If you or your children have crooked teeth, an overbite or an underbite, chances are you will benefit greatly from orthodontic treatment. These problems can cause more issues than just lowered confidence. At Durham Dental Centres, we offer orthodontic treatment and braces to Ajax and the surrounding areas so that our patients will not only feel confident in their smile but also have a smile that allows for proper chewing and speech.
Our board certified orthodontist provides outstanding orthodontic care to patients of all ages. Whether your teen wants a straighter smile or you’re concerned about the functionality of your jaw, contact us at one of our three locations for a consultation with our orthodontist.
Understanding Orthodontics: Straightening Out Your Smile
Malocclusion is the technical term describing the improper fit and alignment of the teeth and jaws. It can be divided into 2 categories: “crooked teeth” or a “poor bite”. Malocclusion may be caused by:
Traits such as jaw size and tooth size are inherited but they are often in conflict. For example, you may have a small jaw but large teeth, which causes crowding. Conversely, you may have a large jaw and small teeth, causing your teeth to be widely spaced or “drift” out of place. Other inherited traits include: missing teeth, teeth that erupt in the wrong place (transposed with other teeth) or congenital defects, such as a cleft palate or severely underdeveloped upper or lower jaw.
Oral habits such as thumb or finger sucking, pacifier use and possibly mouth breathing are related to malocclusion.
Tooth loss from accidents or decay can cause the remaining teeth to drift into new positions.
Mild malocclusion causes no functional problems and little cosmetic concern, while severe cases may cause difficulty eating and speaking, and can be a source of embarrassment.
Crowding is the most common type of malocclusion. In children, early crowding of their permanent teeth may prevent the remaining teeth from coming in properly. However, mild crowding may be corrected naturally as the child’s jaw grows. You orthodontist will be able to evaluate your specific condition.
With or without correction through braces, the teeth have a natural tendency to drift towards the front of the jaw. As a result, 65% of adults eventually end up with crowed, lower front teeth.
Symptoms of Malocclusion
The most common symptom of malocclusion is crooked or protruding teeth. Physical symptoms of malocclusion are rare; however, you can look for the following:
In children, permanent teeth may come in (erupt) out of their normal position
Difficulty in chewing due to bite alignment
Biting the cheeks or the roof of the mouth
Pain in the jaws or facial muscles
In adults, symptoms will remain the same or worsen over the years. To be sure, it is recommended to have your dentist assess your bite.
Orthodontic Treatment for Malocclusion
The goal of orthodontic treatment for malocclusion is to reposition the teeth into a proper bite while maintaining or improving your appearance. The most common way this is done is through braces. At our Ajax, Pickering and Whitby locations, we offer conventional braces as well other orthodontic appliances.
During the childhood or teens years, your orthodontist will take advantage of your child’s growth spurts to guide permanent teeth into place and guide the jaw’s growth.
For adults, in addition to the use of appliances such as braces, adjustments may be made by grinding tooth tips or providing space maintainers to counteract the effects of premature tooth loss. In some cases, orthodontic treatment can be avoided by using dental crowns or veneers.
In severe cases, surgery may be the only viable treatment. Orthognathic surgery is performed for severe jaw-related problems once the jaw has stopped growing.
Don’t want to be a “metal-mouth”?
Today’s orthodontists can often offer adults and children a selection of aesthetically pleasing options. These include “invisible” braces, clear braces and wires, and may also include appliances worn only at night or on a limited basis. Ask your orthodontist about the pros and cons of these options for your condition.
Caring for Your Braces
The success of your orthodontic treatment depends on your ability to care for your appliance and follow your orthodontist’s instructions.
If it is not possible to keep appointments, practise careful dental hygiene and wear appliances as directed, or if your child is too immature to take on the responsibility, consider starting treatment at a later time.
Your braces will require special care. This may include the following:
Avoid eating sticky and hard foods such as gum, taffy and nuts.
Taking vitamins with fluoride
Using a retainer as often and for as long as is required
Carefully brushing after each meal or snack
Stopping any oral habits, such as thumb sucking, which may have contributed to the malocclusion