What Does an Orthodontist Do?
Orthodontists are specialized dentists whose expertise is in the misalignment of teeth. Teeth become misaligned for all kinds of reasons, including:
- Wide gaps
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMD)
Orthodontists can also help prevent or correct other bad bite issues and dental irregularities with comprehensive orthodontic treatment. This also helps patients with their improper speech or chewing abilities, unhealthy gums and teeth, mouth trauma, or excessive wear of any kind. Urban Orthodontists can meet with you and provide a comfortable diagnosis and will then talk about your misalignment and how to fix it.
To provide this care, orthodontists attend two or more years of specialized education after four years of dental school.
What Is Orthodontic Treatment?
Orthodontic treatments vary, depending on the issue and the best way to treat it. Oftentimes, an orthodontist uses fixed or removable appliances.
Fixed appliances include:
- Braces: These are pretty common in the United States and consist of bands, wires, and brackets. Bands hold everything in place and are attached to your teeth. Wires connect these bands to brackets attached to the front of your teeth. The orthodontist’s job is to monitor these components, usually every month. The tightening slowly moves the teeth towards a more aligned position in your mouth. Depending on the severity of the issue, braces can be worn from months to years.
- Space maintainers: When younger children lose teeth prematurely, an orthodontist might place a metal space maintainer in your child’s mouth for several years to keep the space open until the permanent tooth comes in.
- Other special fixed appliances: These are not usually the first option but can be used as a last resort when children don’t stop sucking their thumb or thrusting their tongue. Since the mouth damage is severe when these habits continue, appliances can be a painless, if uncomfortable, way of solving that problem.
Removable appliances include:
- Aligners: A popular and discreet alternative to braces, aligners are a great option, especially for adults. They align teeth like braces do but are virtually invisible without metal wires and brackets. You remove them while eating, brushing your teeth, and flossing.
- Plastic space maintainers: Similar to fixed space maintainers, these are made of plastic. Sometimes wire branches and an acrylic base go over your jaw. Either way, they’re placed in open spaces in your mouth for a short amount of time to keep the teeth apart.
- Splints: These jaw repositioning appliances are positioned on the top or lower jaw. They primarily treat temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders or pain. They do this by training the jaw to close in a better position.
- Lip and cheek bumpers: If you’re suffering from too much pressure on your teeth, it could be your lip and cheek muscles exerting pressure. After an examination, the orthodontist might solve this problem by suggesting bumpers to keep your lips and cheeks away from your teeth.
- Palatal expander: Sometimes an orthodontist will suggest that your upper jaw needs to be widened. An expander does this with a plastic plate that fits over the roof of your mouth.
- Retainers: Popular devices—most of which are removable—worn on the roof of the mouth. Before or after braces, they keep teeth from moving back to their original position.
- Headgear: Wearing headgear slows down the upper jaw’s growth. It also holds the back teeth in place while pulling back the front teeth.
Is Orthodontic Treatment Necessary?
Seeing an orthodontist for a comprehensive orthodontic treatment will not only make you look better, but it will also:
- Help prevent tooth decay.
- Help you avoid periodontal disease.
- Make it easier to chew and swallow food.
- Lessen the headaches caused by jaw and tooth issues.
- Treat TMJ disorders.
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