What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the dental specialty that focuses on the development,
prevention, and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite, and
jaws. Orthodontists also have specialized training in facial
abnormalities and disorders of the jaw. A parent may consult an
orthodontist after receiving a referral from their child's general
dentist. However, the American Dental Association recommends that every
child receive an orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7.
Why choose orthodontic treatment?
Any orthodontic problem may be classified as a malocclusion, or "bad
bite." The following problems may be helped or minimized with proper
- misaligned, crooked, or crowed teeth
- missing teeth
- extra teeth
- an overbite
- an underbite
- misaligned or incorrect jaw position
- a disorder of the jaw joint
At what age do braces become appropriate?
In most cases, the ideal age for braces and other orthodontic
treatments is between 10 and 14 years of age. Moving and correcting the
alignment of the teeth follows the same biological and physical process
regardless of age. However, an adult mouth must overcome
already-positioned facial bones and jaw structure. Thus, overcoming most
types of malocclusions may require more than one type of orthodontic
treatment for adults and can sometimes involve jaw surgery.
What are the different types of braces available?
Braces, also called fixed orthodontic appliances, generally come in three varieties:
- brackets, metal or plastic, clear or tooth-colored, that are bonded to teeth
- lingual-type brackets that attach to the back of teeth, hidden from view
- bands that cover most of the teeth with metal bands that wrap around the teeth
All three types use wires to move the teeth to the desired position.
Oral healthcare and braces:
The following recommendations will help to eliminate, or reduce, any
oral health problems while your child's teeth are in braces:
- Make certain that your child is brushing his/her teeth carefully
after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled
toothbrush, as food becomes easily lodged in the braces.
- Make certain that your child is flossing daily between the teeth and the braces.
- Maintain every six month cleanings by your child's dentist or orthodontist, or as recommended.
- Limit your child's sugar and starch intake, as debris left behind
from these types of foods may turn into damaging acids, which may be
harmful to teeth and gums and promote plaque formation.
- Avoid hard and/or sticky snacks that may be difficult to remove from
the orthodontic equipment in your child's mouth. This includes foods
such as popcorn, hard or chew candy, caramel, and/or nuts.