Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain and can result in tooth decay and lead to gum disease or tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to the abnormal wearing of teeth: inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints. These can lead to chronic headaches and face or neck pain.
Treatment by an orthodontist not only helps you avoid many of these issues, it can be less costly than the additional care required for treating dental problems arising as a result of orthodontic problems.
For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. After your braces come off, you’ll feel more self-confident.
Orthodontics for Children
Dr. Pocock, the Canadian Association of Orthodontics and the American Association of Orthodontics recommend the first orthodontic screening by age seven to advise if orthodontic treatment is required and the best time for that patient to be treated. The first permanent molars and incisors have usually come in by that time and cross bites, crowding and other problems can be evaluated. When treatment is initiated at an early age, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaw and guide incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb-sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment will simplify later treatment.
Orthodontics for Adults
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. One of every five patients in orthodontic treatment is over 21. Adults may have experienced some breakdown or loss of their teeth and bone that supports the teeth and may require periodontal treatment before, during or after orthodontic treatment. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable.
How Orthodontic Braces Work
Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic or acrylic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to a corrected position. This is a great time to wear braces! Gone are the days when a metal band was placed around each tooth. You can choose brackets that are clear or metallic color. You can choose the color of the ties that hold the wire in brackets. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients.
Duration of Treatment
Treatment time typically ranges from one to three years, depending on the growth of the patient’s mouth and face and the severity of the problem. Patients grow at different rates and will respond variously to orthodontic treatment, so the time to case completion may differ from the original estimate. The patient’s diligent use of any prescribed rubber bands or headgear is an important factor in achieving the most efficient treatment. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take as few as nine months.