Orthodontics is a Greek word, where orthos mean “straight or perfect” and dontos mean “teeth”. Word itself explains its meaning i.e. straightening the teeth. Orthodontics is a subdivision in dentistry which emphasizes on teeth alignment and an ‘orthodontist’ is a specialist in orthodontics. An orthodontist customs a variety of dental devices to ensure the following:
· Reducing gaps between teeth.
· Aligning teeth and lips at proper position.
· Aligning teeth tips.
· Improving oral functioning i.e. speech and eat functions.
· Leveling of crooked teeth.
· Correcting an improper bite.
· Improving the health of teeth and gums.
Options in orthodontics:
There are two types of dental appliances to diagnose, prevent and treat these irregularities- fixed and removable orthodontic appliances.
Fixed orthodontic appliances:
It is the most common and economical option to go with. It aims at precision. These are used for treating major problems. Examples of fixed orthodontic appliances are:
1. Braces: It consists of brackets, elastic band and an arch wire. An arch wire passes through the brackets are fixed to the bands. As the arch wire tightens, the tension is applied to the teeth which move them into proper position over time. It takes 1-2 years to get adjusted. Orthodontist adjusts the wire every 4-6 weeks to bring the desired result.
2. Fixed space maintainers: A device placed to preserve space created by premature loss of teeth.
3. Special fixed appliances: These appliances are recommended by experts for controlling tongue thrusting or thumb sucking. They are uncomfortable and are not suggested until seems an actual necessity for patient.
Removable orthodontic appliances:
Appliances that are not fixed and can be removed by the patient according to his convenience are removable appliances. These are used to treat minor problems. Examples of removable orthodontic appliances are:
1. Headgear: These are complex looking devices which consist of thicker wires extending outside mouth with straps behind neck or over chin. It aims at slowing down upper jaw’s growth by keeping the back teeth in position and pulling front ones back. It is worn for 12 hours a day for a very limited time.
2. Aligners: It consists of an ordered clear and removable tray to fit over the teeth to align them. They are almost unnoticeable and can be taken out while brushing, flossing or eating. Patients wear different trays for different period of time to get their teeth aligned.
3. Lip and cheek bumpers: It consists of a wire on the lower jaw extending from one molar to another that retains lips and cheeks from touching teeth. This is helpful in cases of overcrowded teeth.
4. Palatal expander: It helps in expanding the palatal area. A plastic plate is placed in the palate and these plates have screws which put pressure on the joints in bones, forcing them and thus expanding the area.
5. Removable retainers: They hold the teeth in place so that they do not shift back to their previous positions. They are placed once the braces come off.
6. Splints: Patient has to wear splints for the full day except while eating. It is an acrylic wafer which fits over the top of the lower teeth to modify the way the upper and lower jaw fits.
Though treatment methods are tailored but most people wear braces from one to three years. This entirely depends on individual needs and situation of teeth. You can find out your option by visiting our dental clinic in San Diego.