It is commonly observed that people with crooked teeth, or asymmetrical facial profiles, are treated differently because of their appearance. Some of this may be due to the appearance alone, and it can partially be caused by their own different attitude based on a lowered self-esteem. These people are often ashamed of their looks, and tend to be afraid of going out and socializing.
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry involved in the prevention, detection, and management of such irregularities of the teeth, as well as the maxillofacial unevenness.
The Role of Orthodontics in Oral Health
It is commonly said that a healthy mouth leads to a healthy body. Individuals with misaligned or improperly positioned teeth, not only have problems in keeping a good dental hygiene, but can have difficulties in mastication and digestion of food.
While poor oral hygiene caused by malocclusion can lead to several dental problems such as gingival and periodontal inflammation, the inability to properly chew food may result in various medical conditions, such as indigestion and gastric ulceration. Another vital role of orthodontics is in the correction of abnormal oral habits, such as mouth breathing, thumb sucking, and bruxism, which are precursors to various medical and dental conditions, and must be corrected as soon as possible.
What Does An Orthodontist Do?
An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and management of orthodontic problems. Orthodontic therapy is carried out with the help of various dental appliances, used to perform the following main functions:
• Correction of misaligned teeth, also known as malocclusion
• Correction of “bad bite”
• Correction of unpleasant gaps between the teeth
• Correction of facial asymmetry
• Correction of abnormal dental habits
While most of the problems related to malocclusion, and improper facial symmetry, are genetic in nature, traumatic childhood dental injuries of the maxillofacial region can also cause emergence of these orthodontic problems.
Treatment of Orthodontic Problems
As discussed previously, orthodontic therapy involves multiple approaches. The American Association of Orthodontists recommend that every child visit an orthodontist, to get an orthodontic screening. The purpose of this screening is to detect any underlying or developing orthodontic problems, and to treat them in a timely manner, by provision of functional appliances, which redirect the maxillofacial growth patterns to correct dental deformities.
In case early detection was not possible, active orthodontic appliances are used. Removable appliances are usually used in mild cases, or when patient’s compliance to wearing instruction is not an issue.
Alternatively, fixed appliances can be used; the most common among them are dental braces. These dental appliances are bonded to the teeth, and with the help of orthodontic wires, apply forces to the teeth to cause tooth movement. Braces are usually reserved for more complex cases, and are also indicated for un-cooperative patients who cannot care for a removable appliance.
In cases of extremely complex or recurring cases, surgical approach can also be considered. The maxillofacial bony tissues are surgically repositioned to attain a balanced occlusion and facial profile.
Stages of Orthodontic Therapy
Orthodontic therapy consists of two phases:
• An active phase, which involves the correction of the dental problem.
• A passive phase, which ensures the teeth and facial structures remain in their corrected positions. Removable or fixed retainers are used for this purpose, and are worn till the dental structures firmly attain their new positions.
What is the Duration of Orthodontic Therapy?
Simple cases are usually treated within 3-6 months; however, more complex cases may take 6 months to a year for complete management. Retention is provided for another 2-3 months to prevent reversal of treatment.
We Can Help
As our reviews can support, Dr. Marchbanks and all of us at our Arlington office have been performing high quality Orthodontic therapy for patients for many years. Our experience and professionalism can make for a positive and smooth completion to your orthodontic needs. Give us a call today so we can answer any questions you may have and get you started on your journey to a healthier, happier lifestyle.