What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics deals with the arrangement of teeth and the way teeth come together (the bite). Orthodontic treatment aims at bringing teeth and jaws into a harmonious position with the face. This may improve the appearance, oral health and function. Positive results can be achieved by informed and cooperative patients.

Teeth that requires orthodontics treatment
    Before orthodontic treatment
Teeth that has undergone orthodontic treament
     After orthodontic treatment

Why do I need braces?

People have their teeth straightened for a variety of reasons. These include: dental health, appearance, speech, better chewing etc. Among these, dental health is the most important. Poorly aligned or crooked teeth are difficult to keep clean. They often give rise to decay and gum problems.

Orthondontic treatment takes time.

Braces used in orthodontic treatment need time to work. This generally takes two to three years. The braces are fixed permanently on the teeth until the completion of treatment. Special appliances called retainers are fitted after braces treatment to hold the teeth in their new positions.

For treatment to progress smoothly, you need to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing regularly, especially after every meal and snack. Remember to bring a travel toothbrush with you when you are not at home. Avoid eating hard, sticky foods and keep to your orthodontic appointments faithfully.

When is the best time to start treatment?

This depends on the type of orthodontic problem. For jaw-related cases, treatment generally starts while the child is still growing. This is between the ages of 9 and 11. For mal-aligned teeth not related to jaw problems, treatment can generally be delayed until all the primary teeth (milk teeth) have changed to permanent ones.

There is no age limit for orthodontic treatment. Adults can also benefit from orthodontic treatment.

The First Consultation

On your first visit, the orthodontist will examine the general condition of your gum, teeth and jaws. Depending on your oral condition, he/she will advise you on the need for treatment. Other essential information, including the costs, type and duration of treatment will also be discussed. If treatment is recommended, special X-rays of the teeth and jaws will be taken for a more detailed diagnosis.

Alternatives to Orthodontic Treatment

For most people, orthodontic treatment is an elective procedure; this means they can choose to have or not have treatment. It is rare that teeth will be lost if treatment is not started. There are alternative solutions to orthodontic problems. These are: prosthodontic treatments using tooth veneers, crowns, bridges or dentures; or no treatment at all. The orthodontist will discuss the risks and benefits of each alternative with you.

Life won't be much different

Many people are worried about the pain and attention braces bring. Adapting to braces can be both easy and fast. Some mild discomfort will be experienced in the first week. Subsequently, you can eat or even play musical instruments as normal. Colour and transparent bands are available to add variety to the look of your braces.

Braces with colour
            Coloured bands
Braces without colour
       Tooth-coloured brackets

Points to Note on Orthodontic Treatment ---Factors known to influence treatment result

1. Poor Oral Hygiene

Teeth not kept clean during treatment increase the risk of tooth decay or creates white spots on the teeth. The gums and supporting bone may also become inflamed if bacterial plaque is not removed daily.

2. Failing to comply with the use of braces and accessories
This is the most common cause of inferior results and increased treatment time.

3. Missed appointments
Treatment time is lengthened. In addition, missing appointments may affect the quality of the end result.

Factors of an unpredictable nature, not within clinical control
Like all medical and dental treatment, orthodontic treatment has certain limitations and potential risks that you should be aware of. Do ask questions at the consultation, before treatment starts.

1. Damage to the nerve of the tooth
Sometimes, a tooth may have suffered a knock in a previous accident, or a tooth may have large fillings which can cause damage to the nerve of the root. Orthodontic tooth movement may aggravate these conditions and root canal treatment to remove the nerve of the root may be neccessary.

2. Root Shortening
In some patients, the roots of the teeth may be shortened during treatment. Usually, this is of no practical consequence, but sometimes, it may become a threat to the longevity of the tooth. If severe shortening occurs, treatment may have to be stopped before it is finished. Root shortening can occur with or without orthodontic treatment. Trauma, pressure from other teeth and endocrine disorders are other causes. Orthodontic treatment may increase this possibility.

3. Relapse
Teeth have a tendencyto return toward their original position; this is called a relapse. The use of retainers help prevent this. All parts of the body continue to change throughout life, including teeth. This is a long-term process that can lead to changes in the bite or in the position of the teeth. One common example is the crowding of the lower front teeth in some people as they age.

4. Abnormal growth and development
Growth disharmony and unusual tooth development are biological processes beyond the orthodontist's control. An unusual skeletal pattern and unfavorable grwoth may affect the final result. Surgical correction may sometimes be indicated during the course of orthodontic treatment.

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