Orthodontics is a form of dentistry that is concerned with the proper positioning of teeth, jaw bones, and jaw joints. Most people associate orthodontics with braces to correct crooked teeth in children. However, people of all ages may benefit from orthodontics - in fact, there is much more to gain than just a pleasing smile!

Orthodontics can impact our overall health. Teeth which are misaligned and crowded can cause infection, bone loss, decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Beyond the mouth, potential problems caused by misaligned teeth and jaws include: headaches, dizziness, ringing of the ears, eye twitching, or neck, shoulder and back pain. A stable bite is formed when the upper and lower teeth close and fit together like gears of a machine. When the bite is uneven, the chewing muscles become aggravated and must work harder to bring the teeth firmly together. The extra work makes them tired and strained. This can lead to pain and problems in the jaw, neck, back, head, eyes, and ears.

The goal of orthodontic correction is to establish a stable bite in which the muscles and bones are working in harmony. If you or your child have any of the following symptoms, please call our office to evaluate whether orthodontic intervention may be beneficial:

Experiencing these Symptoms?

  • Permanent teeth coming in out of their normal position
  • Problems with biting cheeks or roof of the mouth
  • Breathing difficulties and/or snoring at night
  • Mouth breathing
  • Face or jaw pain
  • Headaches
  • Speech difficulties
  • Difficulty chewing due to pain
  • Overbite or underbite of teeth
  • Tongue thrusting when swallowing
  • PHASE I(Early Treatment):

    Phase I orthodontic treatment usually starts before the permanent teeth have erupted or when the child has very few permanent teeth present.  Early treatment involves guiding the growth of the upper and/or lower jaw to make enough space for all the permanent teeth.  Other goals for Phase I therapy are to establish the proper positions of the upper jaw, the lower jaw, and the jaw joint.  Children may be evaluated as early as age four to check for tooth and jaw discrepancies. Appliances used during Phase I are known as "functional appliances".   Functional appliances work with the muscles and the bone by applying forces to direct the growth and development.  Functional appliances help correct bone problems, while the tooth alignment is corrected with the braces.Benefits of early treatment:

  • Correct harmful habits, such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting.
  • Increases nasal breathing which improves health
  • Improved speech, profile, smiles and self-esteem
  • Eliminates airway constriction
  • Prevents headaches and earaches
  • Create beautiful broad smiles by developing the arches
  • Functional appliances expand the arches and make more room for the tongue.
  • Reduction of the time in braces and frequently eliminates the need for the
    extraction of permanent teeth
  • The ideal age for the use of functional appliances is between ages seven and eleven, when the child is most cooperative. However, functional appliances can be utilized as early as age 4, if the upper jaw is too narrow and is having a negative effect on the child's breathing and speech. Functional appliances can also be used in adults to develop the arch to a more normal shape and size before applying or in combination with braces.

    PHASE II(Braces):

    Braces are usually the second phase of treatment, which follows the use of functional appliances. The braces are used to move the teeth into alignment to support the development of the bone achieved in the first phase of treatment. The second phase of treatment begins when the permanent teeth have erupted.Braces are small, square metal attachments (called brackets) that are bonded with special adhesive to the teeth. There is a small slot in the in the middle of the bracket into which the wire fits. In order to hold the wire in place, small tiny elastics are wrapped around the outside of the braces. The elastics come in many fun colors.  It is the combination of the braces, the wire and the elastic that help the tooth move into proper position.This second phase of treatment usually last between 12-24 months.  Patient cooperation is the best way to keep on schedule with the braces.  This includes keeping regular appointments, taking care of the appliances, and wearing rubber bands as instructed.After the braces are removed, a mouth retainer is often necessary to hold the final result in place.

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