What is Orthodontics?

» What Problems Can Orthodontics Correct?
» What You Can Expect?
» Oral Hygiene

Like many other areas of health care, Orthodontics is a specialist field, which requires several years’ postgraduate training. And training is everything when achieving outcomes that you require.

Orthodontics has changed substantially from the heavy, cumbersome and obvious metal braces many of us remember from years ago. Orthodontics is focused on the diagnosis, prevention and correcting misalignment of the teeth and jaws. As a result, your teeth and gums are easier to clean and keep healthy reducing the chance of developing gum disease.

Although your teeth are secured into your jawbone, your body’s ability to regenerate bone and tissue enables them to be moved gradually into their ideal position, which is why people of all ages are able to benefit from Orthodontics. Through the development of innovations within the field of Orthodontics, many adults are now opting to undergo Orthodontic therapy to correct alignment concerns that may stem back to their childhood or have resulted from an accident or tooth loss.

Typically, Orthodontics involves the use of braces for aligning teeth. Braces come in various forms and may consist of brackets bonded to your teeth and fine arch wires, which are threaded through the braces. The arch wires act as a track, guiding each tooth to its ideal position.

Other treatment appliances available include:

  • Clear (porcelain) braces
  • Clear Correctors (Invisalign) – Clear plastic aligners that can be removed so you can eat, brush and floss, not suited to everyone.
  • Hidden braces (Incognito)- These are braces fitted behind the teeth on the tongue (lingual) side so they are totally hidden.

Following a thorough assessment with one of the Family Orthodontics team, a treatment plan will be developed with you outlining the most appropriate treatment method for you or your child’s personal situation.

It is important to understand that once your treatment begins, and if you have been referred to our practice, we will work closely with your own dentist throughout the course of your care.

If you have any questions regarding any aspect of your care, you will find we are approachable and willing to help. Our team looks forward to caring for you, your family and your friends.

What Problems Can Orthodontics Correct?

Upper Front Teeth Protrusion

With this type of bite, your teeth are impacted. This is characterised by the upper teeth extending too far forward or the lower teeth not extending far enough.

Overbite

This is when the upper front teeth extend out over the lower front teeth, sometimes causing the lower front teeth to bite into the roof of the mouth.

Crossbite

This is caused when the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth, which may cause misaligned jaw growth.

Open bite

Proper chewing is impeded by this type of bite, in which the upper and lower front teeth do not overlap.

Crowding

When there is not enough space in the jawbone to accommodate all the emerging teeth, crowding occurs. Crowding can often be corrected by the application of an expansion plate, this can often prevent the need to remove an otherwise healthy tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth may also cause crowding, resulting in the need for their removal.

Spacing

Spacing problems may be caused by one or several missing teeth, or they may only be an aesthetic issue.

Dental midlines not matched

When the upper and lower teeth are shifted over to the right or left causing asymmetry.

What You Can Expect?

Phase One

Refers to treatment undertaken prior to full fixed braces are placed. This phase of treatment usually involves expanders or plates to widen or correctly align the jaws before the individual positioning of the teeth are finalised with braces. Phase one therapies are used in Orthopaedics or growth modification protocols.

Expanders

Are a means to permanently widen constricted upper arches and this procedure has the benefits of increasing the space available to align crowded teeth and may also increase nasal airflow which improves some breathing problems.

A “Rapid Maxillary Expander” is placed then activated over a 2-3 week period. After this time it is kept in place for a further 6-9 months to retain the correction. Decompensation of the lower arch usually occurs during this period also. Expansion of the upper jaw is best achieved before the age 16 as true Orthopaedic expansion is gained during growth phases. As upper arch expansion is much more difficult for adults, they may require surgical assistance to achieve the same result. If this is the case, all surgical treatment is provided by our specialist Oral Surgeon.

Twin Block Plates

These are designed to correctly position the lower jaw relative to the upper jaw and improve the overall facial appearance. These plates are usually best done prior to braces before the age of 16, as the changes they cause are best incorporated into a growing face.

The plates are usually worn for 9 months and adjusted at regular intervals (approximately every 6 weeks). Although the plates are very successful in correcting bite problems they are totally dependant on excellent cooperation and full-time wear. As they tend to move the jaw position, they cannot detail the individual position of the teeth, which is done with braces.

Braces

Are small attachments that are bonded individually to your teeth. They can be made from metal or clear material. Your teeth are gradually moved and straightened by working through a progressive series of wires. Treatment entails a number of stages until your bite is corrected and teeth are aligned. Treatment time will vary depending on your personal situation.

Braces Stage 1- Level and Alignment

Most of the visible changes occur quickly during this stage where irregular and malposed teeth are brought into alignment by archwires that are highly flexible and gentle in action. Progressively archwires are fully tied into brackets during this phase. Appointment intervals during this time may be extended up to 8 weeks as these ‘high-tech’ wires continue to act reliably over these longer intervals.

Braces Stage 2- Bite Correction and Space Closure

A slower stage in which stiffer stainless steel archwires are usually placed and your bite correction is achieved by the use of intra-oral elastics and powerchains. Good compliance is essential to keep your treatment progressing and appointments are usually scheduled every 6-8 weeks. The configuration of elastic wear may be changed to reflect the changes occurring to your bite.

Braces Stage 3- Detailing and Finishing

Individual tooth position is fine-tuned to produce a highly aesthetic smile and functional bite. Minor movements are often required by placing specific bends in the archwires during detailing. Elastic wear may be continued during this stage and archwires may be changed to prepare the bite for eventual removal of your braces.

Retention and Retainers

The most important part of your treatment is maintaining the result. As a general tendency teeth tend to crowd and overlap as we age. The ONLY method to prevent this occurrence is meticulous and fastidious retainer wear. Initially full-time wear is required (apart from brushing/vigorous sport and eating) for 2 months. Following that period it is necessary to continue your retainer wear and the hours that you will wear them will cut back gradually to just of a night time indefinitely.

Oral Hygiene

It is never more important to practice good oral hygiene than when you or your child is undergoing Orthodontic treatment. A meticulous brushing and flossing routine, particularly while wearing fixed braces will prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar around the brackets and keep your gums healthy. It is advised that adults with a history of gum disease schedule regular cleaning appointments during orthodontic treatment. It is important that children having Orthodontic treatment be encouraged to adopt a thorough cleaning routine.

In addition to brushing, be sure to take time to floss between your braces and under the wires, using a floss threader will help with this, we can demonstrate to you the most effective techniques.