Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of malocclusion or malpositioned teeth and jaws. Orthodontic treatment is required for:
- Closing unsightly gaps between teeth.
- Properly aligning the tips of teeth.
- Straightening crooked teeth.
- Improving speech and chewing ability.
- Improving oral hygiene and health of gums and teeth.
- Preventing premature wear and tear of teeth.
- Treating underbite, overbite, crossbite, and more.
Correct alignment of teeth and jaws is necessary for both oral and overall health. Timely alignment of malpositioned teeth and jaws prevent the need for complex dental treatments (jaw surgery) in the future. Orthodontic treatments not only improve the functionality of the oral cavity but also enhance the aesthetic appeal of the facial structure.
What are the different services available under orthodontics?
Orthodontic services for kids
Orthodontic visits for kids should be scheduled as soon as they turn six years old. During this time, the child is still growing and has developed the correct number of permanent to enable the dentist to determine the presence and risk of orthodontic issues. Orthodontic services for kids involve the following:
- Diagnostic services using digital and panoramic X-rays to determine the child's bite, jaw development, presence of impacted teeth, overcrowding, and more.
- Determine the presence of harmful oral habits like thumb-sucking, prolonged use of pacifiers, tongue thrusting, and more. These habits need to be nipped in the bud or else they cause serious orthodontic problems in the future.
- Guide permanent teeth and jaws into their ideal position using space maintainers, lingual bars and palatal expanders.
- When children lose their baby teeth prematurely, space maintainers maintain the gap left by the premature loss of a baby tooth and prevent the adjacent teeth from drifting into the gap. They are removed when the permanent tooth is about to erupt through the gums.
- Some children have small dental arches that cannot accommodate all permanent teeth. As a result, they suffer from crossbite and overcrowding. Palatal expanders widen the upper dental arch in children and create more room for permanent teeth.
- Lingual bars widen the lower dental arch in children and create more room for permanent teeth.
Orthodontic services for teens and adults
While orthodontics for kids is preventative in nature, orthodontics for teens and adults is mostly corrective. During this stage, the orthodontic services aim at eliminating problems like malocclusion, overcrowding, gaps between teeth and more. The services available are:
Crooked teeth are unhealthy and need to be straightened. Braces are the most popular orthodontic device used to treat mild to severe orthodontic issues. They use brackets, bonded to the topical or back surface of teeth, and wires, connected to the brackets, to apply force on teeth and gradually push them into their ideal position. Depending on the patient's unique requirements, the dentist will provide you with any of the following braces:
- Metal braces
- Ceramic braces
- Damon braces
- Lingual braces
Invisalign offers an aesthetic replacement to traditional braces and straightens teeth without incorporating the use of metallic wires and brackets. It employs thermoplastic-based, virtually invisible aligners to gradually push teeth to their ideal
position. Invisalign can treat mild to moderate orthodontic problems and improve the alignment of the teeth and jaws.
While orthodontic devices like braces and aligners push teeth into their ideal position, retainers hold these teeth in their new position and prevent them from shifting back to their old, crooked position. Retainers are worn during the night and can be removed during the day.
When the force applied by braces is not enough to shift the teeth into their ideal position, headgear is used. It is an appliance that is fastened to the braces and is strapped around the head. The headgear helps in pulling the teeth into position by increasing the amount of force applied. It is worn at night while sleeping.
At Murray Dental Care of Cupertino, our entire team of dentists and hygienists is committed to providing supreme quality dental care to our patients and their families. If you are inclined towards taking the first steps to improve your dental health and hygiene, call us at (408) 253-5277 to book an appointment.