Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that is concerned with correcting the position of teeth. Orthodontic treatment generally involves wearing braces or an appliance such as a dental or orthopaedic expander.
Orthodontic consultations do not only involve looking at teeth and bite. The whole face including lip posture, smile and future growth potential are taken into consideration prior to any treatment planning.
Orthodontic treatment is often commenced around the age of 12-14 when most permanent teeth have erupted. There are however many exceptions to this. Early treatment may be required in the case of jaw growth discrepancies or damaging malocclusion particularly when permanent teeth may be damaged if treatment is not commenced.
There is no upper age limit on orthodontics. Adults may undergo treatment for anything from aesthetic improvement of a smile, improving the ability to clean a crowded mouth to improving functional position of teeth in complex reconstructions.
Treatment length for orthodontic cases may vary from a few months to a few years depending upon the complexity of the situation.
The type of orthodontic treatment used will depend on many factors. Braces may be Conventional- fixed to the outside of teeth, or Lingual-fitted to the inside or backs of teeth. Alternatively, Invisalign system may be used. Invisalign is a registered trade name for a series of clear, removable aligners that move teeth over time. Instead of wearing braces, the aligners are inserted, worn for a period of time, until the next aligner is fitted.
Occasionally, braces on their own may be insufficient to correct a bite. In more severe cases, surgical intervention may also be required to correct teeth or jaw position.
Following orthodontic treatment, a small retainer may be used to hold the teeth in their new positions while the bone stabilises.
Do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you may have with your dentist who will provide guidance. If necessary they will refer you to an orthodontist for a consultation.
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