What is orthodontics?
The process of aligning and straightning the teeth is called
orthodontics.In common terms it may be defined as the science
of moving teeth, straightening irregular, crowded or improperly
placed teeth. Dentists who are specially qualified in this
area of expertise are referred to as Orthodontists.
Who requires orthodontic
Anyone with malaligned or irregular teeth, buck teeth , crowded
teeth,overlapping teeth,or ones with gaps in between may require
What causes orthodontic
An orthodontic problem is called a malocclusion or a “badbite”.
Some examples of causes of malocclusion are crowded teeth,
extra teeth, missing teeth or jaws that are out of alignment.Most
malocclusions are inherited, although some can be acquired.Acquired
malocclusions can be caused by accidents, early or late loss
of baby teeth, or sucking of the thumb or fingers for a prolonged
period of time.
Why do the teeth become
There are many reasons for malaligned or irregular teeth:
• Small jaw
• Thumb sucking
• Bad lip and tongue habits
• Oral habits like mouth breathing, nail biting etc.
• Incompetent lips
• Injury/ accidents
What does the treatment involve?
The treatment is done commonly by fixing braces to the teeth
and straightening them out.
Why should I get braces ?
• Smile is the most important feature on your face.
It is hard to believe when you are going through with the
treatment, but braces will improve your smile and make your
face look excellent. Beautiful healthy smiles are the most
obvious benefit of orthodontics. Another outcome- increased
self confidence may also be evident.
• Braces improve your health, as you will be able to
chew your food better.
• You will avoid dental problems in future.If you do
not get orthodontic treatment when you need it ,you will have
problems in the future ,and you will not be able to clean
your teeth which will lead to other dental problems.The effects
are significant enough that many adults are now going for
• You may avoid developing a breathing problem.
Are there any age limits for
There are no age limits. Orthodontic treatment is slower
when you are older.
Do adults really get braces
Absolutely. Many adults did not get braces when they were
young.Either their parents delayed the treatment or they could
not be treated with the old techniques. Now they are more
conscious about their smile, and they may have a problem in
chewing their food, so they get braces. Other people may have
had orthodontic treatment when they were young, but they did
not wear the retainers till they stopped growing (you should
wear your retainer till you are 24). The result is that the
teeth became crooked. Now they are unhappy with their smile
so they get braces too.
health advantages to adult orthodontic treatment ?
Yes. When the teeth are crooked they are harder to clean
and will wear unevenly. Your gums and teeth will hurt , and
eventually you will lose your teeth. Orthodontic treatment
can inhibit gum disease and thus prevent tooth loss.
Orthodontic treatment will also help you chew your food better
facilitating better digestion and nutrition.
When should a child get
Although individual problems determine the best time to start
orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontics
recommends that every child see an Orthodontist at an early
age, but should be no later than 8 years, as most orthodontic
problems are easier to correct if detected early rather than
treating when jaw growth has slowed.
Should I wait till my child’s
bite gets better on its own ?
NO!!! Unfortunately , many parents assume they must wait
until a child has all of his permanent teeth, only to find
out that treatment would have been much more easier if started
earlier. Early orthodontic treatment can have tremendous impact
on a young persons oral health and emotional wellbeing. Further,
as your child gets older, the orthodontic treatment becomes
How will I know if
my child needs to visit an orthodontist ?
Although many people associate orthodontic treatment with
adolescence, orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw
growth or with the teeth much earlier, while the primary or
baby teeth are present. Some of the more readily apparent
conditions that indicate the need for early examination include
• Early or late loss of teeth
• Difficulty in chewing or biting
• Mouth breathing
• Thumb sucking
• Crowding, misplaced or blocked out teeth
• Jaws that shift or make sounds
• Speech difficulties
• Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
• Teeth that meet abnormally or do not meet at all
• Facial imbalance
• Jaws that are too forward or back
• Grinding or clenching of teeth
What are orthopedic
Orthodontists may use one of the several orthodontic appliances
designed to guide bone growth. In some patients early treatment
achieves results that may not be possible once the face and
jaws have finished growing.
are involved in orthodontic treatment ?
First , your orthodontist will examine you and make your
pre treatment records. These records are important tools for
the orthodontist to use in making an accurate diagnosis. They
include medical/ dental history, clinical examination, and
plaster study models of teeth, photographs of your teeth and
the x- rays of your mouth and head. This information will
be used to decide the best treatment.
A custom treatment plan is outlined for each patient. The
specific treatment appliance which is best suited to correct
the patients orthodontic problem is constructed. There are
varieties of different orthodontic appliances that may be
used. When orthodontic appliances are in place, this is considered
an active treatment phase. Appliances are adjusted periodically
so that the teeth are moved correctly and efficiently. The
time for orthodontic treatment varies from person to person.
An important factor in how long a person wears braces is how
well a patient cooperates during the treatment- for example
by following the instructions to wear rubber bands or headgear.
After the active treatment is completed, the retention phase
begins. The patient will need to wear a retainer so that the
teeth stay in their new position.
Why do some patients have to extract
/remove teeth while some do not?
In some cases some patients may have to get some teeth extracted
in order to fix the braces. Teeth are only removed after serious
consideration. However, if the patient is referred to a qualified
orthodontist at a young ageand the problem is not severe,
then the entire treatment may be carried out without tooth
Are there less
Today’s braces are generally less noticeable than those
of the past. Brackets, the part of the that hold the wires
, are bonded to the teeth. These brackets can be metal, clear
or tooth colored ceramic brackets. Wires that are used with
the braces are also less noticeable. Today’s wires are
made of materials that exert a steady gentle pressure on the
teeth making the tooth movement process faster and more comfortable
for the patients.
How long does the treatment
Although the average treatment time is about 24 months, this
varies with individual patients. Usually the adult treatment
takes a little longer than a child’s treatment. Other
things to consider are the severity of the problem, the health
of the teeth gums and supporting bone and how well the patients
follow instructions. While orthodontic treatment requires
a time commitment, most people feel the benefits are well
worth the time invested.
What is having braces like?
Generally the patients mouth is sore for the first week after
one gets braces. Also the mouth will be sore after the braces
are tightened. Initially when the braces are fixed there may
be some sores on the lips and warm saline gargles are indicated
during this period. After some time as the treatment progresses,
you should get so used to the braces, that you should not
notice the braces except when they are being tightened or
if you get hit in the mouth.
How will my lifestyle
be affected when I have braces ?
Your lifestyle will not be affected after getting braces
as you will be able to do everything you do now. You will
not be able to eat a few things such as
bubblegum, chocolates, peanut butter, and you will have to
wear a mouth guard when you participate in sports. You are
advised to avoid sports where you will get hurt in the face
such as fighting, boxing, wrestling and karate. However your
lifestyle will hardly be affected, and you will end up with
a fabulous smile.
How often should I
brush my teeth when I have braces ?
Brushing and flossing is very important when you have braces
because food can get caught in between leading to cavities.
Also you will have terribly bad breath. You should brush regularly
after every meal and before you go to bed. The brushing has
to be done diligently and carefully otherwise the gums may
swell and bleed. A special orthodontic brush has to be used
for this purpose.
What is a retainer?
A retainer keeps your teeth in perfect alignment after the
braces are removed. It is usually removable, but a fixed retainer
is an alternative when the patient keeps forgetting to wear
it Fixed retainers are bonded to the teeth and can not be
removed by the patient.
Why do I need the retainer
Usually, when the braces are first removed, your teeth will
be in perfect alignment , but your gums, bone and teeth will
not have completely settled into their new positions. The
retainer has to be used un till your gums, bones etc settle
into their new positions. At the end of the orthodontic treatment,
your smile will be wonderful , and you need to keep wearing
your retainer to maintain it like this.
What happens if I do not
wear the retainer ?
Your gums and bone will not settle into the new positions
so your teeth will tend to move back to their old positions
, and your fabulous smile will dwindle. You may even need
to get your braces put on again.
How long should I use
the retainer ?
You need to wear the retainer 24 hours a day for at least
a year after your braces are removed.