What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialist branch of dentistry. It covers the growth and development of the jaws and teeth, as well as correction of any problems. Orthodontic treatment usually involves using braces to correct tooth position or modify jaw growth. Orthodontics can improve the appearance, health and function of the teeth.
Children between the ages of 6 and 11 usually have a mixture of adult and milk (deciduous or primary) teeth. The orthodontist can monitor tooth and jaw development, and sometimes simple orthodontic treatment can be carried out to aid normal development and make future treatment simpler. For example, the orthodontist can advise on the best timing for extraction of decayed teeth. If braces are used they are usually removable or simple fixed braces for a short time (4-12 months).
Once all the adult teeth are through, around age 12, full orthodontic treatment can be carried out to correct crowded, crooked, gappy or prominent teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be needed if teeth grow in the wrong place, or of there are too many or too few teeth. Most commonly, fixed braces also know as "train-tracks" are used, sometimes in conjunction with removable braces. It is not always necessary to extract teeth, your orthodontist will advise you on this. Extractions and routine dental care will be carried out by your general dentist, who the orthodontist will liaise with closely. Orthodontic treatment usually takes from 9 to 30 months, depending on the problem. With all the different types of braces available, it is now quite trendy to have a brace at this age!
Adults of any age can wear braces. Braces for adults are usually required because they either did not get braces as a teenager for some reason, or the teeth have got gradually worse with time. Various types of braces can be used to correct crowding, spacing, poor bite, teeth that have drifted due to gum disease, or to move teeth to better positions before crowns or implants. Fixed braces are used for complex tooth movements and are most often recommended. Braces can now be less visible, either through tooth coloured parts or by sticking them behind the teeth (lingual braces). Aligner braces like Invisalign are virtually unnoticeable, and are great for less severe problems.