Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that diagnoses, prevents and treats irregularities of the teeth, jaws and the face. Our objective in today’s orthodontics is a well-proportioned face and esthetically pleasing stable dentition.
Crowded teeth are difficult to clean and maintain. This may lead to an increased rate of cavities, gum disease and eventual tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal tooth wear and misalignment of jaw joints resulting in chronic headaches. When left untreated, many orthodontic problems become worse.
Treatment of the original problem is often easier, faster and less costly than treatment of more serious problems that develop in later years.
Functional orthodontics is a progressive orthodontic treatment that works with your body’s growth and development to give beautiful, healthy smiles. Proper tongue and jaw positions are created to eliminate negative forces on the teeth. Functional orthodontics treats problems early, when irregularities are first recognized, and utilizes muscles of chewing to promote proper growth of the jaw and teeth. Often space is created for the teeth to fit in, which results in fewer extractions and broader, attractive smiles.
Functional orthodontics utilizes two kinds of appliances in most treatments. First, the upper and lower jaws are aligned by the use of a functional (removable) appliance. These are made of a combination of plastic and wires, similar to a retainer but much more powerful. Then standard (fixed) braces are used to align the individual teeth.
The long-term results of functional orthodontics tend to be very stable and aesthetically pleasing. See for yourself using the pictures of the twins on the right.
Mapping Out Your Orthodontic Treatment
Just like using a map to get to our weekend destination, we need to use a treatment plan to take our patients to a “Healthy Smile” destination. Your personalized treatment plan is a guide. It helps to take us where we want to go.
In order to determine the best course of treatment, we will need orthodontic study records. They include medical/dental history, clinical examination, plaster study models, photographs of your face and teeth, a panoramic x-ray, and a facial profile x-ray. All of these records will help us to present our orthodontic journey to you in detail.
How Do Braces Feel?
Most people have some discomfort after their braces are first placed or when adjusted during treatment. After the braces are on, teeth may become sore and may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Patients can usually manage this discomfort well with whatever pain medication they might commonly take for a headache. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. Overall, orthodontic discomfort is short-lived and easily managed.
Functional removable appliances cause very little discomfort. A period of a couple days is required to adjust your eating and speaking with the functional appliance.
Special Care During Orthodontic Treatment
One of the main advantages of removable appliances is easy oral hygiene. The appliance can be cleaned out of the mouth, with toothbrush and toothpaste. Teeth and gums are brushed and flossed as usual with the appliance out of the mouth.
Do Teeth With Braces Need Special Care?
Patients with fixed braces must be careful to avoid hard and sticky foods. They must not chew on pens, pencils or fingernails because chewing on hard things can damage the braces. Damaged braces will almost always cause treatment to take longer, and will require extra trips to our office.
Keeping the teeth and braces clean requires more precision and time, and must be done every day. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the hygienist for a professional cleaning.
To assist in this, we will teach you how to best care for your teeth and appliances. Learning how often to brush and floss, and having some other suggestions for cleaning aids will help you maintain good dental health.
How Important is Patient Cooperation During Orthodontic Treatment?
Successful orthodontic treatment is a “two-way street” that requires a consistent, cooperative effort by both the dentist and patient. To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must carefully clean their teeth, wear appliances and elastics, and keep appointments as scheduled. Damaged appliances can lengthen the treatment time and may undesirably affect the outcome of treatment. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their desired positions if the patient consistently wears the aids which are applying forces to the teeth.
There are two basic groups of retaining devices – removable types that can be removed by the patient, and fixed types that are designed not to be removed by the patient
Retainer use is an important part of orthodontic treatment. Teeth continue to move throughout your lifetime until they reach a point of stability with the lips, cheeks, tongue, bite and function. Ideally through orthodontics, that ends up being a position that allows the teeth to look good as well as function properly.
In the end, orthodontic treatment is not for the dentist and not for the parents, but solely for the patient. The successful results will benefit both the patient’s oral heath and self-confidence for the rest of their life.