What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the practice in correcting misalignments of the teeth and jaw. There are many debilitating problems associated with misalignment, for example, speech defects, difficulties chewing and difficulty maintaining adequate oral hygiene.

Here is a brief overview of some of the most common issues orthodontics successfully solves:

    Anteroposterior deviations – Common examples of anteroposterior deviations include underbite (the lower teeth are positioned further forward than upper teeth) and overbite (the upper teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth). Both of these deviations can cause difficulty articulating and chewing.

    Overcrowding – Overcrowding is one of the most common problems orthodontics address. On occasion, lack of jawbone space means adult teeth cannot erupt in alignment with existing teeth. The orthodontist is able to realign the teeth using a number of unobtrusive devices and treatments.

    Aesthetic issues – In some cases, the shape of the whole face is negatively impacted by malocclusions or a bad bite. The dentist can restructure and realign the jaw, lips and teeth to create a beautiful, even smile.

Here is a brief overview of some of the treatments a dentist may use:

Dental braces – The combination of brackets (which are affixed to each individual tooth), and an archwire (which connects each bracket) are commonly placed to gently train the teeth into proper alignment. Dental braces can be made of metal, ceramics or clear “invisible” materials.

Headgear and facemasks – These devices are generally used to correct a developmental problem, such as an overbite or an underbite. In addition to the dental braces, the dentist will design the headgear and/or facemask which fit around the head and attaches to the braces. This structure will further encourage the teeth and jawbone into alignment.

Retainers – After the dentist has realigned the teeth using dental braces, removable devices or a headgear, a retainer may then be provided to ensure that the teeth do not begin to move back toward their original positions. Retainers are generally worn until the underlying bone has reformed into the correct position.