Orthodontics: An Overview

Orthodontics is a special form of dentistry that exists to fix or prevent crooked teeth, issues with the spacing of the teeth, and various types of “bad bites” such as overbites, underbites, etc. Many people may assume that orthodontics is purely an aesthetic practice, but in fact it not only does it improve the appearance of the smile, it also aids the function, stability, and health of the smile as well. Orthodontic treatments help to straighten out wayward teeth, improve the alignment of the jaws, and even mitigate the symptoms of some sleep issues. Though orthodontics were originally associated with preteens and teenagers, nowadays orthodontic treatments are often used for adults too due to their many benefits.

What Conditions Does Orthodontics Treat?

At Empress Walk Dental, we recommend orthodontic treatment for patients who exhibit the following issues:

  • Misplaced, crowded, spaced, protruding or blocked out (possible impacted)teeth
  • Bad jaw alignment (sometimes called underbite, overbite, or open bite), which can lead to the teeth meeting incorrectly or not meeting at all, or even to temporomandibular joint disorders (also known as TMD or TMJ)
  • Losing baby teeth too early or too late, which sometimes leads to improper spacing of teeth, overcrowding, and disfiguration
  • Problems with chewing and biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Grinding or clenching the teeth
  • Unevenness or disproportion or asymmetry in the shape of the face
  • Behaviors or habits like finger sucking, lip wedging, and tongue thrusting that can cause teeth to stick out and/or jaws to grow in undesirable ways
  • The desire for a total mouth makeover or full mouth reconstruction
  • Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea and/or snoring
  • Biting the inside of the cheek
  • Not wearing mouth guards or other protective gear when playing sports or participating in other athletic activities
  • Problems stemming from tooth injury

Why Do I Need Orthodontic Treatments for These Issues? Why Can’t I Just Leave Them Alone?

If left untreated, these issues can lead to several unpleasant consequences, including but not limited to:
• Improper oral hygiene, which can then result in gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss, all of which can result in expensive dental bills and additional health problems
• An unattractive appearance, which makes it harder to get a job or excel in social situations
• Jaw problems such as TMJ, which usually require more extensive treatment and, in some cases, surgery

• Earaches, neck and shoulder pain
• Difficulty with chewing and speaking
• Breathing and sleeping problems like snoring
• Abnormal wear and tear on tooth enamel
• Migraines and other headaches
• Lack of self-confidence

The Many Benefits of Orthodontics

Misaligned jaws and crooked teeth can disrupt many different parts of everyday life, from talking to eating, and so many times it is categorized as a restorative issue. In addition to addressing health concerns, orthodontics can also help improve the appearance of the teeth and jaws. Research shows that a beautiful smile makes one seem friendly, approachable, and trustworthy. This feature can make a huge difference in a variety of important life situations, from dating to job interviews and more. Because of these factors, orthodontics can also be associated with cosmetic dentistry.

Your Empress Walk Dental orthodontist will help you improve both your health and your smile by repositioning your teeth and their roots. Due to improvements in orthodontic technologies, we are able to produce results with more comfort and less treatment time than ever before.

When orthodontics is combined with maxillofacial surgery, it can also work wonders to improve your appearance by sculpting the jaw, lips, and neck into a more aesthetically pleasing alignment. As an added bonus, when the teeth are well-aligned, it becomes much simpler to maintain good oral hygiene habits.

To summarize, some of the benefits of orthodontic treatment are:
• Healthier gums and teeth with fewer spaces for bacteria to accumulate and grow
• A beautiful, aesthetically pleasing smile
• Relief from certain sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea or snoring
• Straighter teeth
• A better bite
• Increased self-esteem and confidence in both professional and social situations

Bottom line: orthodontics has a plethora of benefits from both the health and aesthetics points of view that greatly improve the patient’s quality of life.

Orthodontics Sounds Great! How Can I Get Started?

All of our orthodontic patients begin their path to treatment with an initial consultation. At the consultation, your Empress Walk Dental orthodontist will perform a thorough examination of your mouth, including the form and function of your teeth and jaws, using photos of the outside and inside of the mouth, cephalometric and panoramic X-rays, and impressions/molds that will be used to create models that illustrate your tooth alignment and bite.

These methods of examining your mouth will give your orthodontist the information necessary to devise a customized treatment plan according to your specific goals and needs. Your orthodontist may recommend that you wear traditional braces, clear aligners, a retainer, or some combination of these to produce the ideal results.

What Are the Different Types of Orthodontic Treatment?

Our Empress Walk Dental orthodontists are trained to evaluate all aspects of a patient’s situation before making a treatment recommendation, so you can be sure that they will guide you to the best treatment option for you.

The two main types of braces are traditional metal braces and Invisalign braces, a system of clear plastic aligners. Depending upon the extent of the patient’s needs, other treatment strategies such as space maintainers, palatal expanders, and/or computer-generated appliances may also be used.

Here are the basics for each of the treatment methods mentioned above:

  • Traditional braces – these are what most people think of when they hear the word “braces,” and they are still the most common form of orthodontic treatment. Traditional braces use brackets and wires to move the teeth into the desired positions and hold them in place. The brackets serve to connect the wires between the teeth, and they come in three varieties: metal, ceramic, or plastic. Metal brackets are the strongest and are most commonly used for those with complex bite problems, though they are not the most aesthetically pleasing option. Ceramic brackets appeal to some patients because they are usually either tooth-colored or clear, making them less noticeable. Still another, albeit less common, option is to attach the brackets to the back side of the teeth, an option known as “inside braces,” so that it isn’t as noticeable to other people that the patient is wearing braces. Traditional braces can be fixed onto the teeth using special orthodontic cement which can only be removed by a trained orthodontic professional, or they can be fashioned in a removable form. If you get the removable kind, though, your orthodontist will certainly advise that you not take it out repeatedly because doing so will greatly impede the progress of your treatment.
  • Plastic aligners – sometimes known as “invisible braces,” plastic aligners are customized to each individual patient’s mouth and can be taken out for eating, brushing, and flossing. Each aligner is worn for two weeks before the patient progresses to the next model. This alternative to traditional braces is appealing both aesthetically in terms of not being easily noticeable and practically because food particles and bacteria cannot get trapped in this type of braces. Many patients with mild spacing issues find that they prefer this option over traditional braces. On the other hand, aligners do not work well for children or adolescents who do not have all of their permanent teeth yet because their mouths are still growing and changing, and the aligners are simply not strong enough to counteract the natural growth forces within the mouth.
  • Space maintainersspace maintainers fill the gap in the mouth that is formed when a patient’s baby tooth comes out prematurely and keep the other teeth from taking over the space, which can cause crowding, crooked teeth, and other issues in the future when the permanent tooth comes in. In some cases, a custom-fit space maintainer can help patients avoid orthodontic treatment entirely by preventing problems before they occur. These appliances are small and most patients find that once they are in the mouth, they hardly notice them at all.
  • Palatal expanders – for some patients, their mouths are not wide enough for proper jaw alignment. The palatal expander is a device that is used to widen the upper arch of the mouth to serve as a foundation for later treatment. These devices are most often used on children ages 8-10 because of their developmental stage.
  • Removable computer-generated appliances – in certain rare cases, computer-generated appliances can be used in place of braces to treat some problems. Due to the unique nature of these appliances, they can be quite costly. Removable appliances with wires may also factor into your treatment depending upon your specific needs.

How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Take?

      At your second visit, the orthodontist will discuss the plan with you and give you a rough estimate of the length of the treatment period. The standard length of time for orthodontic treatments is two years, but there are many factors that influence how long treatment will take, including:

    • The patient’s age
    • The extent of the work that needs to be done
    • The patient’s willingness and ability to follow the prescribed treatment plan

For example, some of our younger patients may complete their treatments faster than older patients because their young bones are more malleable to the shifting that orthodontics seeks to accomplish. In some cases, the patient’s malocclusion may be so serious that oral or maxillofacial surgery is necessary as a prerequisite to the orthodontic treatment, meaning that the time to have the surgery and recover from it must be factored into the treatment plan. Patients who keep up with proper oral hygiene and who comply with all instructions from their orthodontist generally are able to conclude their treatments in less time than patients who do not. In addition to the approximately two year period of wearing orthodontic appliances such as braces, most patients also wear a retainer for a certain length of time following the conclusion of the initial treatment phase. The retainer holds the teeth in their new position. Some patients wear their retainer for one year, and others must wear a retainer at night for the rest of their lives in order to avoid reversing effects of the treatment.

No matter how long your treatment ends up taking, we are confident that you will love the beautiful, healthy smile that you will have as a result of the power of orthodontics!

If you’re ready to schedule your orthodontic consultation at one of our convenient Toronto or North York locations, or if you just have questions about braces, give Empress Walk Dental a call at 416-250-8000 today!

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Our Office

5095 Yonge St, Unit A1, North York, ON M2N 6Z4

Phone

(416) 250-8000

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