Orthodontics is a dental specialty that deals with changing the alignment of the teeth and the jawbone. In simple words, it deals with correcting malocclusion issues. Some of the commonly used orthodontic solutions to correct misaligned teeth are dental braces, Invisalign, and other removable dental appliances.
What are the common malocclusion issues?
- Crowding: This is the condition where the teeth appear too crowded. This is because the teeth do not have enough space to erupt and may overlap over one another. Orthodontic appliances such as braces can be used to space them equally.
- Spacing: In this condition, the teeth are spaced too far apart. The causes of excessive spacing could be small teeth, wide dental arch or missing teeth, due to which the remaining teeth would drift.
- Underbite: In this condition, the teeth of the lower jaw extending beyond the teeth of the upper. Therefore, the bottom teeth 'sit' in front of the upper teeth. The causes could be the outgrowing of the lower jaw over the upper jaw, outward protrusion of the lower teeth, etc.
- Overbite: The teeth from the upper jaw protrude beyond the teeth from the lower jaw, causing a condition where the lower jaw teeth dig into the roof of the mouth. It could lead to wear of the teeth.
- Crossbite: One or more teeth from the upper jaw 'sit' behind the teeth from the lower jaw. It could affect the growth of the adjoining teeth as well as the jawbone.
- Open bite: In certain cases, the frontal teeth do not make contact when the molars are clenched. This condition is called an open bite.
Why should you get malocclusion treated?
Malocclusion may lead to several dental problems. So it is better to get it treated during the early stages. Here are some of the advantages of getting orthodontic treatment:
- Misaligned teeth can be aligned properly: Misaligned teeth can lead to a bad bite and skeletal disharmony of the jaws. It can affect the entire shape of the face and also loosen the teeth from their sockets in the jawbone. Orthodontic treatment helps align them perfectly, imparting a good smile.
- Helps maintain better oral hygiene: Overly crowded teeth makes it difficult to maintain oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing become difficult and this allows bacteria to colonize.
- Reduces the risk of TMJ: TMJ stand for Temporomandibular joint, and it's joint which connects the jawbone to the skull. Malocclusion applies excessive pressure on this joint, leading to pain in the jaws, shoulder, ears, etc. It also reduces the condition of bruxism.
- Reduces tooth decay: Malocclusion leads to uneven wear of the teeth, which can lead to erosion of the teeth and also decay. It can be prevented by proper orthodontic treatment.
- Braces: Braces are fixed appliances which are used to correct misaligned teeth. They consist of individual brackets which are cemented onto the teeth. They are connected to each other by wires, thereby applying pressure on the teeth. This helps move the teeth to the desired position, thereby treating malocclusion issues.
- Removable dental appliances: They are non-fixed braces-like appliances used to perfectly align misaligned teeth. Some of the examples are headgear, palate expanders, and retainers. They hold the teeth in position and allow the jawbone to grow properly.
- Invisalign: They are clear aligners, which are nearly invisible. In the recent days, they are being widely used to correct malocclusion issues as they are very effective and also undetectable. They do not affect the smile of a person, like braces, which are easily visible.