Orthodontics is a specialized area of dentistry that aims to improve the appearance, function and stability of the teeth and improve the overall balance of the face. The purpose of orthodontics is to correct malocclusions (improper bites), caused by a combination of tooth and/or jaw misalignment, and the wide variety of problems they can cause. In other words, it's about much more than just straight teeth!
Malocclusions can affect the way you smile, chew and clean your teeth. They can have a big impact on your self-esteem and how you feel about your smile. Orthodontic treatment can improve your long-term dental health and physical health, and may also eliminate the need for more extensive dental work later in life.
At Louisiana Dental Center, our staff of highly trained orthodontists is committed to providing the highest level of orthodontic care in a calm, caring and professional atmosphere. Ultimately, through orthodontics, we provide our patients with an attractive, well-balanced smile and a more healthy dental life.
The following are some of the possible benefits of orthodontics:
- Increased cleanability of the teeth reduces chances of dental decay, gum problems, bad breath and unsightly staining of the teeth. This might even prevent the eventual loss of some teeth.
- Improvement in the way the upper and lower teeth bite with each other can reduce excessive wear and chipping of teeth.
- Reduction in protrusion of the upper teeth can reduce chance of damage from trauma.
- Correction of bite and jaw relationships can greatly improve the range of oral functions function with reduction in muscle stress.
- An improvement in the appearance of the teeth leading to greater self-esteem and motivation to preserve dental health.
Common orthodontic problems
Crowding occurs when teeth have insufficient room to erupt from the gum because the jaw is too small to accommodate the teeth, or the teeth are just too big. Crowding can often be corrected by expansion, and many times, tooth removal can be avoided.
Upper front teeth protrude (overjet)
This is a very common problem. Often the upper teeth appear to protrude, but it is the lower jaw and teeth that are set back. Sometimes the upper front teeth protrude so much that closing the lips requires special muscle effort and even a risk of damage to the teeth through trauma.
This is when there is too much vertical overlap of the front teeth, with upper teeth extending well over the lower teeth. It can lead to crowding of the lower teeth as they have no space to move into as the jaw grows. Overbites can be so deep that the lower teeth actually bite into the roof of the mouth, causing potentially serious gum problems later.
Crossbite is when the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth, or often behind the lower front teeth. This can cause tooth wear, misaligned jaw growth and interfere with the eruption and alignment of other teeth. Perfect meshing together of the teeth is not totally critical to long-term dental health, but where possible it helps in allowing the teeth to fit together better overall.
Proper chewing is affected by this type of bite, in which the upper and lower front teeth do not overlap at all and it is not possible to achieve a scissoring bite action with the front teeth to eat food. Open bite may also contribute to a number of unwanted habits, such as tongue thrusting.
An underbite is when the lower front teeth protrude beyond the upper teeth. An underbite can cause uneven wear of the front teeth. Sometimes it can be corrected at an early stage and then monitored. It is often an inherited problem where the lower jaw outgrows the upper jaw which tends to develop more throughout the mid to later teenage years.
Missing a tooth or multiple teeth is a very common orthodontic problem. Unfortunately it is often a problem that runs through families. There is often good news with this problem, as many times the teeth would have been very crowded had all been present so the missing teeth don't need to be replaced, and orthodontic treatment can correct any of the alignment issues. Sometimes the missing teeth are ones that have cosmetic value, but again don't worry because effective orthodontic treatment can resolve these issues.
Spacing problems may be caused by missing teeth, narrow teeth, strong ligament fibers and protrusive tongue habits.
Mismatched dental midlines
This problem may be caused when the back bite does not fit and match appropriately, which may negatively impact jaw and proper dental function, or due to crowding, missing teeth and rotations leading to mismatch of the upper and lower central teeth.
Sometimes the teeth do not erupt into the mouth in the way that they should. This is often a result of crowding, early loss of baby teeth, disruptions in the normal eruption process and sometimes just an inherited family problem. The good news is that impacted teeth can be corrected, but early detection is a huge benefit.
Thumb sucking and other habits
The ongoing habit of thumb and finger sucking can affect the eruption and development of the front and nearby teeth and supporting bone. In general the longer the habit persists the more correction is needed through treatment.
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