Orthodontics is about straightening teeth and so much more!
Many of us think of the skill and services that an orthodontist provides is merely placing metal braces or using plastic-like trays such as Invisalign to straighten teeth. But adults, children, and teenagers have a wide range of different types of alignment and spacing issues and orthodontists end up utilizing their education and years of experience in using different types of appliances to provide a beautiful-looking and healthy smile.
Orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that treats many conditions but focuses primarily on malocclusion, a condition in which the teeth are not correctly positioned or aligned when the mouth is closed. This condition results in an improper bite and a skilled orthodontist’s primary focus is to improve the bite and overall oral function. If you or your child are experiencing any of these issues, your orthodontist will address them:
• Closing wide gaps between the teeth
• Aligning the tips of the teeth
• Straightening crooked teeth
• Improving speech or chewing ability
• Boosting the long-term health of gums and teeth
• Preventing long-term excessive wear or trauma of the teeth
• Treating an improper bite
While orthodontic treatment can improve the appearance of the teeth, it can also lead to better chewing and speech function and help protect teeth from damage or decay. To achieve these goals, the orthodontist uses a range of medical dental devices, including headgear, plates, and braces.
There are so many variables that impact orthodontic treatment. For instance, timing is everything, especially when it comes to your child’s orthodontic treatment. Early orthodontic exams as the face and jaws are developing, allow your orthodontist to advise you on whether treatment is recommended, what it will take and estimate the length of time. But don’t worry, if your child is a young adult – it’s not too late!
After an initial and thorough consultation and assessment, a customized care and treatment plan will be created to address your specific concerns and help you achieve the desired results. Based on your needs, the orthodontist could work with any single or combination of the following appliances:
• Separators: Works on making space between your back teeth so that brace bands or rings can be placed on your molars
• Expanders: Works on widening the upper arch of children and young adults. It’s placed in the roof of the mouth and can be worn for approximately 9 months. Parents and/or guardians will be helping by using a “key” to turn the expander each night. Each turn widens the mouth and provides the space for correct alignment.
• Space Maintainers: Works on keeping a gap open if a baby tooth falls out prematurely. It allows for the proper time for an adult tooth to fill the space. They are also used to maintain position of current permanent teeth while waiting for other baby teeth to fall out.
• Mara Appliance: If you’re told that your upper jaw overlaps or extends beyond your lower jaw (overbite), you’re more than likely going to wear one of these. This appliance promotes forward growth of the lower jaw.
• Braces: Works on straightening and aligning all the teeth. Depending on severity of the original case and compliance from the patient with keeping up with appointments, the duration can vary but typically is approximately 18-24 months
• Rubber Bands: Works on achieving correct alignment between the upper and lower arches. The rubber bands are placed on little hooks on the braces themselves
• Headgear: Works on correcting an under or overbite. Depending on your individual needs – the time could be one to two years.
• Tongue Cribs: Works on stopping tongue thrust or thumb sucking. This can be worn until the habit is stopped.
• Retainers: Works on keeping teeth in their new position after the braces or tray treatment is completed. The retainers will most likely be worn 24/7 for the first year and then nightly after that. It’s so important to be committed to wearing retainers to protect the investment you’ve put into it during treatment.
• Splints: Works on relieving discomfort from TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). This treatment could differ in time based on the original severity of the case.
As you can see, there is a wide range of treatment options based on the issues presented at time of the consult. Your orthodontist will ask you pertinent questions about your oral and general health history, he or she will use intra oral photos as well as x-rays and panoramic imaging so he or she can see what’s going on beneath the gum line. Many times, it’s what they see in x-rays that helps them determine the path of treatment.
Each of these treatment options will help you, your child or teenager obtain an outstanding smile while addressing any concerns you or your orthodontist has about the development of your teeth and smile. With the education and skill an orthodontist brings to the table – there is no mouth that can’t be turned into an award winning smile!
If you have concerns about your smile or if you just want to be your BEST self, why don’t you schedule a complimentary consultation appointment for yourself or your child. Dr. Labbe has been in the community, helping families like yours, for over 30 years. His associates and skilled team of assistants can take care of you and your family, too!
Please contact Labbe Family Orthodontics, where “Life is better with a smile.” They offer a fun, family-friendly experience in a relaxed and comfortable environment. You can contact them at 410-267-7300 OR request a complimentary consult on their website at www.LabbeFamilyOrtho.com.
Article written by: Dr. Stephen Labbe