Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Crooked teeth and teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean, are at risk of being lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain. Teeth that are crooked or not in the right place can also detract from one's appearance.
The benefits of orthodontic treatment include a healthier mouth, a more pleasing appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime.
At what age should I have orthodontic treatment?
The best time is generally during childhood, but adults can have orthodontic treatment too and more and more are doing so. Age is less important than having the right number of teeth. In children it may be necessary to wait for enough teeth to come through before starting treatment.
How is treatment carried out?
Orthodontic treatment can be done by many sorts of appliances, which most people call a 'braces'. There are two types of orthodontic treatment, using removable appliance and fix appliance. Simple treatment may be carried out with a removable brace (a plate that can be taken out to be cleaned). It has delicate wires and springs attached, which move the teeth using gentle pressure. Often, teeth need to be guided more accurately than they can be using a removable braces. So a fixed braces is used. This has brackets and bands which are temporarily stuck to the teeth. A flexible wire joins all the brackets and allows the teeth to be moved. You can't take the appliance out yourself, so it is called a fixed appliance.
Fix appliance procedure
- Placement of orthodontic brackets.
- The orthodontic wire and orthodontic brackets are connected by elastics and stainless steel wires (ligatures).
- Regular dental visits are needed according to the instructions of the orthodontist.
- After the teeth have moved to the favourable positions, a retainer is used to hold and stabilize the teeth in these positions.
How long does a fixed orthodontic treatment take?
The overall duration lasts for about 1.5 to 3 years. The actual time needed depends on the complexity of treatment and patient cooperation.
Removable appliance procedure
- Take impressions of the teeth
- Fabricate the removable orthodontic appliance in the dental laboratory.
- Fit in the appliance in the mouth, and activate the springs or screws.
- Regular dental visits to check the tooth movements and adjust the appliance accordingly.
How long does a removable orthodontic treatment take?
The overall duration lasts for about 6 to 12 months. The actual time needed depends on the complexity of treatment and patient cooperation.
Points to note on orthodontic treatments.
When you are wearing an orthodontic appliance, extra attention towards oral hygiene is needed to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. You need to brush and if possible floss your teeth regularly. When you are wearing a removable orthodontic appliance, the appliance and teeth must be thoroughly cleaned every morning and evening before wearing it again. Leave the appliance in a cup of water when it is not used. If severe discomfort is felt when you are wearing an orthodontic appliance, consult your dentist immediately.