What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities. Orthodontic treatment and care has changed through the years and now more and more patients are experiencing fewer incidences of cavities and missing teeth due to the heightened awareness of fluoride use and preventative dentistry. As a result of more emphasis on oral health and achieving that perfect smile, many patients are seeking out orthodontia not only as a medical necessity, but for cosmetic reasons as well.
Why get Orthodontia Treatment?
Patients getorthodontic treatment to correct misaligned teeth. The reasons for this are many and include boosting self-confidence from having straight teeth, which are pleasing to look at. More importantly, properly aligned teeth enhance the biting, chewing and speaking functions of the jaw. There are several types of irregularities including:
Overbite – The upper teeth protrude further than or completely cover the lower teeth.
Underbite – The lower teeth protrude further than the upper teeth causing the chin to look prominent.
Crossbite – Some of the upper teeth may close inside the lower teeth rather than on the outside.
Overcrowding – Insufficient room on the arch causes some adult teeth to erupt incorrectly and become rotated.
How does the Procedure Work?
Generally, orthodontic treatment takes between six and 18 months to complete. The treatment time will largely depend on the classification of the malocclusion, the type of dental devices used to correct it and the perseverance of the patient. Here is a general overview of the major stages of treatment:
Phase 1 – The Planning Stage
Dr. Chao or Dr. Craw will make an exact diagnosis in order to realign the teeth in the most effective and expedient way. Your first visit may comprise of some of the following evaluations:
- Medical and dental evaluations – Dental and physical problems tend to go hand in hand. Problems in the oral cavity can lead to (or be caused by) medical problems. The goal of this evaluation is to ensure that prior medical and dental issues are completely under control before treatment begins.
- Study model (castings/bite impressions) – You will be asked to bite down into a dental tray filled with a gel substance that hardens around the teeth. The trays are removed from the teeth and filled with plaster to create models of your teeth. Study models enable the dentist to study the position of each tooth, and how it relates to the other teeth.You will be referred to a dental laboratory for a few images and x-rays following your consultation with our office
Phase 2 – The Active Phase
All of the above diagnostic tools will be used to diagnosis and develop a customized treatment plan you. Most commonly, traditional fixed braces are affixed, which utilizes individual dental brackets connected by an arch wire. The dentist will regularly adjust your wire to ensure adequate and continual pressure is being applied to the teeth. It is essential to visit the dentist at the designated intervals (6 to 8 weeks) and to call if part of the device breaks or becomes damaged.
What Happens After Treatment?
The phase after treatment is known as the retention stage. When the teeth have been correctly aligned, fixed braces and removable devices will be removed and discontinued. The dentist will then create a custom retainer. The goal of the retainer is to ensure that the teeth do not begin to shift back to their original positions. Retainers need to be worn for most of the day for the first 6 to 12 months, then only at night while sleeping. During the retention phase, the jawbone will reform around the realigned teeth to fully stabilize them in the correct alignment.
Sherwood Family Dentistry now offers Invisalign!
Request an Appointment
If you would like to make an appointment for a routine checkup, please send us an email or give us a call (714-924-3200).