Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of irregularities in the jaw and teeth.
How Do Orthodontic Problems Occur and How Are They Treated?
- Most jaw irregularities (such as misaligned jaws) are generally hereditary in nature. Treatment depends on the patient’s age; if a pubescent patient has a problem with the upper or lower jaw, orthodontic treatments can be used. However, if an adult patient has serious jawbone problems then surgical procedures performed in conjunction with orthodontic treatment may be the only viable treatment solution. Jaw irregularities may also be caused by breathing through the mouth, and such patients usually have a v-shaped upper jaw.
- Using dummies and baby bottle teats for a long time, thumb-sucking and nail-biting etc. can cause orthodontic and even bone problems. These habits should be treated for as early as possible (between the ages of 7-10). Many types of apparatus can be used to break these habits if they are detected early enough. Upper jaw skeletal narrowness can be prevented with orthodontic apparatuses.
- In some cases, patients inherit their jaw from one parent and their teeth from the other. Sometimes the jaw is large while the teeth are small, causing gaps between the teeth while the reverse causes crowded teeth.
- Having a larger than normal tongue can cause gaps between teeth to widen. This is especially the case with gaps left by teeth that have been pulled out.
- Another cause of crowded teeth is the milk teeth falling out earlier or later than normal. Each milk tooth has its own time to fall out, and in cases where they fall out earlier or later the surrounding teeth may move towards the gaps, causing friction on the inner our outer curve, or even preventing adult teeth from emerging.
Is Orthodontic Treatment Suitable for Every Age?
There is no age limit when it comes to having orthodontic treatments, but a patient’s age has an influence on planning and length of treatment. Adult orthodontics has become increasingly popular across the world. It is possible to use porcelain, inurgal and even invisible, transparent brackets (for braces) to reduce aesthetic worries to a minimum.
Is Orthodontic Treatment Painful?
Definitely not! However, wires may rub against the inner cheek causing some cuts which will heal themselves in around a week and generally do not reoccur, except in rare cases where the brackets break off or the wires break, etc. Such problems can be remedied with your dentist’s intervention. Furthermore, a special type of ‘wax’ that prevents rubbing against the inner cheek is given and the patient applies it where the wires cause discomfort when they go to the dentist to seek a remedy.
Additionally, pain may be felt when biting down hard or when eating hard foods after the wires have been fitted or after check-ups. This pain disappears after 3-4 days.
Do Braces Cause Dental Decay?
Braces have been clinically proven not to cause dental decay. In fact, they protect the teeth from decay as bacteria cannot get in between the brackets and the surface of the skin. However, larger than normal amounts of bacteria build up around the brackets, meaning that there is a higher associated risk which can be removed with good oral hygiene and making sure the edges of the brackets are cleaned with care.
Can I Brush My Teeth with Fitted Braces?
You can brush your teeth as comfortably as you would without braces. There is no risk of the brackets falling off or the wires breaking while brushing but you will have to be slightly more careful when doing so. You can use specially designed orthodontic toothbrushes and specially designed tools such as rubber-tipped gum massagers and dental toothbrushes to pick out pieces of food stuck in the braces.
What Should I Pay Attention to After My Braces Have Been Fitted?
You should avoid hard foods that can cause the wires to break. Apples and pears etc. should but cut and sliced before being eaten. Fruits with seeds such as olives should have their seeds removed before eating. Avoid acidic drinks and sticky foods/snack such as marzipan and chewing gum.
How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Last For?
The length of orthodontic treatment depends on the patient’s age, type and severity of problem and the treatment method used. However, the most important factor is how well the patient follows their doctor’s recommendations. Having regular check-ups for adjustments, good oral hygiene, not often breaking brackets and wires as well as using supplied apparatuses regularly will ensure the length of treatment is as short as possible. Adding in good planning means the worst-case scenario will only be 2.5 years, with the average being 1.5 years. Extremely lucky patents will no longer have to wear braces in less than 1 year.
Are Teeth That Have Undergone Orthodontic Treatment at Risk of Further Orthodontic Problems?
Our teeth are constantly moving throughout our lives, with even normal, healthy teeth being at risk of becoming crooked, crowded etc. over time due to the pressure created by biting and clenching. Teeth that undergo orthodontic treatment need a long time to fully adjust and adapt to their new positions while the jaw bones and gums settle. To reduce the risk of complications after the braces have been removed, the patient should consider complementary procedures where braces may be fitted to the back of the teeth or the patient wears a removable retainer.