What Is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the area of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of irregularities of the teeth, jaws and face.
The technical term for these problems is “malocclusion”, which means “bad bite”. Most malocclusions are inherited, but some are acquired.
Inherited problems include buck teeth, crowding of teeth, gaps between teeth, cleft palate and a wide range of other irregularities of the jaws and face.
Acquired malocclusion can be the result of thumb or finger sucking, tongue thrusting, dental disease, premature loss of primary or permanent teeth and also damage to the teeth or jaws as a result of an accident.
Why Straighten Teeth?
The value of a beautiful smile should never be underestimated. Prominent or unsightly teeth can cause embarrassment and affect a person’s self-esteem.
Crowded or crooked teeth can be more difficult to clean and in some people this makes them more prone to tooth decay and gum disease.
Some malocclusion will lead to increased tooth wear. Upper front teeth that are very prominent have a greater risk of being chipped or knocked out in an accident.
Through orthodontic treatment people can have more attractive smiles, greater self-confidence and improved dental health.
How Are Teeth Straightened?
Simple problems may be treated with removable plates, but most problems are treated with fixed appliances or “braces”. Sometimes headgear (night-brace) is also needed. When there is a severe mismatch of the jaws, a combination of orthodontic treatment and surgical reposition of one or both jaws may need to be considered. Modern braces are quite unobtrusive. They may be made of metal, clear plastic or ceramic material and are glued directly onto the teeth. Fitting braces is painless and does not damage the teeth.
There may be some discomfort for the first few days at the start, but this is usually managed with normal pain relief medication.
When To Start & How Long Is Treatment?
Although some problems may need to be treated at a young age, most orthodontic treatment will normally be delayed until most of the adult teeth are in place and the jaws are more fully developed.
There is no upper age limit and adults can also benefit from orthodontic treatment, so it’s never too late.
The time orthodontic treatment takes depends on the complexity of the problem, growth of the mouth and face and how well a patient co-operates. A plate might need to be worn for 2-6 months, while braces are usually worn for 18-24 months. For adults it may take a little longer.
Some individuals respond to treatment faster than others, but the patients who make the quickest progress is those who are keen and co-operate fully during their treatment.
What Happens When Braces Come Off?
Following the removal of braces, teeth have a tendency to rebound towards their original positions and possibly shift as a result of continuing growth and ageing of the face and jaws. To minimize this, retainer appliances will usually be fitted to hold the teeth in their new position for a while.
Patients who do not faithfully wear their retainers often experience shifting of their teeth.
During this period of retention, the dentist will continue to monitor the treatment outcome. This is an important phase of treatment and requires good co-operation.
What Will It Cost?
The cost of treatment will depend on the complexity of the problem. Because many visits are usually required over an extended period of time, the overall cost may seem high.
However, you can be assured that your dentist will give you maximum value by using the most suitable and cost effective technique to treat your problems.
You should be quoted a fee prior to treatment commencing, which usually includes all appliances, retainers, adjustments and checks. You will be offered payment plans to spread the cost of treatment.
If you have any questions about a treatment plan or fee quoted please feel free to make an appointment with Dr. Sim and Dr. Chua at our clinic.