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Orthodontics & Dental Health PDF Print E-mail
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry concerned with the proper positioning of jaws and teeth. Although straight teeth improve appearance, there is much more to orthodontics than a pleasing smile.
When most people think of orthodontics, they imagine children and metal mouths. This image has changed! Today, adult orthodontics is one of the fastest growing areas in dentistry. The American Association of Orthodontics estimates that about 25% of all orthodontic patients are adults. This is double the number from a decade ago. Orthodontics is no longer only a childrens’ specialty.

Modern orthodontists continue finding new ways to position teeth. Seldom are large metal rings (or wire bands) used around teeth; instead small brackets are sealed to the teeth. Miniature metal, or clear/tooth colored brackets can be nearly invisible.

Orthodontics (meaning "straight teeth") integrates with facial orthopedics, which is the branch of medical science concerned with bones, muscles and supporting tissues. Certainly, appearance is one very important reason to undergo orthodontic treatment. Since our self-concept is closely tied to our facial proportions, straight teeth do positively affect our self-esteem.

Health Benefits

Orthodontics impact our overall health and well being. Misaligned and crowded teeth can cause decay, infection, gum disease, loose teeth and jaw posture misalignment. The potential problems go beyond the mouth. An uneven bite can cause related health problems, such as headaches, dizziness, ear symptoms, neck discomfort and jaw joint (TMJ) disorders.

Many people do not realize the importance of a stable bite. When the upper and lower teeth close, they should fit together comfortably like the gears of a machine. When your bite is uneven, the muscles and jaw joint components must compensate. In these cases, the chewing muscles have to work harder and inappropriately to bring the teeth together. Muscles fatigue and become tired and strained, eventually becoming quite uncomfortable. This can cause problems in your face and jaw region, neck, head and ears.

Orthodontics is concerned not only with the teeth, but also with the jaw bones, the jaw joints (TMJ’s), supportive ligaments and the chewing muscles. The aim of orthodontic correction is to establish a correct, solid bite that is in harmony with the jaw muscles, and head-neck posture.

Muscles Move Teeth

Muscles play a key role: They are nature’s living orthodontic equalizers and thus influence the jaw muscles and teeth. Teeth are ever-changing. They can be altered and moved by muscular overload of the jaws, lips, tongue, and cheeks. Optimally, a balance of forces exists between the lips or cheeks on the outside, the tongue and closing muscles on the inside, and the teeth against each other. Any imbalances affect the growth comfort and position of the teeth and jaw. The good news is that the same elastic characteristics of bone that permit misdirected forces to displace the teeth and jaws can be favorable used by orthodontists to modify and correct them.

Functional Appliances

The use of functional appliances is one of the newer developments in orthodontics. In many cases, functional appliances can be used to alter the growth of the jawbone itself. Soft memory wires gently and effectively move the teeth. These appliances work with the muscles, tissues and surrounding structures. For instance, if your lower jaw is too small in relation to your upper jaws, a functional appliance might be used to expand and position the lower jaw (mandible) forward. This creates a better fit between the upper and lower teeth.

The dental term for a bad bite is "malocclusion". These are the three categories of malocclusion.

Class I –
The jaws are proportional and balanced. However, orthodontics may still be necessary if the teeth are crowded, rotated, in collision, in cross bite, or too far apart.

Class II –
The lower jaw is underdeveloped (genetic origin) or too far back in relationship to the upper jaw and mid-face.

Class III –
The lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw; this can be due to lower jaw excess, upper jaw deficiency, or some of each.

Correction At Any Age

Because living bone tissue is constantly being repaired and regenerated throughout life, there is no age limit for orthodontics. Orthodontic correction is an excellent way to correct a bad bite, while maintaining and optimizing your natural teeth.

Take time to understand your health; it is your most priceless possession and worth the investment and the benefits throughout your lifetime!

Source: TMData Resources

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