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Braces (Orthodontics)

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Braces often have benefits beyond the positive physical changes - like straighter teeth and an improved bite. One of those benefits is frequently improved self-image. Having beautiful teeth is nice, of course, but getting rid of health problems associated with teeth or jaw issues is even better. When teeth are crooked or the jaw does not align properly, that can lead to improper teeth cleaning and in turn to decay, gum disease and eventually loss of all teeth. Untreated orthodontic problems can also lead to chewing and digestion issues, speech impediments and unnecessary wear on tooth surfaces. Over the years, it can cause strain on gums and on the bone that holds the teeth in as well as the jaw joints, causing problems like headaches as well as neck and face pain.

According to the American Association of Orthodontics, children need to have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. While an assessment can be done at any age, doing it early can catch potential problems before they negatively impact dental health.

Given the numerous advances in orthodontics, dealing with braces has never been easier or less cumbersome. Modern, technologically advanced treatment choices and appliances are available now, including tried-and-true traditional braces, clear braces or tooth-colored brackets and even NASA-designed heat-activated wires that don’t have to be adjusted as often. Some patients are good candidates for Invisalign, a way of straightening teeth that uses clear aligners similar to retainers and does not require the installation of brackets, braces or wires.

We can discuss treatment options with you and determine what actions are needed to make your smile beautiful and healthy.

Reasons for braces or other orthodontic treatments for adults and children:
  • Swallowing or breathing problems: Having to breath through only the mouth can result in snoring, sleep apnea and other avoidable problems.
  • Crossbite: When one or more of the upper teeth bite down inside lower teeth toward the tongue, action should be taken to correct the issue.
  • Crowding. This condition that results from extra or malpositioned teeth needs to be corrected for better biting.
  • Deep overbite. When the lower teeth in front bite into the upper tissue, something must be done to prevent injury.
  • Disfiguring of the mouth or face. This can impact the development of the jaw bone and joints as well as teeth positioning but can often be corrected.
  • Jaw joint pain. This pain is not normal and can be corrected through orthodontic treatment in many cases.
  • Extra or missing teeth. Whether from decay, injury or an inherited condition, improvement may be possible.
  • Protruding upper teeth. Called overjet, this is often associated with a shorter than usual lower jaw.
  • Self-esteem issues. Boosting a low self-image and generating better self-confidence is possible when teeth issues are corrected.
  • Gaps between teeth. This can result from missing teeth or simply when spacing is smaller or larger than usual.
  • Chewing, biting or speech problems. These don’t have to persist and can often be addressed effectively.
  • Underbite. A lower jaw that is longer than the upper jaw is the definition of this condition.

Additional issues in children:
Thumb or finger sucking. This habit can sometimes lead to protrusion of some upper teeth and to mouth breathing. Out-of-position teeth eruption. While this can be a natural occurrence, the teeth can be guided into proper alignment.

What steps are involved in orthodontic treatment?
  1. Planning. The first visit for orthodontic treatment involves taking a medial and dental history, taking molds or casts of teeth, creating computer-generated images of the head and neck, taking actual photos and taking x-rays.
  2. Activity. This involves dealing with the orthodontist at regular intervals for adjustments and maintaining careful adherence to a specific treatment plan to make sure that the prescribed program is complete successful.
  3. Retention. Once treatment is over, the braces or other appliances are removed and a different appliance is made. This is usually a removable retainer that can maintain changes to teeth if worn continuously for as long as indicated to make sure teeth and bone are stable and set into their new positions. Activity and retention times can vary based on many different factors, but don’t worry: your orthodontist will make sure everything works out so that your smile will last a lifetime.

To find out how braces can work for you, call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS.