What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment (braces)?
The benefits of orthodontic treatment (braces) go beyond the obvious physical changes of an improved bite and straighter teeth. Even more important is the need to alleviate any potential health problems associated with the teeth or jaw. Crooked teeth or jaw problems may contribute to improper cleaning of teeth leading to tooth decay and possibly gum disease or loss of teeth.
With all the recent advancements in orthodontics, wearing braces has never been easier. State-of-the-art appliances and treatments are now available ranging from traditional metal braces, to clear and tooth coloured brackets, to NASA type wires that are heat activated and require fewer adjustments!
What happens if braces are not used as treatment for an orthodontic problem?
Orthodontic problems that go untreated can lead to chewing and digestion difficulties, speech impairments, and abnormal wear of tooth surfaces. Over time, excessive strain on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth can affect the jaws leading to problems such as headaches or face and neck pain.
What are some important reasons for the use of orthodontic treatment (braces) in adults & children?
Some important reasons for orthodontic treatment (braces) are:
- Breathing or swallowing problems – Mouth breathing can lead to snoring and sleep apnoea
- Cross bite
- Crowding of teeth
- Deep overbite – A significant overlap of the lower teeth by the upper teeth
- Disfiguring of the face & mouth due to abnormally positioned teeth
- Pain in the jaws due to improper occlusion
- Presence of extra teeth
- Overjet (protruding upper teeth)
- Too much space between teeth due to missing teeth
- Speech, chewing or biting problems
- Underbite (lower jaw protrusion)
- Improving self-image – An attractive smile can boost a person’s self-image and confidence
Specific to children:
- Preventing finger or thumb sucking with the use of special orthodontic appliances
- Guiding teeth erupting out of position into proper alignment
What are the phases of orthodontic treatment (braces)?
Orthodontic treatment (braces) involves three phases:
- Planning Phase– During this phase, a medical and dental history evaluation will be performed. Photographs of your face and mouth as well as X-rays of the teeth and jaws will be taken. Castings or “moulds” of your teeth will be prepared to aid in treatment planning. After careful planning, your orthodontist will design and apply braces or fabricate custom-made appliances for you.
- Active Phase – Active treatment involves visiting your orthodontist on a regular basis for adjustments and following specific treatment requirements to ensure successful treatment.
- Retention Phase – When treatment is completed, the braces and/or appliances are removed and a new appliance (retainer) is placed. Usually these retainers are removable and will maintain the changes made to your teeth if worn continuously until the teeth and bone are stabilised in their new positions.
Treatment and retention times vary depending on each individual case. Your orthodontist will ensure you have a successful treatment attaining straighter teeth within 6-9 months and a beautiful smile that can last a lifetime.