What are some of the potential benefits of orthodontic treatment?
There are many benefits for undergoing orthodontic treatment. In addition to achieving a more attractive smile, orthodontic patients can see drastic improvements in oral health functioning, improved wear patterns and force distribution of the teeth, reduction in TMJ (jaw joint) symptoms, increased ability to maintain and clean the teeth and gums, and a possible increase in self-confidence.
What are some indications that braces may be necessary?
The jaws, facial soft tissues, and teeth all need to be accurately examined in order to determine if orthodontic treatment would be indicated in each case. Some of the common indications for orthodontic treatment include:
At what age should my child first see an orthodontist?
- thumb and finger sucking habits that continue past 6 or 7 years old;
- crowded or overlapped teeth;
- spaces between the teeth;
- buck teeth (upper front teeth excessively protrude past the lower front teeth);
- problems with chewing food;
- a deep overbite (upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth);
- an underbite (upper front teeth behind or inside the lower front teeth);
- teeth wearing excessively or unevenly;
- a lower jaw that shifts or slides to one side when biting together;
- an open-bite (upper and lower teeth do not touch or overlap)
It is recommended that children visit an orthodontist for a complete evaluation no later than the age of 7 years, according to the Canadian Association of Orthodontists (CAO).
Although in most instances, the orthodontist may discover that there are no concerns with your child’s bite at this age and opt just to monitor growth and development, there are a number of orthodontic issues that can be detected and successfully treated this early. Orthodontists are trained to recognize subtle problems with jaw growth, orofacial myology, and emerging adult teeth while some of the baby teeth are still present.
If detected early enough, sometimes simple orthodontic appliances and techniques can be utilized to correct a very complex problem if left untreated. In other words, seeing children early gives the orthodontist the opportunity to fix many issues before they become bigger concerns. Therefore, this early “interceptive” treatment can either simplify future, comprehensive orthodontic treatment later on when your child develops all of their adult teeth, or eliminate the need for braces altogether. In addition, the orthodontist can sometimes attain results that may not be possible after the jaws and teeth have finished growing.
Common goals of interceptive orthodontic treatment include:
- guiding jaw growth;
- eliminating oral habits that may be harmful to oro-facial development (ex. thumb sucking, mouth breathing);
- promotion of nasal breathing;
- correction of tongue function and rest position;
- improvement in the way the lips meet;
- guiding the eruption of permanent/adult teeth into a more favorable position;
- elimination of cross-bites (upper teeth lie on the inside of the lower teeth);
- removal of any extra teeth;
- reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth;
- improving a deep overbite that impinges on the palatal tissue;
Each child will differ in terms of their individual treatment needs. By getting an early orthodontic evaluation, you will be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, stable, and beautiful smile.
What is a Phase I treatment and what is a Phase II treatment?
Phase I orthodontic treatment, also referred to as early or interceptive treatment, is a limited treatment that is intended to correct or improve very specific treatment issues in a time-sensitive manner. This type of treatment may be recommended to correct discrepancies in the sizes of the jaws, harmful oral habits, under-bites, cross-bites, and severe dental crowding or spacing. Common examples include removable appliances to normalize jaw growth, an expander to widen the upper jaw, and myofunctional therapy to improve nasal breathing and tongue functioning. This type of treatment usually occurs between the ages of 6 and 12.
Phase II orthodontic treatment follows Phase I treatment and is more comprehensive involving the placement of full braces usually after all of the permanent/adult teeth have erupted. This type of treatment will typically take place after the age of 12.
What benefits can adult patients get from orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatments can be successful at any age. Nearly 1 in 5 orthodontic patients today are adults. Many of these patients desire a beautiful and healthy smile.
Can adults undergo orthodontic treatment?
Yes. Although orthodontic treatment was historically viewed as treatment for children, it has become very popular amongst adults over the past 20 years. Today, nearly 1 in 5 orthodontic patients today are adults.
These patients typically are looking to achieve the same benefits from orthodontics as children would, and that is to increase smile esthetics and obtain a healthy and ideally functioning oro-facial environment.
How do teeth move?
In order to gradually guide the teeth into their correct positions, tiny brackets are first bonded to your teeth. An archwire is then inserted that connects the brackets together, and small elastics (colored if you would like!) are placed to hold the wire in the bracket slot. Once the archwire is attached to your brackets, it wants to return back to its original shape. As this happens, the slight pressure that is applied causes your teeth to slowly move towards their desired locations.
Do braces hurt?
Orthodontic treatment should never be painful. However, once your braces get connected to the archwire or your appliance is activated, it may cause some initial soreness for your teeth. This initial soreness may last 1 to 4 days, but will gradually disappear as you get used to the braces. Your lips, cheeks, and tongue will also need to accommodate all the new metal in the mouth and minor irritation may develop on these areas. Again, as you get used to your new braces, these spots eventually heal over the course of a week or two.