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Problematic bites from teeth.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is actually a field of dentistry that meant to address problematic bites that may be caused by malpositioning of teeth (a.k.a. “crooked teeth”) or abnormal growth of bone in the face, particularly the jaws.
Besides aesthetics, malpositioned teeth can affect function and even cause problems in surrounding structures, such as the gums and the joint that articulates the upper and lower jaw – the temporomandibular joint.
What is a malocclusion?
A malocclusion is a general term used to describe any abnormality in an individual’s bite. This may be caused by a problem with the arrangement of the teeth or by abnormal growth of bone in the face.
Generally, there are three ways to classify a malocclusion, although there are subclassifications to these.
- A class I malocclusion is the most acceptable positioning of teeth and bones. This is best described by a straight line formed from the forehead, upper and lower lips when seen from an individual’s facial profile.
- A class II malocclusion occurs when there is a protrusion of the upper jaw. This can be seen when the upper lip is placed more forward than the upper lip as seen from an individual’s facial profile.
- A class III malocclusion occurs when there is a protrusion of the lower jaw. This can be seen when the lower lip is placed more forward than the upper lip as seen from an individual’s facial profile.
The field of orthodontics is meant to address these forms of malocclusion. Treatment may be preventive, otherwise known as interceptive orthodontics, or it may address an immediate problem as it is presented.
What is interceptive orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatment doesn’t necessarily have to start during pre-puberty, puberty or even adulthood. An individual’s tendency to develop a malocclusion may be seen as soon as the temporary teeth erupt in a child.
When a dentist begins to notice a pattern that may lead to malocclusion, he may suggest treatment through a series of extractions of the temporary teeth. This is done in order to address future problems of crowding of teeth in the jaws.
If the dentist sees that the child has the tendency to develop a class II or II malocclusion, he may recommend the use of functional appliances such as trainers for kids (T4Ks), face masks, expanders and other similar appliances. This will, of course, depend on the child’s case.
You may want to check out this link to know more about these appliances.
What about braces and retainers?
Everyone is probably familiar with braces. These are appliances which best define orthodontics. These make use of wires and “brackets” (the word for those little metal or tooth-colored square pegs that are attached to the teeth) to move the teeth into proper position. There are different systems and techniques that are used by orthodontists when using braces. Each will have its own purpose, as well as its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
In addition to the braces that people are familiar with, dentists nowadays have started to introduce orthodontic implants as part of the orthodontic system that they use. The implants, otherwise called “TADS”, are placed on certain areas of the bone in order to serve as an anchor during tooth movement in orthodontic treatment. Unlike implants used for dental prostheses, these implants are temporary and are removed once orthodontic correction is accomplished.
Retainers are appliances after orthodontic treatment is done in order to maintain corrections that were made by the orthodontist. There are also different by which retention is done.
It would probably be best to talk with your dentist so you can get further details about the technique that he plans to use.
Recent years have shown the development of yet another system of tooth alignment, You may have heard of the term Invisalign, Fastbraces or Smile Direct. These are all systems that fall under teeth aligners.
These systems are quite good for correcting mild to moderate malpositioning of teeth that are not caused by malocclusions involving abnormal growth of either the upper or lower jaw.
The use of teeth aligners is highly case selective. Not all malocclusions can be addressed by the use of these systems.
Again, to know if you can qualify for the use of these appliances, it would be best to consult with your dentist so you can get his recommendations.