Your smile is your greeting to the world. It’s also a window to an important part of your dental health and the alignment of your teeth. Not everyone is born with beautiful teeth. Crooked teeth or spaces between the teeth may be a source of embarrassment or self-consciousness. Improperly aligned teeth and jaws (called a Malocclusion) can lead to a host of sometimes serious dental disorders. The good news is that orthodontic treatment can correct these problems and help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile that is good for life.
The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to allow you to bite correctly, eat more comfortably and care for your teeth and gums more easily. And, of course, to create the best smile possible! Routine orthodontic treatment commonly uses braces to straighten crooked, crowded or protruding teeth, close gaps between teeth and correct how the teeth fit together. Full treatment can be as short as a year, but it usually runs about two years with visits required every four to seven weeks.
Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This may contribute to conditions that cause not only tooth decay but also eventual gum disease and tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints, which can result in chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck.
When left untreated, many orthodontic problems become worse. Treatment by a specialist to correct the original problem is often less costly than the additional dental care required to treat more serious problems that can develop in later years.
Benefits of Early Treatment
For those patients who have clear indications for early orthodontic intervention, early treatment presents an opportunity to:
- guide the growth of the jaw
- regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches (the arch-shaped jaw bone that supports the teeth)
- guide incoming permanent teeth into desirable positions
- lower risk of trauma (accidents) to protruded upper incisors (front teeth)
- correct harmful oral habits such as thumb- or finger-sucking
- reduce or eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems
- improve personal appearance and self-esteem
- potentially simplify and/or shorten treatment time for later corrective orthodontics
- reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth (teeth that should have come in, but have not)
- and preserve or gain space for permanent teeth that are coming in