improperly-spaced teeth. Orthodontic treatment offers an effective way to correct them