It is the branch of dentistry that deals with the correction of teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Crooked teeth and teeth that are not placed together properly are harder to keep clean, and thus they are at risk of being lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain.
Need for Orthodontics.
If you have any of the following, you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment:
Overbite, sometimes called "buck teeth" - Here the upper front teeth lie too far forward (stick out) over the lower teeth
How Does Orthodontic Treatment Work?There are number of appliances, both fixed and removable, that are used to help move teeth, retrain muscles and affect the growth of the jaws. These appliances work by placing gentle pressure on the teeth and jaws. The severity of your problem will determine which orthodontic approach suits you the best .
Fixed appliances include:
Braces - It is the most common fixed appliances. Braces consist of bands, wires and/or brackets. Bands are fixed around the teeth or tooth and used as anchors for the appliance, while brackets are most often bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires are passed through the brackets and attached to the bands. Tightening the arch wire puts tension on the teeth, gradually moving them to their proper position. Braces are usually adjusted monthly to bring about the desired results, which may be achieved within a few months to a few years. Today's braces are smaller, lighter and show far less metal than in the past. They come in bright colors for kids as well as clear styles preferred by many adults
Special fixed appliances - used to control thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, these appliances are attached to the teeth by bands. Because they are very uncomfortable during meals, they should be used only as a last resort.
Fixed space maintainers - if a baby tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer is used to keep the space open until the permanent tooth erupts. A band is attached to the tooth next to the empty space, and a wire is extended to the tooth on the other side of the space.
Removable appliances include:
Aligners - an alternative to traditional braces for adults, serial aligners are being used by an increasing number of orthodontists to move teeth in the same way that fixed appliances work, only without metal wires and brackets. Aligners are virtually invisible and are removed for eating, brushing and flossing.
Is the treatment very painful?
The treatment is certainly not painless, but the pain is mild and lasts from 3 to 7 days after a visit to the Orthodontist. After this, there is no pain. During subsequent adjustments or wire changes, there may be mild pain.
Recent advances in Orthodontics have made treatment far more comfortable. The braces become a part of you, just like a pair of spectacles.
Can I continue to eat my favorite foods? Do I have to modify my diet?
You can continue to eat your favorite foods but they will have to be prepared specially. Your food will have to be softened, or cut into small pieces, or be well-cooked before eating. Ice creams and colas may be had as usual but corn will have to be sliced off the cob, hard fruits will need to be sliced, nuts and chikki ground and chocolate must not be eaten after refrigeration.
Foods that are best avoided are popcorn, sticky chocolates, hard nuts and fruits, hard crusts and chewing gum. These foods can break or loosen your braces making you uncomfortable and can delay treatment.
How should I clean my teeth now?
Brushing with braces on your teeth requires a little more effort than, if you didn’t have any.
» Use of a soft bristled toothbrush or an orthodontic toothbrush.
» Brush twice a day in gentle circular motions with special emphasis to dislodge food that is lodged between teeth and the braces. Use a mouthwash to rinse additionally.
» Never allow plaque or food to accumulate on the teeth and braces.
You may have to wear small elastic bands which you change regularly. Some treatment requires a retractor or head gear, a lip bumper and other functional appliances which your orthodontist will show you how to use. Report any untoward change or damage of the braces immediately.
Does this treatment affect my performance at school/work/sports?
Not at all. You will only need to take reasonable care of your braces during contact sports like boxing, football, hockey, cricket, etc. to prevent damage to the braces and injury to the teeth and lips.