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Orthodontia is sort of like dentistry, but it’s far more specialized. Also called dentofacial orthopedics by some doctors, orthodontics focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of abnormalities with your teeth and jaw.
These abnormalities are called malocclusions, and they can be as simple as teeth that aren’t straight, or as serious as bone structure issues that are causing problems with your bite.
Orthodontists complete dental school just like your family dentist, and then they receive 2 to 3 more years of specialized training and experience. While some dentists may offer basic services like braces, only an orthodontist is qualified to straighten your teeth, correct jaw structure issues, and improve the actual function of your bite and smile.
Officially, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first visit with an orthodontist around age 7. Every mouth is different, though, and you might want to see your family orthodontist a little earlier if you notice problems with your child’s teeth or bite.
Orthodontia isn’t just for kids, of course. About 20% of all orthodontia patients are 21 or older, and your family orthodontist can help you determine the right time to get appliances for your teen.
In most cases, malocclusions are genetic, meaning you inherit them from your parents. Crowded teeth, spacing issues, extra teeth, jaw growth and formation problems, and other common crooked teeth issues are all determined mostly by your genes.
Sometimes, behaviors and diseases can cause orthodontic issues, too. Thumb sucking is an example of a bad habit that can cause malocclusions, and certain dental diseases can create problems that are addressed by orthodontia. You may also have alignment or jaw issues from accidents, injuries, and other trauma to your mouth or jaw.
Think about how much you use your mouth!
Orthodontic treatment is way more than just a cosmetic treatment. An orthodontist addresses problems like your jaw position, your bite, the way your teeth fit together, and things like crowding that can make it impossible to clean your teeth properly. Without treatment, you’re likely to experience more serious problems later, including:
Having a beautiful smile that makes you feel confident is definitely important and shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s just not the only thing you should consider.
An experienced orthodontist can do a lot more than you might expect! Still, every case is different, and without a personal consultation, you won’t know your options.
Schedule a consultation with a local orthodontist to get personalized recommendations about orthodontic treatment.
If you have missing teeth and you’re considering getting braces or aligners, that’s not a problem at all. In fact, getting orthodontic treatment can help stabilize your bite and help you keep your mouth healthy.
The best treatment option will depend on your future plans. If you want to replace your missing tooth, your orthodontist can keep the space open. Especially if your tooth has been missing for awhile, orthodontic treatment can really help.
You may not want to replace your missing tooth, and in that case, your orthodontist may be able to close the gap. Even if there will still be some space, treatment can help stabilize your bite to prevent and minimize shifting and bone loss in the future. Your orthodontist will work with your dentist and any other specialists to get the best possible result.
As long as you have healthy teeth, you’re never too old for orthodontic treatment. Age doesn’t really figure in when determining treatment efficacy.
Lots of adults choose to get braces or clear aligners to create a better bite, address malocclusions, and decrease the risk of future dental problems. If you’re worried about the way you’ll look with braces, there are plenty of discreet options available, too.
Modern orthodontic appliances aren’t what they used to be. For teens and adults who want something less visible than traditional braces, you have a variety of options.
Not all appliances are right for every situation, but you can definitely find an option that works for you. Ask your orthodontist about discreet aligners and brackets during your first consult.
Whether you’re considering treatment as an adult or your teen is concerned about getting braces, there are plenty of modern treatment options that suit pretty much any lifestyle.
Your treatment won’t stop you from doing the things you already love, like playing musical instruments and participating in sports. You’ll still look great in photos, too.
Of course there will be some temporary adjustments during your treatment. For just a little while, you’ll want to avoid certain foods and take special care to keep your appliances clean. The vast majority of orthodontia patients adapt quickly and don’t find their treatment disruptive at all.
This seems like an obvious answer, but modern braces might not be what you think. Options include:
Each of these is composed of brackets and wires, but the appearance, placement, and technologies are far beyond what you remember from your school days. Ask your orthodontist about the different types.
Treatment time varies from person to person, and it depends on your malocclusions, how your teeth respond to treatment, and how well you follow directions. Orthodontic treatment takes anywhere from 6 months to 30 months, and the average treatment time is about 22 months.
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