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Orthodontic treatment primarily corrects teeth and/or jaw misalignment. The type of treatment needed depends on age and the severity of the issues.
Some common conditions orthodontic treatment can address include:
Malocclusion (teeth misalignment) is when the teeth are not appropriately positioned in the upper and lower jaws. Some common types of malocclusions include:
Dental crowding is when your mouth doesn’t have enough space to fit your teeth properly. This can lead to overlapping or misaligned teeth.
Jaw irregularities can also lead to problems with your bite. Bite problems can cause problems like difficulty chewing or speaking. They can also lead to headaches and facial pain.
Orthodontic treatment can correct jaw irregularities and create a more balanced bite.
All orthodontic treatments address different issues. Here are some of the most common:
The most common teeth-straightening option is braces. They consist of brackets and wires that gradually move your teeth to their desired position.
Different braces are available, such as:
Clear aligners are another option for those who don’t want to wear traditional braces. They’re a removable and virtually invisible alternative to braces. You must wear clear aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day.
There are two types of clear aligners; in-office and at-home. Here’s a quick comparison:
After completing treatment with braces and clear aligners, you'll have to wear retainers. Retainers help you keep teeth straight and are typically worn while you sleep.
There are two different types of retainers available:
Other functional orthodontic appliances are available to help you achieve your desired results. They aid braces and aligners to correct more complex cases.
Functional appliances can be fixed or removable. Fixed appliances stay in your mouth until treatment is complete, while removable appliances can be taken out for cleaning and eating.
Examples of functional orthodontic appliances include:
Orthodontic treatment differs for every age group.
For example, some children need treatment before all of their permanent teeth have grown in. Others may be able to wait until their teenage years, especially if they only have mild dental crowding.
Orthodontists recommend beginning check-ups around 6 or 7. During this stage of life, children have a mixture of baby teeth and permanent teeth (mixed dentition phase).
Depending on the severity of misalignment, some children need early treatment before all of their permanent teeth grow in.
In particular, your child may be a candidate for early treatment if they have:
All of the above conditions are considered relatively serious bite problems. Treating these conditions early (while the child still has growth potential the orthodontist can harness during treatment) can help prevent the need for surgical correction later.
Many pre-teens, teens, and young adults seek orthodontic treatment. This is the most common age group to undergo treatment because all permanent teeth have likely grown in.
Young adults don’t have fully developed jaws yet. This makes treatment easier since the teeth and jaw can move more freely.
There are many reasons why treatment is beneficial at this age. Some benefits include:
Most children can wait until their teenage years (or later) to start treatment because most have mild to moderate teeth misalignment.
Orthodontic treatment isn’t limited to teenagers and young adults. Older people can still opt for orthodontic treatment to improve their smile and overall quality of life.
Treatment for adults varies depending on needs and case complexity. Having realistic expectations and being committed to the treatment plan is essential for achieving the best results.
For older adults, treatment plans might be more comprehensive. This is because older adults must consider factors such as bone density and gum health.
There are different types of orthodontic treatments available. Each treatment is customized to fit each person’s needs.
Orthodontic treatment is essential for:
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