An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed extra education and training to specifically take care of how the teeth are spaced and issues that can arise from misalignment that affect a person’s jaw and face.
If there are problems with the alignment of teeth a myriad of health issues may follow down the line. Oral health affects overall health. Properly aligned teeth, jaws, and bite are vital to living a healthy life.
Of course, there are also aesthetic reasons to visit an orthodontist. An attractive and welcoming smile is empowering. While it may just be unconscious for some, a smile tells the world a lot about a person and boosts self-confidence.
For health and quality of life purposes it is important for most people to seek out a consultation with an orthodontist to get a professional opinion on current issues or any that may arise overtime.
Not at all! While starting treatment at a younger age can prevent more complicated issues in the future, treatment in adulthood can also be effective. If it seems that a child may require some orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists suggests children at the age of 7 should go in for their first consultation.
There are a few tell-tale signs of current or future issues with the spacing of teeth that can impede health or the appearance of a smile.
Between the ages of 6 and 8 it is suggested that parents take note if their child’s teeth are excessively spaced far apart or are too close causing crowding and overlapping of teeth. Other bite issues to look out for are an open bite or overbite. An open bite is when there is a gap between the front top and bottom teeth when the mouth is closed. An overbite is when the opposite occurs and the top front teeth cover the bottom teeth when the mouth is closed. If the bottom teeth overlap the top teeth when the mouth is closed, this is an underbite and should be looked at by an orthodontic specialist. If the front teeth protrude too far or other teeth are above the rest of the line of teeth then an orthodontist should be consulted.
Mouth breathing can be a sign of orthodontic issues. Fixing the spacing, alignment, and position of the teeth can aid in better breathing and oxygenation of the body.
Cheek or Palate Biting
When the teeth are aligned properly frequent accidental biting of the cheek or palate should not occur. While some accidental bites happen from time to time, incessant biting may lead to infections, scar tissue, and other health problems.
While some children struggle with pronunciations of certain words and sounds, it is possible that this speech disfluency is being caused by the alignment of their teeth. A lisp, whistle, or slurring of words may be helped with some orthodontic treatment.
When thumb – or any digit – sucking continues after the age of 4, the teeth may grow in an unusual fashion due to the growth pattern being altered. This can affect the structure of the jaw, bite, and other health issues.
Jaw Movement and Noises
If the jaw moves in an irregular pattern when the mouth is opened or closed there may be an issue an orthodontist can fix. Also, any clicking, grinding, or sounds generating from the jaw when it is moved should be looked into.
When the braces are first put on the teeth, it is usually a painless process. However, if any minor aching or pains occur during the first few days, over the counter pain medicine can help. Before the braces are placed, the orthodontist may want to install spacers to prepare the back teeth for brackets. Some people have found this to be a bit uncomfortable, but should dwindle over time. Throughout the experience of having braces, they will be adjusted in the orthodontist’s office. This may cause some initial mild discomfort, but will dwindle.
Each patient is unique and the duration of orthodontic treatment varies. Usually braces are worn anywhere from 6 to 30 months and then a removable retainer helps to keep the teeth in place.
Depending on what is being treated, appointments while braces are installed on the teeth are usually scheduled once every 4 to 10 weeks to monitor and make adjustments.
Early treatment with younger patients does not always require teeth to be pulled. Even older patients do not always need to have teeth extracted to begin orthodontic treatment. However, if the mouth is too small for all the teeth – which can result in significant crowding – or teeth are blocked by other teeth and stuck beneath the gums, then some extraction may be necessary to create space and prevent unwanted movement in the future.
It is very important to avoid certain types of foods when orthodontic braces are installed. Some raw fruits and vegetables are prone to get lodged in between the braces and the teeth and even at times loosen the brackets to a point where they may become detached. Other hard and sticky food items like carmel, taffy, hard candy, and even ice (when it’s chewed) should be avoided. In our office we have a comprehensive list of what to avoid. While this may seem restrictive, it will become second nature and worth it!
While some adjustment time may be needed, sports and instruments can be played just as before. With or without braces proper mouth protection should be followed when playing sports.
Yes! During orthodontic treatment it is more important than ever to see a dentist regularly to keep plaque off the portions of the teeth that are exposed.
Usually a retainer is necessary to ensure the teeth do not move in undesirable directions. If a retainer is not worn the teeth can move resulting in the need for another round of orthodontic treatment. We will advise on the duration a retainer needs to be worn every day.
Each orthodontic treatment is uniquely crafted for the patient and costs vary. Luckily the cost has not increased as quickly as other goods and services over the years. And financing is available. Orthodontic treatment is an investment in long-term well-being and health. When considering dealing with problematic teeth for a lifetime, orthodontic treatments are a great way to better your life.