Orthodontics is one of many dental specialties. The word “orthodontics” is derived from the Greek words orthos, meaning proper or straight and odons meaning teeth. Orthodontics is specifically concerned with diagnosing and treating tooth misalignment and irregularity in the jaw area. Initially, orthodontic treatments were geared toward the treatment of teens and pre-teens, but now around 30 percent of orthodontic patients are adults.
There are many advantages to well-aligned teeth, including easier cleaning, clearer speech, decreased risk of trauma, decreased tooth wear, and a more pleasant smile. Though orthodontic treatment can be effective at any age, the American Dental Association suggests that an orthodontic assessment be performed around the age of seven. The earlier orthodontic treatment begins in specific circumstances, the quicker and less invasive the problem can be resolved.
What problems can be treated with orthodontics?
Here are some of the common conditions treated with orthodontics:
What are some orthodontic solutions?
When a diagnosis has been made, there are a variety of treatment options available:
- Braces – Braces are comprised of brackets that are affixed to each individual tooth with an archwire that connects the brackets. The brackets are usually metal, ceramic, or a clear synthetic material.
- Invisalign® – Invisalign® aligners are clear trays that are worn for the recommended amount of time each day. Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.
- Expanders – Expanders can help widen your child’s palate and/or jaw to create more space for your child’s teeth. This can help ensure their permanent teeth come in without crowding problems. It can also help your orthodontist optimize their bite without removing teeth or jaw surgery.
- Headgear/Reverse Pull Headgear – Headgear/reverse pull headgear are orthodontic appliances that, if used at the right age and for enough time, can help guide and correct improper jaw growth to ensure the upper and lower jaw are in functionally optimal position.
- Functional Appliances – Functional appliances include a group of orthodontic appliances that can also aid in promoting proper jaw growth to ensure the top and bottom jaw grow in more optimal alignment.
- Retainers – Wearing retainer/s as prescribed by your orthodontist is very important, and ensures that your child's teeth will maintain their proper position after active treatment is complete.