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About Orthodontics

Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. These irregularities include misaligned, crowded, or protruded teeth, and poorly positioned jaws. Orthodontic treatment is directed toward improving dental and oral health as well as creating an attractive smile, proper bite, and aligned jaws. A pleasing smile is an important element in the development of positive self-esteem.

Orthodontists are dentists who have specialized in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. An orthodontist must complete college requirements before entering a four-year graduate program in dentistry. After dental school, a two- to three-year full-time university-based accredited orthodontic residency must be completed. By learning the biology of tooth movement, facial growth and development, and facial esthetics, orthodontists are uniquely qualified to straighten teeth and correct jaw abnormalities.
Signs that Braces May be Needed
  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth
  • Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • Upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • Spaces between the teeth
  • The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger- or thumb-sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
Causes of Orthodontic Concerns
Most orthodontic problems are inherited. Examples of these genetic problems are crowding, excess space between teeth, protruding upper teeth, extra or missing teeth, and jaw growth discrepancies.
Other orthodontic problems are acquired over time. They can be caused by thumb-sucking or finger-sucking as a child, mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, dental disease, poor dental hygiene, the early or late loss of baby (primary) teeth, accidents, poor nutrition, or medical conditions.
Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment
  • A more attractive smile
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Possible increase in self-confidence during critical development years
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long-term health of teeth and gums
  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
  • Aids in optimizing other dental treatment
How Braces Work
Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.
Duration of Orthodontic 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 other appliances is an important factor in achieving the most efficient treatment. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take as few as six months.
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