Orthodontics – the term has been derived from Greek words which mean ‘straight’ and ‘tooth’. The focus of this branch of dentistry is on the alignment of teeth and treating issues that cause irregularities in the face.
It covers the procedures and appliances that help in bringing alignment and facial poise. Orthodontists provide support in jaw alignment as well as tooth alignment, because a lack of these can bring much pain and discomfort in a person.
Dental problems that are addressed include a variety of issues, including both children and adults. Teeth that are misaligned or positioned incorrectly cause discomfort and can lead to tooth decay, toothache, headaches, jaw pain and TMJ.
The following are some of the dental issues that are typically improved by orthodontics.
Misaligned teeth are also teeth that don’t fit properly in one’s mouth. Crowding causes crooked teeth and overlapping. This appearance issue affects people adversely.
Many have the issue of having ‘too many teeth’, there is overlapping of teeth seen in this situation and also affects a person’s appearance adversely.
When the lower and upper jaw does not fit in properly, ‘bite’ issues develop in a person. Overbite, underbite, crossbite and open bite conditions are commonly seen.
Overbite is the situation where the lower jaw/teeth disappear when a person bites or chews. Under bite happens when the lower jaw covers the upper jaw.
An open bite is the condition when there is a gap between the upper and lower teeth. Cross bite is the condition that happens when at least one tooth does not come down in front of the front teeth while chewing.
These bite issues bring a lot of pain and discomfort while consuming food even to the extent of affecting a person’s lifestyle.
Thumb sucking is a habit commonly seen in many children. They do this as a comforting mechanism and many of them outgrow this habit as they get older. When children suck their thumb continuously, the teeth are not able to move to their proper position.
Misalignment of teeth is the most common consequence of this habit and proper teeth development is affected.
Another situation is when there are gaps in the teeth positions. This can be seen if the teeth are small compared to the size of the mouth or teeth are lost and there is a gap between the teeth.
Due to misaligned teeth and teeth being pushed into different positions, pain and soreness can be felt in the head and neck region. Jaws and neck ache when they are moved, this pain is also felt in the cheeks and neck region. This happens due to improper alignment and also causes headaches, spasm and tiredness. Chewing, drinking, speaking all these cause movements in the jaw and neck region and brings in discomfort as the jaws are not in their proper position. If this is corrected with treatment, the discomfort and pain will disappear.
For the above dental concerns of misalignment in teeth and jaws, there are various procedures and appliances available in Orthodontics to correct the problem. Some of the appliances are fixed in nature and some of them are removable – what type of appliances are to be used can be decided only according to the issue that needs to be corrected.
Examples of fixed devices include braces and spacers. There are traditional metal braces used to correct misalignment in teeth. There are other types like braces with brackets, or with coloured bands. Some of them are invisible braces.
Depending on personal preference and treatment requirements they can be chosen. They are used to bring the teeth to the correct position. Constant pressure is applied to the teeth and this helps slowly move them to the proper position.
Another issue of misaligned teeth happens in the case of children. In some children, teeth fall out earlier before the adult teeth make an appearance. In this situation, spacers are used – they help to keep the space available for the adult teeth when it makes their appearance. If this is not used, the teeth will be misaligned due to shifting the position into the gap/space that is available due to lost teeth.
The removable devices come in different types like head gear, retainer and aligners. When conditions are minor, then these devices are used.
The headgears are bands that are placed over the head. They are attached to the braces and they are held in place with the help of these bands. The growth of the upper jaw is slowed using this device. The upper teeth are pulled back and the teeth in the lower jaw are held in place with this. Retainers are used to keep the teeth from moving away from their position. They need to be worn only during the night after wearing them for some time. When the teeth are set in their positions, then they need not be worn.
Aligners are clear trays that are worn on the teeth to help them move to the desired position. The trays are used for two to three weeks and then a different set of trays are used. The trays are made tighter after each set to align the teeth.
Orthodontic treatment helps correct misaligned teeth and jaws, there are simple treatment procedures as well as complicated procedures to correct the more serious issues. Each treatment procedure is determined after undergoing a series of tests and examinations.
X-rays, photos of the teeth etc. are used to diagnose a dental problem. After assessing the problem, the treatment plan is discussed with the patient and then the procedures will begin.
It is important to get expert guidance at the earliest possible time. Delay will cause the condition to escalate and result in more severe problems. Hence it is important to seek assistance as soon as you notice the problem. Get a consultation so you can decide what to do next.