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. This can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, 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 can be less costly than the additional care required to treat 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.
Braces for All Ages
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 twenty-one. Jaw surgery is more often required for adult orthodontic patients because their jaws are not growing. Adults also may have experienced some breakdown or loss of their teeth and bone that supports the teeth and may require periodontal treatment before, during and/or after orthodontic treatment. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable.
Children can be seen at any age in our practice to be advised by Dr. Wainwright if orthodontic treatment is required and the best time for that treatment to begin. Dr. Wainwright tries to coach all of the dentists he works with on the situations that may warrant a visit to our office, but you can visit the office independently without a referral if you'd like for an opinion on any orthodontic condition for yourself or your child. We will coach you on things that you should be watching for in your children in order to minimize the need for more serious skeletal corrections at a later age.
When treatment begins early, an 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 can simplify later treatment.
How Orthodontic Treatment Works
Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded or banded 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 with a bracket was placed around each tooth.
We use self-ligating brackets exclusively in our practice. These appliances collect less plaque and minimize friction and binding in the relationship between the bracket and wire in order to increase treatment possibilities and speed treatment time. These appliances are less noticeable than standard braces used to be, and the latest wire materials move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients than in the past.
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 six months.
Growth and Development
During growth and development of your child, there are many things you can be watching for and observing in your child, taking action when necessary.
- Make sure kids can and do breathe through their nose at all times, especially while they are sleeping. The tongue must be up in the roof of the mouth in order for proper growth and development of the upper jaw to occur. This can only happen when we breathe through our nose with our mouth closed. A referral to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor may be necessary to ensure that nasal breathing is easy for your child. Dr. Wainwright can advise you if a referral to an ENT is necessary.
- Make sure kids eat a coarse diet. Too many soft, processed foods minimize or eliminate the exercise, flexing and reactive responses in the bone that help develop proper width and dimension to the dental arches and jaws. We need to use our teeth and jaws by eating raw vegetables, chewing meats, etc. in order to develop them properly. Like anything else in our bodies, the old adage still stands, "use it or lose it".
- Make sure that kids don't form any habits. Pacifier use should be avoided or kept to an absolute minimum. Thumb or finger sucking habits should be addressed immediately upon recognition. Tongue thrusting and lip licking habits should be addressed, as well as poor tongue posture. Many times a referral to an oral myologist / speech therapist can be invaluable to help your child achieve proper oral muscular patterns, which contribute to the proper shape of the facial bones and dental arches.