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The way that you look matters more than it probably should because people judge you on your appearance and your smile. One of the most critical issues in how you look is whether you have a healthy set of teeth. A recent survey is out that reports that 37% of people say the first thing that they notice when meeting someone is their smile.
Badly shaped, missing, crooked or yellowed teeth can be off-putting, but it’s even worse if your teeth cause embarrassment that prevents you from smiling.
Serious tooth alignment problems can prove tremendously embarrassing. Genuine smiles make you approachable and enhance your appearance.
Even if you have tooth problems, smiling is more important to social and business success than not smiling to hide some dental imperfections.
Fortunately, you can improve your oral health and appearance by getting treatment by a dentist, or in tough cases, an orthodontist. You can get orthodontic work as an adult or child, but most people get the work done at a young age before all the permanent teeth grow in to make alignment corrections more difficult. Parents should monitor their children’s teeth and see an orthodontist if they suspect alignment problems.
What Is Orthodontics
Orthodontists practice the medical procedure called orthodontics. These dental experts are more than dentists – they’re dental specialists who receive two additional years of training after four years of dental school. Orthodontics is the practice of correcting crooked teeth, fixing problems with biting and chewing, closing gaps between teeth and aligning lips and teeth to prevent biting your lip.
Orthodontic services include:
- Correcting jaws and teeth that are improperly aligned
- Straightening crooked teeth
- Eliminating big gaps between teeth
- Fixing teeth that rub together to enable better cleaning and prevent tooth decay
Teeth that don’t fit well can mar your appearance and undermine your social confidence. It’s critical to understand that crooked or misaligned teeth and jaws can cause serious health issues that include mouth pain, shoulder and neck pain, headaches and TMJ syndrome, which is pain in the jaw joint that can cause further
Some people are gifted with naturally straight teeth, but others develop crooked teeth or spacing problems with some teeth having gaps and others overlapping. The problems can sometimes be health-threatening, and most people receive treatment for orthodontic issues while children or teenagers.
Do I Need Orthodontic Treatment?
Your orthodontist is a trained professional who uses his or her experience and the latest diagnostic technology to determine whether you can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists take full medical histories, examine the teeth, jaw and bite carefully, take X-rays and photographs and cast plastic models of your teeth to diagnose your condition and show you what needs to be done to produce a winning smile.
Orthodontic Problems and Treatment Options
Your regular dentist can take care of many minor issues, but serious alignment and jaw issues require the services of an orthodontist. Orthodontists treat the following conditions:
- Overbites, which are called “buck teeth,” and are caused by upper teeth being positioned too far forward
- Crossbites, where upper teeth don’t come down properly
- Underbites, which give a bulldog appearance because the lower teeth are placed too far forward or the upper teeth too far back
- Crowding, a condition where there are more teeth than the dental bridge can support
- Misplaced midline, which occurs when the front upper teeth don’t match the lower front teeth
- Open bites, where upper and lower teeth don’t don’t meet in the front or on the sides of the jaw
- Crooked teeth
- Jaw and/or gum disease and mouth injuries
Orthodontists use a variety of dental appliances to correct alignment problems gently. These include fixed and removable dental appliances. Each technique provides excellent benefits for patients, and you and your orthodontist work out an action plan that best achieves your goals, based on the severity of the condition. Some of the corrective techniques include:
Braces are the most common corrective device. The technique consists of fixing bands on key teeth as anchors and using wires through a bra attached to those bands. Your orthodontist gradually tightens the wires to move teeth into the optimal position.
- Space Maintainers
Space maintainers are a preventive measure. The spacers prevent alignment problems by protecting the space or spaces after losing baby teeth. That prevents other teeth from growing into the space needed for other permanent teeth to grow properly.
- Removable Aligners
This alternative to standard braces is designed primarily for adults. These serial aligners are changed regularly to align teeth gradually. Aligners can be worn in most situations and appear almost invisible, but they can be removed for oral care and special occasions.
- Special Appliances
These fixed appliances can control problems that include thumb sucking and tongue thrusting.
- Removable Space Maintainers
These work just like fixed maintainers. They’re made from acrylic and fit over the jaw with plastic between teeth to maintain the right spacing.
- Jaw Repositioning Appliances
These devices are also called splints, and can be worn on the upper or lower jaw. The device helps train your jaws to chew and close properly. Splints are also used to treat TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorders.
This device attaches to the back of the head and connects to a wire in the front, which is called a face bow. This appliance slows the growth of the upper jaw and holds the back teeth in a stable position while pulling back the front teeth.
These hold teeth in position. Worn on the roof of the mouth, retainers prevent the teeth from shifting and can also prevent thumb sucking.
- Palatal Expander
This device is used to widen the upper jaw’s arch to move teeth into better alignment. The plastic plate fits over the roof of the mouth and is secured by screws that put pressure on the joints to open further, widening the arch.
- Lip and Cheek Bumpers
These devices prevent the teeth and lips or cheeks from abrading against each other. This condition can damage soft tissues and even put damaging pressure on the teeth.
Restoring Your Dazzling Smile
There are other treatment options that include fixed a removable appliances, braces, aligners and devices to improve your bite.
Kids have a way of learning the truth about crooked teeth and people who never smile. The problems can cause social withdrawal in both adults and children. Adults can also improve their appearance and health by correcting long-standing orthodontic problems that were never treated or new issues caused by injuries, lost teeth and other conditions.
Your orthodontist can find a treatment that works for each individual patient. Parents should stress the importance of correcting misaligned teeth while young. The problems won’t go away and will only grow worse as kids grow older. Adults can finally improve their smiles. Visit an orthodontist in your area today to get an expert diagnosis.
Disclaimer – This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about orthodontics and general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your orthodontist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Is Your Smile the First Thing People Notice About You?