Orthodontic treatment corrects teeth and jaw alignment problems and involves the design and use of appliances such as braces, retainers, aligners, rubber bands, and headgears. If you have crowded or overlapping teeth, it makes them harder to clean which increases your chances of tooth decay, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss. With orthodontic treatment, you can improve the health of your teeth and start to smile with confidence!
Early intervention and treatment is preferred, since the process is usually quicker and easier. Treatment can begin as early as six or seven, which is when some habits that are formed as a baby can begin to cause unwanted tooth movement. Orthodontic treatment is also available for adults, who can be treated with both fixed and removable appliances.
Crooked, crowded and overlapping teeth can cause a wide range of problems, including:
- Tooth decay and gum disease - teeth that are not in proper alignment are hard to clean, particularly if they overlap. A build-up of plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
- Wear and tear - the teeth of the upper and lower jaw are meant to come together in a specific way, with the upper teeth slightly protruding over the lower teeth. If they are misaligned, the action of chewing may grind the teeth unevenly.
- Jaw injury - the jaw joint is called the temporo-mandibular joint, which is also known as the TMJ. A bad bite may place stress and strain on this joint; this can cause localized problems such as pain, headaches as well as clicking or grinding noises when the jaw opens and closes.
- Speech impediments - many sounds are made with the tongue against or near the teeth. Misaligned teeth or jaws can interfere with speech.
- Self-confidence - a person may be reluctant to smile due to misaligned teeth.
Problems with teeth and jaw alignment are identified using a number of tests, including:
- Dental X-rays both inside and outside the mouth
- Photographs both inside and outside the mouth
- Duplicate your bite in stone casts using impression materials
Once the problems are diagnosed, we will determine if Invisalign is a suitable option, or if a referral needs to be made to an Orthodontist. Any existing dental findings will likely need to be addressed before orthodontic treatment can begin. For instance, any decay must be treated and a dental cleaning must be performed. Also, teeth that are causing crowding may need to be removed before orthodontic treatment can be started.