April 17, 2024

Orthodontics: Improving Oral Health and Boosting Self-Confidence

Orthodontics refers to the branch of dentistry that deals with correcting misaligned teeth and jaws by the usage of appliances like braces. It involves the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of malocclusion, which refers to imperfect positioning of the teeth or interlocking relationship between the teeth of the two dental arches.

Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment

Beyond improving appearance, Orthodontics treatment provides several health benefits:

– Improved oral hygiene: Misaligned teeth are harder to clean and can lead to gum disease. Straightening teeth makes brushing and flossing easier, reducing plaque and improving gum health.

– Reduced risk of tooth decay: Crooked teeth trap more food particles and make cavities more likely to develop. Orthodontics fixes spacing and alignment issues that promote decay.

– Prevention of dental injury: Properly aligned teeth are less likely to be damaged from accidental blows to the face or other injury. Misaligned teeth are at higher risk for damage like loosened teeth or fractures.

– Improved ability to chew food: Perfectly aligned teeth work together seamlessly to chew and grind food. Malocclusion affects chewing efficiency and comfort levels. Orthodontics optimizes functioning.

– Reduces jaw pain: Misaligned bites can overload certain teeth and jaw joints, contributing to pain, tenderness, fatigue and headaches. Correcting malocclusion provides better distribution of forces across the dental arch.

Common Orthodontic Problems

There are several common orthodontic issues that treatment aims to resolve:

– Overbite: Upper teeth that protrude too far beyond the lower front teeth when biting together.

– Underbite: Lower teeth that overlap (rather than line up vertically with) the upper teeth when biting together.

– Crowded teeth: Too many teeth for the jaw space available, causing teeth to be crammed in improperly.

– Open bite: Front teeth do not meet due to a gap between them when biting down.

– Crossbite: Some teeth overlapping the ones opposite them from the other jaw in one or more places.

– Spacing between teeth: Uneven gaps between teeth instead of a uniform distribution along the arch.

Orthodontic Treatment Options

The main types of orthodontic appliances or devices used in treatment include:

– Braces: These are the classic clear or metal brackets and wires bonded to the front of teeth to exert corrective pressure over time. Multiple types are available like brackets placed behind teeth or lingual braces on the back tooth surfaces.

– Clear aligners: Removable trays filled with transparent plastic that gently move teeth in a graduated series of small shifts, frequently requiring multiple trays for treatment completion. These are alternatives to traditional fixed braces but still rely on progressive incremental adjustments.

– Headgear: Devices that connect a wire or tension band running from the upper dental braces to a headgear fastened securely around the neck and head. Used to control forces imparted by braces as the orthodontist sees fit.

– Palatal expansion devices: Usually placed in the roof of the mouth behind the upper teeth, these put pressure on the palatal bones to widen the width of the arch over weeks and months to gain space. Key for treating narrow maxillas in growing adolescent patients.

– Retainers: Once braces treatment is finished, clear plastic retainers are worn to maintain the corrected tooth alignment and to prevent a relapse back towards prior positions. They are continually required for at least a year and occasionally the rest of life.

Duration and Cost of Orthodontic Treatment

On average, treatment time with braces takes 12-24 months for most cases. More complex problems may require longer wear from 2-3 years. The cost of braces depends on the orthodontist but ranges from $3,000-$8,000 to straighten teeth. Multiple factors affect the price like treatment difficulty, desired provider, and appliance choices. Insurance often helps cover part of the fees, especially for children and teenagers. Shorter treatments with clear aligners cost a bit less usually. Retainers and occasional adjustments are an added permanent cost beyond the initial expenditure on aligning the bite. Overall, orthodontics’ benefits strongly outweigh its financial requirements over a lifetime of improved dental health and confidence from a beautiful smile.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it