Orthodontics and orthodontic treatment are related to teeth. The first part of the word basically hints at what it is all about. ‘Orthos’ in Greek means ‘straight, proper or perfect’ and orthodontics is that branch of dentistry which aims at giving you, believe it or not, a proper or perfect bite.
To put it into medical terms, orthodontics deals with diagnosing the problem and using methods to prevent and correct any problem of the alignment of teeth and jaws or ‘malocclusion’, the ‘improper bite’.
Treatment For Orthodontic
To correct problems of teeth and jaw what the doctors do is correct the setting or ‘alignment’ of the teeth or the disproportionate jaw and sometimes both. This is what orthodontic treatment is all about. But what you actually get along with a proper bite is a proper smile. If your teeth are sparkling white, then that smile can be even better.
For such treatment the orthodontist may take the help of various appliances like braces, plates, etc. To know more about such treatment we may take a look at what problems are taken care of by such treatment; when to go for such treatment; how the treatment progresses; what are usually the results and how long does it take to show results.
Problems to Fix with Orthodontic Treatment
The commonest orthodontic problems are related to alignment of teeth and problems related to bites. Protruding, crowded and spaced-out teeth are often the main problems with teeth.
The less occurring problems are missing tooth, impacted teeth or ectopic teeth. The problems related to bite usually are results of non-alignment of jaws and termed open bite, cross bite, under bite and deep bite.
When to Go for Orthodontic Treatment?
This is a vital question. When should you go to an orthodontist? Orthodontic problems are seen very early in life when most of the adult teeth have shown themselves. Such problems may start appearing by the age of seven in most cases. However, some cases can occur earlier or later. Generally the best time to start orthodontic treatment is around the time when the last baby tooth falls off.
Once such treatments were applicable to children only but now adults are also trying out these treatments to align their teeth. But they may not get the results like children because their bones have stopped growing. In those cases, surgery can sometimes correct the problems.
How does Orthodontic Treatment Progress?
Normally it is advised that a child should be taken to a dentist regularly for general dental check up. If the child is suffering from any kind of alignment problem, then the dentist can easily identify it and suggest measure.
If the child is detected with some kind of malocclusion, then an orthodontist takes over, if the dentist is not trained in such matters. Or else orthodontic treatment can be done by your child’s dentist. Generally the treatment goes through a few steps like making plaster casts, taking photographs or x-rays for keeping record of the progress of treatment, planning the treatment, making the preliminary arrangements and finally using a suitable appliance.
What Appliances are used in Orthodontic Treatment?
The commonest of all appliances used in orthodontic treatments are the Braces. These consist of brackets, archwires, ligatures and bands and are considered the most effective appliance for aligning teeth. Another variation of these braces is lingual braces and these are mostly used by patients to avoid the visibility of the braces.
The functional appliances are used to align the jaws and usually work by modifying and guiding the position during the growth period of a patient. Headgears are used in severe cases of malocclusion when both the teeth and jaws need to be aligned.
To achieve the desired movement of the teeth during orthodontic treatment, elastic is used at suitable positions to restrict teeth movement. There are also removable appliances but they are not as effective as the fixed ones. Finally there are the retainers which take care of the teeth after removal of the braces till the teeth finally settle into position permanently.
How long does Orthodontic Treatment take?
Normally orthodontic treatment takes about 1½ to 2 years to show the desired results. But some easier cases can be done in less time while the difficult cases can take more time. Much depends on how the patient co-operates. So it is very important that the patient should do as the orthodontist tells her or him for a faster result.
Risk Associated with Orthodontic Treatment
Like any other medical treatment, orthodontic treatment also has its risks. But the good news is that often such risks never materialize or if they do they are easily controlled. The main factors which are to be taken care of for a hassle free treatment period include oral hygiene, the right kind of diet, loosening or displacement of appliances and level of discomfort in the patient, etc.