Do I need braces? Who needs Orthodontic Treatment?
Anyone who experiences tooth misalignment and poor bite problems needs orthodontic treatment. Sometimes, tooth extraction or surgery may be required in combination with orthodontic treatment to correct crooked teeth.
There are two classes of orthodontic braces: removable appliances and fixed appliances. The type of brace used depends on the extent of the problem and the person’s age.
The main objective of orthodontic treatment in children is realignment of permanent teeth. The most common dental problem encountered by this group is crowding, a form of malocclusion where there is insufficient room for teeth. In order to relieve crowding, sometimes extraction is required to make room for other teeth. The length of treatment can be 1-2 years or more. After orthodontic treatment, retainers are worn for years to stabilize the teeth.
So long as there is blood supply to the gums, the teeth will be able to move under pressure. The only exception is when there is ankylosis, where the tooth becomes cemented to the bone as a result of a severe knock. The rate of cell turnover (cell division & replacement) is slower in adults, so the body’s response to injury is a little slower. Blood supply in adults is also less abundant. As a result, orthodontic treatment in adults takes a little longer. However, adults tend to be more diligent and careful with their orthodontic appliances, and faithfully wear their appliances or elastics when required. It is no surprise then that some non-compliant children could have prolonged orthodontic treatment, longer than it takes most adults. See also: What sort of retainer do I need? and Clear plastic aligners
When to see an Orthodontist?
Age is not a major concern for orthodontic treatment. Anyone who experiences the following condition should see a dentist:
- Difficulty of biting, swallowing and chewing. See also: Open bite
- Delayed loss of baby teeth. See also: Retained deciduous teeth
- Oral habits such as thumb-sucking, lip biting. See also: What happens if you keep sucking your thumb?
- Jaw problems such as shifting and unstable bite, or overbite problems
- Crowding and protruding teeth. See also: Over-protrusion of teeth
- Protruded lips. See Lip prominence
- Facial asymmetry, jaw mismatch. See also: prognathic lower jaw
- Teeth clenching and excessive grinding. See also: Enamel wear
See also: Should I remove my wisdom teeth?