All About Your Orthodontist: They’re Not Just the Braces Guy
While their realm of specialty lies in treating people with improperly positioned teeth, they are also trained in the treatment and control of facial growth (also known as dentofacial orthopedics) and the development/shape of the jaw. Even if you don’t need braces, an orthodontic specialist is still trained to treat a variety of maxillofacial problems. The difference in a dentist vs orthodontist is an orthodontist can treat structural issues that arise at any point in your life.
What Do They Fix Besides Crooked Teeth?
Your doctor has a wide range of tools available to help fix an array of dental issues, both structural and cosmetic. Whether they’re using braces, headgear, or plates, they can help fix a ton of stuff! Wide gaps, for example, aren’t just cosmetic; they can affect your speech, too. Your doctor can help close those gaps permanently, restoring self-confidence and preventing any permanent issues. Crooked teeth can also impede your speech or ability to eat, as well as affect the health of your gums and teeth. If your bite is off, this can create wear and tear on your teeth and cause problems with the structure and growth of your jaw. Just because you’re an adult and you’re done growing, your jaw can constantly change shape as you age, so keep that in mind if you’re hesitating about seeing a specialist.
Fixing a Bad Bite: The Most Common Orthodontic Problem
Known medically as malocclusion, a bad bite means the teeth are crooked and misaligned with an imperfect alignment between the top and bottom sets of the teeth. This can happen for any number of reasons, but the most common reason is usually because there was frequent thumb sucking as a child or an injury to the mouth. A bad bite doesn’t affect your physical health, but it can have a negative impact on how the face develops as it grows, not to mention creating crooked or protruding teeth. A really bad malocclusion can inhibit eating and speech, not to mention making it more difficult to keep the teeth brushed properly. Besides protruding front teeth, a bad bite commonly causes crowding of the teeth, leading to premature removal of baby teeth to make room for the others. The upper and lower teeth might become asymmetrical, and the adult teeth coming in might become impacted or malpositioned. Overbites are very common, too, which just means the upper teeth come down too far over the lower ones when the mouth is closed. Some kids end up with a reverse bite where the upper teeth fit behind the lower ones, or an open bite where there’s an opening between the upper and lower teeth.
When to Start Orthodontic Treatments
Orthodontic treatment typically isn’t started until the adult teeth have come in around 12 or 13 years of age. At this age, all of the adult teeth are in and fully developed. Of course, orthodontic treatment can arise at any time in your life, so don’t dismiss seeing an orthodontist even if you’re out of high school!
When you or your child goes into an orthodontic practice, they’ll do a complete work-up to gauge the current state of the teeth. If it’s a child, the doctor will predict how the teeth will develop without orthodontic intervention. No matter the age, however, they’ll take a full medical/dental history, perform an examination, take x-rays of both the teeth and jaws, and create plaster imprints and model of the teeth. All of these tools will be combined to create an intensive treatment plan.
Orthodontic Tools Used to Fix the Teeth
Fixed oral appliances are the most common tools used in orthodontic treatment. There are more restrictions on food and drinks, as well as athletics, but they usually get the best results. Braces are used the most often, of course, and serve to fix crooked and misaligned teeth and malocclusions. Fixed space maintainers are put in when a child prematurely loses a baby tooth to keep that space open for the adult tooth. A band is affixed to one of the teeth next to the space and a wire will go from the band to the other tooth. Special fixed appliances aren’t used all that often, but they may be beneficial to kids who tongue thrust or suck their thumb. They’re quite uncomfortable for the child, so they are only used if necessary.
Removable appliances treat minor problems or prevent future problems by curbing thumb sucking. They should be kept in the mouth at all times except when eating or flossing. Aligners are an option for adults who want braces without the “metal mouth” look. They’re pretty much invisible and they can be removed for brushing and eating. Headgear is unsightly, but serves well to slow upper jaw growth while keeping the back teeth in their proper positions. Palatal expanders make the upper jaw’s arch wider. It’s made up of a plastic plate that’s put on the upper palate. Screws put pressure on the joints in the bone and force the bones outward. Removable retainers are also put on the roof of the mouth and used to keep the teeth from moving into their original (misaligned) positions. Splints are put into the top or lower jaw to help the jaw close properly when the patient is dealing with tempormandibular joint disorder (TMJ) syndrome.
Now is the time
Don’t wait another minute! It is time to make that smile a vision of perfection! Contact Tisseront Orthodontics today for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Stephan Tisseront – the leading Harmony braces provider in the USA.
11720 Plaza America Drive, Ste. 110
Reston, VA 20190-4762
Phone: (703) 773-1200