Orthodontics consists of the branch of dentistry which corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned in an improper way. Crooked teeth and teeth which do not fit together correctly are usually tougher to keep clean and are at high risk of being lost early due to the possibility of tooth decay and periodontal disease, and thus, can cause extra stress on the chewing muscles which can lead to headaches and migraines. Teeth which are crooked or not placed rightly can also have the potential of detracting from ones appearance. Advantages of orthodontic treatment are that one can have a healthier mouth, a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, and lastly, teeth which are more likely to last a whole lifetime. If an individual has any of the following, they are likely to need orthodontic treatment: An overbite, where the upper front teeth lie too far over the lower teeth. Secondly, an underbite, where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth too far back. Thirdly, a crossbite where the upper teeth do not come down slightly in front of the lower teeth when biting together normally. An open bite, which is a space between the biting surfaces of the front and/or side teeth when the back teeth bite together. There can be crowding, which is when there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate, and there can be spacing, which is a result of missing teeth or teeth not filling up the mouth.
Procedures of orthodontic treatments consist of the follows:
- Braces – These consist of bands, wires, and/or brackets. These are fixed around the teeth or tooth, and are used as anchors to the appliance.
- Special fixed appliances – These are used for the purpose of controlling thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, and are attached to the teeth through the use of bands.
- Fixed space maintainers – If a baby tooth ends up being lost prematurely, a space maintainer is used in order to keep the space open until the permanent tooth will erupt. A band is thus, attached to the tooth next to the empty space and then, a wire is extended to the tooth on the other side of the space.
- Headgear – This consists of a strap being placed around the back of the head and attached to a metal wire in front. The purpose of a headgear is to slow the growth of the upper jaw, and to hold back the back teeth where they are while the front teeth are pulled back.
Side effects of orthodontic treatments can potentially consist of decalcification effects on the enamel surfaces of the teeth, which can then be seen as white spot lesions. Secondly, teeth can decay easily if oral hygiene is poor, or if the length of treatment is too long. Gum inflammation can take place, and gum thinning can occur if tooth movement is uncontrolled during orthodontic treatment.
It is important to remember that while there are numerous side effects which are possible due to orthodontic treatments, it is uncommon and rare for serious injury to be caused to patients. Thus, it can be concluded that patients are most likely to benefit from these treatments.
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