Our team at Small Bites is able to offer a full range of preventive and corrective orthodontic treatments.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry concerned with the growth of the teeth, jaws and face. Irregularities of the teeth and jaws can be corrected, improving the way they both look and function.
What kinds of problems can be treated using Orthodontics?
- Crowding – teeth may be crooked where the jaw is narrow and there is lack of space.
- Gaps between teeth.
- Protruding upper front teeth.
- Incorrect bite – which may cause problems chewing or place excessive pressure on the teeth or gums.
- Crossbites – where upper teeth are behind or inside the corresponding lower teeth in the bite.
- Impacted teeth – where teeth come through in the wrong position or do not erupt at all.
- Asymmetrical smile.
- Abnormalities in the growth or relationship of the upper and lower jaws.
What are some of the benefits of Orthodontic Treatment?
- Improvement in appearance which can also improve self-esteem.
- Straight teeth are easier to clean and therefore the risk of decay and gum disease is reduced.
- Correcting way teeth bite together can enable normal chewing and also eliminate other problems, such as headaches, caused by an incorrect bite.
- Correcting protruding front teeth reduces their risk of damage from accidental trauma.
- Preparation for advance dental treatment, such as implants, crowns or bridges.
When should children have an Orthodontic Assessment?
Taking your child for regular, routine dental check-ups will enable the dentist to monitor their growth and development and look out for any potential orthodontic problems. This is especially important when the permanent teeth start to come through from around the age of 6 years onwards. If there are any concerns, your child may be referred for a full assessment by an orthodontist. We have orthodontists on our team who have regular clinics at Small Bites so that you do not have to travel elsewhere.
Traditionally, orthodontic treatment has been carried out when the majority of the permanent teeth have come through (from age 11 or 12 years onwards). However, some problems may benefit from earlier diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention, when a child’s permanent teeth are still coming through can often reduce of avoid the need for more complex treatment later on.
What things should be considered before choosing orthodontic treatment?
- It is important to have a full assessment, including x-rays and taking impressions to make a plaster study model of your teeth, in order to plan the best type of treatment.
- Orthodontic treatment takes time, anything from six months up to two and a half years, depending on the type of treatment.
- Commitment and cooperation is very important for treatment to be successful. This means that you would need to keep regular appointments, every 2-6 weeks, for checking or adjusting your appliance. If you have a removable brace it is vital that it is worn for the full time that your dentist or orthodontist advises.
- Wearing braces can make cleaning your teeth more difficult, so dental hygiene is extra important during treatment.
- Retainers are usually required to be worn for a long period of time after treatment has finished. There are various types of retainers which prevent your teeth moving back into the wrong position.
Treatment and Brace Types
This is the traditional “train-track type” brace. It consists of a flexible wire fitted onto brackets which are bonded to the teeth. It can only be used for permanent teeth and is able to move teeth slowly and accurately.
There are many types of removable braces. As the name suggests the brace can be removed for cleaning and in other circumstances but it is important that it is worn at all times that your dentist advises.
Also called “invisible braces,” aligners are made from clear BPA-free plastic. A series of aligners are custom made and each one is worn for two weeks. The aligners should be worn all the time, except for eating and cleaning. Treatment can be started only after all the baby teeth have fallen out and usually takes between six and eighteen months to complete. They are popular with patients who dislike the appearance of traditional braces.
This removable appliance has nickel-titanium coil springs which power aligner bow wires which rest on the inner and outer aspects of the front teeth. This produces gentle forces which act over a long range of movement to guide the teeth into their new position more quickly than other methods. It can be used to correct mild to moderate orthodontic problems for front teeth only and treatment usually takes between 6 and 18 weeks.
Primary teeth maintain the spaces into which the permanent teeth will erupt. If baby teeth are lost too early other teeth may tilt into or take up the vacant space, forcing permanent teeth to come in crooked. A space maintainer can be fitted immediately after a tooth is extracted to ensure that the space is kept until the new permanent tooth comes through. It may be fixed to the teeth or removable.
Correction of Cross Bites
When upper teeth are behind or inside the corresponding lower teeth in the bite it is called a crossbite. It is better to correct crossbites at an earlier stage they can cause chewing problems or damage to the teeth.
To a correct a crossbite of one or two upper teeth, a removable appliance with a spring which pushes the tooth forwards is often used.
Where back teeth are in crossbite, a palatal expander may be used. This brace contains a screw in the centre of the palate which is turned slightly once or twice a day to gently widen the arch of the upper jaw until the teeth are in the correct position.
Habit Breaker Appliance
This can be used for children have a persistent thumb or finger sucking habit after other methods of stopping the habit have already been tried. The appliance is fixed to the back teeth and has a blunt wire which sits behind the upper front teeth. With the habit breaker in place, attempting to suck the thumb becomes uncomfortable thus discouraging the habit. It also prevents any suction force being placed on the teeth.
Also called Functional Appliances, these types of brace are used when the upper teeth further forward than normal in relation to the lower teeth. They are best used prior to or during the adolescent growth spurt, which typically occurs around 11-14 years in boys and 10-13 years in girls. Functional appliances can help correct the growth of the jaws by utilizing the power of the jaw muscles. This may avoid the need for extractions and more complex treatment when the child is older. They are worn for at least 9 to 12 months may be fixed or removable.
Orthognathic Treatment (Jaw Surgery)
For those who have a large discrepancy in the size or position of the jaw bones, treatment with braces alone will not be able to correct the bite. In these cases, surgery is required in combination with orthodontics.