Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints. These can lead to chronic headaches and face or neck pain. Orthodontist treatment can be less costly than the additional care required to treat dental problems arising as a result of orthodontic problems. For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit from orthodontics. After your braces come off, you’ll feel more self-confidence and social acceptance.
Braces for All Ages
It’s best for children to see the orthodontist by age 7 to advise if orthodontic treatment is required and the best time for the patient to be treated. The first permanent molars and incisors have usually come in by that time and crossbites, crowding and other problems can be evaluated. When treatment is begun early, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaw and guide incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions and reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth. Early treatment can help to stop thumb sucking habits, and may eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. This early phase of treatment is called Phase I or early interceptive treatment. Second phase treatment, or comprehensive treatment, consists of finishing alignment and bite of the newly erupted adult teeth. This occurs usually between the ages of 11 and 13. After Phase II, the retention phase begins.
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. One of every five patients in orthodontic treatment is over 21. Jaw surgery may be required for adult orthodontic patients because their jaws are not growing. Adults also may have experienced some breakdown or loss of their teeth and bone that supports the teeth and may require periodontal treatment before, during and /or after orthodontic treatment. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable. Many of our adult patients are in orthodontic treatment prior to restorative or cosmetic dental procedures. In order to get the best aesthetic and functional result with restorative dentistry, orthodontics may be necessary first. Creating room for implants or aligning the bite so that veneers and crowns are sized and fit properly builds stability into restorative dentistry. Many times an ideal restorative dental result requires orthodontics initially. Dr. Hunt works in close concert with your general dentist, periodontist, and oral surgeon to make sure that you receive the result that your dental team has planned for you.
How Orthodontic Treatment Works
Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to a corrected position. This is a great time to wear braces! Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around every tooth. You can choose brackets that are clear or metallic in color. You can choose the color of the ties that hold the wire in brackets. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients.
Duration of Treatment
Treatment time typically ranges from one to three years, depending on the growth of the patient’s mouth and face and the severity of the problem. Patients grow at different rates and will respond variously to orthodontic treatment, so the time to case completion may differ from the original estimate. The patient’s diligent use of any prescribed rubber bands or headgear is an important factor in achieving the most efficient treatment. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may last from six to fifteen months.