Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is “malocclusion” which means “bad bite”. The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to achieve facial balances.
Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics...
Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics, because healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age. Some problems may be easier to correct if treated early, and early diagnosis and treatment by a specialist can help guide facial growth and tooth eruption and prevent more serious problems from developing. Waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in or until facial growth is nearly complete may make correction of some problems more difficult. So the orthodontist has to monitor the patient. It is recommendable that all children have an orthodontic screening at the age of about 7 even -earlier if a parent or the family dentist discovers a problem. Commonly it is advisable to start with an orthodontic treatment when the child is 10- 12 years old.
Some malocclusions are inherited, but most are acquired. Inherited problems include too much space between teeth, deep bite, extra teeth or missing teeth by birth and a variety of irregularities of the jaws and face.
Acquired malocclusions can be caused by trauma, (i.e. accidents) habits with thumb, finger or dummy (i.e. pacifier or comforter) sucking, lip sucking , tongue pressure, airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids, dental disease like caries and premature loss of primary or permanent teeth by caries or trauma. Whether inherited or acquired, many of these problems affect not only alignment of the teeth but also facial development and appearance as well.
Teeth may be aligned poorly because of a discrepancy between the space available in each jaw and the size of the teeth. It can also be a result of premature teeth loss, since the other teeth tip into the space. The bone and gums over the roots of extremely crowded teeth may become thin and recede as a result of severe crowding. Impacted teeth, teeth that should come in but have not, poor biting relationships and undesirable appearance may all result from crowding as well as an increased risk of dental decay due to difficulty in maintaining proper oral hygiene.
Protruding upper teeth
Upper front teeth that stick out beyond normal contact with the lower front teeth are prone to injury. They often indicate a poor bite of the back teeth, the molars, and may indicate an unevenness in jaw growth. Commonly prominent upper teeth are associated with a lower jaw that is short in proportion to the upper jaw. Thumb or finger sucking habits can cause a protrusion of the upper incisor teeth.
A deep overbite or deep bite occurs when the lower incisor teeth bite too close or into the gum tissue behind the upper teeth. When the lower front teeth bite into the palate or gum tissue behind the upper front teeth, significant bone damage and discomfort will occur. A deep bite can also contribute to excessive wear of the incisor teeth.
Openbite is a lack of vertical overlap of the incisor teeth. An open space between upper and lower front teeth when biting causes all the chewing pressure to be placed on the back teeth. This excessive biting pressure and rubbing together of the back teeth makes chewing less efficient and contributes significant tooth wear. The pronunciation can be bad and the tongue will often be postured between the front teeth.
If teeth are missing or small, or the dental arch is extremely wide, space between the teeth can occur. There may be a gap between the middle front teeth or other teeth. Excessive vertical overlap of the front teeth as well as incisor protrusion accompanied with tongue posture problems may leed to spacing.
Crossbites can result from excessive growth of the lower jaw, lack of growth of upper jaw or a combination. The lower jaw and the teeth are displaced to the front of the upper jaw structures. A narrow upper jaw often forces the patient to move the lower jaw forward or to one side when closing into a stable bite. The lower teeth are located outside the upper teeth. This can result in facial asymmetry. Due to biting, chewing, temporo mandibular joint and pronunciation difficulties, crossbites need to be corrected early. Careful monitoring of jaw growth and teeth development is indicated for these patients. Sometimes the cross bite is primarily genetic in origin.
Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This may contribute to conditions that cause not only tooth decay but also eventual gum disease and tooth loss. Untreated orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth and surfaces, inefficient chewing function and thus digestive difficulties, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth. It may cause misalignment of the jaw joints which can result in chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck. Straight teeth are less prone to decay, to develop periodontal disease, and straight teeth decrease risk of injury.
When untreated, many orthodontic problems become worse. Treatment by a specialist to correct the original problem is less costly than the additional dental care required to treat more serious problems that often develop in later years. The value of an attractive smile should not be underestimated. A pleasing appearance is a vital asset to one`s self confidence. A persons self –esteem often improves as treatment brings teeth, lips and face into proportion. In this way, an orthodontic treatment can benefit social and career success as well as improve one`s general attitude toward life.
and Dental hygenists are health care professionals who teach children to keep their mouth, teeth and gums healthy.