The word orthodontics comes from the Greek words orthos meaning straight or proper, and odons meaning tooth. Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.
Orthodontists are qualified dentists, who after graduating from dental school, go on to additional full-time university-based education in an accredited orthodontic residency program. That training lasts for three academic years. By learning about tooth movement (orthodontics) and guidance of facial development (dentofacial orthopedics), orthodontists are the uniquely educated experts in dentistry to straighten teeth and align jaws.
Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age seven or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist or the child’s physician. Adult treatment may take longer due to the maturity of the bone.
Orthodontic treatment time varies and can last between one and three years, depending on several factors including age, treatment method, and how minor or severe your case is. A big factor in a successful treatment is you! The more involved and diligent you are, the more efficient your treatment will be. For children, receiving interceptive or early treatment can also help provide a quicker overall treatment time. Before beginning your orthodontic care, your doctor will discuss all of your options and provide an estimate for how long your full treatment may take. Please contact our practice to schedule an appointment and learn more about orthodontics and the treatments we provide.
Straight teeth help an individual to effectively bite, chew and speak. Straight teeth contribute to healthy teeth and gums ensuring a long life for your teeth. Properly aligned teeth and jaws may alleviate or prevent physical health problems and problems such as abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, tooth decay, gum disease, or misalignment of the jaw joints, sometimes leading to chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck.
Teeth that work better also tend to look better. An attractive smile is a wonderful asset. It contributes to self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image—important qualities at every age. A pleasing appearance is a vital component of self-confidence. A person's self-esteem often improves as orthodontic treatment brings teeth, lips and face into proportion.
You may be surprised to learn that straight teeth are less prone to decay and injury. As for injuries to teeth, protruding upper teeth are more likely to be broken in an accident. How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb sucking habits.
Most children have lost all their baby teeth by age 13 and by the end of their teen years the jaw bones will harden and no longer continue to grow. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction and the possibility of oral surgery. As a child, receiving early orthodontic treatment can help prevent the need for complicated orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in most people.
If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take towards caring for your child’s smile.