Orthodontics is a division of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial conditions. Orthodontics is devoted to building beautiful smiles by bringing teeth, lips, and jaws into proper alignment. Orthodontics includes dentofacial orthopedics, which is used to correct problems involving the growth of the jaw.
Straight teeth function better, are easier to clean, and are more likely to last your lifetime. Straight teeth contribute to healthy teeth and gums. Properly aligned teeth help one to effectively bite, chew and speak. Improperly aligned teeth and jaws can lead to difficulty in eating, tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction, loss of teeth, and more.
Orthodontic treatment provides the following:
Straightens teeth that are rotated, tilted, or otherwise improperly aligned;
Corrects crowded or unevenly spaced teeth;
Corrects bite problems;
Aligns the upper and lower jaws.
THE ORTHODONTIC PROCESS
Orthodontic treatment is a very complex process. One change affects another, which affects another, which affects another, and so on. The process must be very carefully controlled. Only an orthodontic specialist has the training and skills to understand the intricacies of this process.
Orthodontics uses custom-made braces, retainers, or other appiances to apply a constant, gentle force to move the teeth towards the desired position. There are many types of appliances, and not every appliance is appropriate or the best choice in every case. In traditional braces, small brackets are placed onto the teeth, and then wires are threaded through the brackets. There are many sizes of brackets and wires, each with it's own "prescription" built in. The braces move the teeth within the bone. The moving teeth cause the bone to resorb to create room for the tooth in it's new correct position. Simultaneously, bone fills in where the tooth was previously positioned. Many adjustments are made throughout the course of treatment to keep progress moving forward.
Treatment time will vary with the complexity of the case and an individual's particular stage of growth and dental anatomy. The estimated treatment usually takes between one and three years, although unforeseen situations can extend this time period. Rushing the process cannot be done or damage may occur to the roots, bone and teeth. Treatment time will be lengthened without a patient's complete cooperation and compliance with instructions, attending every scheduled appointment, avoiding breakage of brackets, wires and appliances, and maintaining good oral hygiene habits.
In the final stages of treatment, the teeth may be straight sooner than the tooth roots and/or jaw are in proper alignment. This cannot be seen by the eye, and must be determined by taking additional x-rays to see below the surface. It can be a challenging time because the critical process of realignment is not as easily visible as your new beautiful straight teeth. It is important, however, to be patient and determined to the end when all goals are met.
Following the active phase of treatment and the braces have been removed, you will enter a retention phase to keep the teeth from relapsing. The length of time needed to wear retainers will vary based on each individual.