Orthodontics

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities (malocclusions*).  Orthodontic treatment is provided by an oral health care provider known as an Orthodontist, who has typically completed two to three years of additional training beyond dental school.

Recent years have brought about many changes within the dental industry, specifically with regards to orthodontic treatment and care.  Now more than ever patients are experiencing fewer incidences of cavities and missing teeth due to the heightened awareness of fluoride use and preventative dentistry.   This increasing awareness on the health and look of a patient’s smile has fueled the desire for many to seek out orthodontia not only as a medical necessity, but for cosmetic reasons as well.

Whether it’s traditional braces or custom made removable appliances, orthodontics can help you have the healthy, straight, beautiful smile you’ve been waiting for!

Give Yes Dental Centers a call today (310) 858-7373 and schedule your orthodontic consultation!

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is one of many dental specialties.  The word “orthodontics” is derived from the Greek words orthos, meaning proper or straight and odons meaning teeth.  Orthodontics is specifically concerned with diagnosing and treating tooth misalignment and irregularity in the jaw area.  Initially, orthodontic treatments were geared toward the treatment of teens and pre-teens, but these days around 30 percent of orthodontic patients are adults.

There are many advantages to well-aligned teeth, including easier cleaning, better oral hygiene, clearer speech and a more pleasant smile.  Though orthodontic treatment can be effective at any age, the American Dental Association suggests that an orthodontic assessment should be performed around the age of seven.  The earlier orthodontic treatment begins, the more quickly the problem can be successfully resolved.

What problems can be treated with orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a versatile branch of dentistry that can be used alone, or in combination with maxillofacial or cosmetic dentistry.

Here are some of the common conditions treated with orthodontics:

  • Anteroposterior deviations – The discrepancy between a pair of closed jaws is known as an anteroposterior discrepancy or deviation.  An example of such a discrepancy would be an overbite (where the upper teeth are further forward than the lower teeth), or an underbite (where the lower teeth are further forward then the upper teeth).
  • Overcrowding – Overcrowding is a common orthodontic problem.  It occurs when there is an insufficient space for the normal growth and development of adult teeth.
  • Aesthetic problems – A beautiful straight smile may be marred by a single misaligned tooth. This tooth can be realigned with ease and accuracy by the orthodontist.  Alternatively, orthodontists can also work to reshape and restructure the lips, jaw or the face.

Orthodontic Solutions

Orthodontics is a technologically advanced field which offers many sophisticated solutions to malocclusions and other cosmetic problems.  The orthodontist will generally perform a visual examination, panoramic x-rays and study models (bite impressions) in order to assess the exact nature of the discrepancy.

When a diagnosis has been made, there are a variety of orthodontic treatment options available.

Here is an overview of some of the most common treatments:

  • Fixed orthodontic braces – A metal or ceramic dental base is affixed to each tooth, and a dental wire is inserted through each base.  The orthodontist is able to gradually train the teeth into proper alignment by regularly adjusting the wire.  When the desired results are achieved, the fixed dental braces are completely removed.
  • Removable appliances – There are a wide range of removable appliances commonly used in orthodontics, including headgear that correct overbites, Hawley retainers that improve the position of the teeth even as the jawbone reforms, and facemasks which are used to correct an underbite.
  • Invisalign® – This is a newer, removable type of dental aligner that is completely transparent.  Invisalign® does not interfere with eating because of its removable nature, and mechanically works in the same way as the traditional metal dental braces.  Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

If you have any questions or concerns about orthodontics, please contact our office at the number above.

Who Can Benefit From Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry that is concerned with diagnosing, treating and preventing malocclusions (bad bites) and other irregularities in the jaw region and face.  Orthodontists are specially trained to correct these problems and to restore health, functionality and a beautiful aesthetic appearance to the smile.  Though orthodontics was originally aimed at treating children and teenagers, almost one third of orthodontic patients are now adults.  A person of any age can be successfully treated by an orthodontist.

A malocclusion (improper bite) can affect anyone at any age, and can significantly impact the individual’s clarity of speech, chewing ability and facial symmetry.  In addition, a severe malocclusion can also contribute to several serious dental and physical conditions such as digestive difficulties, TMJ, periodontal disease and severe tooth decay.  It is important to seek orthodontic treatment early to avoid expensive restorative procedures in the future.

What problems can orthodontics treat?

Orthodontics can treat a wide range of dental problems and in most cases, completely realign the teeth.  Orthodontists may work alone, or in combination with a maxillofacial surgeon.

The typical irregularities requiring orthodontic treatment are as follows:

  • Overcrowding – An overcrowded mouth means there is insufficient space within the jaw for all of the adult teeth to fit naturally.  Overcrowding may lead to displaced, rotated or completely misaligned teeth.
  • Overbite – An overbite refers to the protrusion of the maxilla (upper jaw) relative to the mandible (lower jaw).  An overbite gives the smile a “toothy” appearance and the chin looks like it has receded.
  • Underbite – An underbite, also known as a negative underjet, refers to the protrusion of the mandible (lower jaw) in relation to the maxilla (upper jaw).  An underbite makes the chin look overly prominent. Developmental delays and genetic factors generally cause underbites and overbites.

How can orthodontics help?

Orthodontic dentistry offers techniques which will realign the teeth and revitalize the smile.  There are several treatments the orthodontist may use, depending on the results of panoramic x-rays, study models (bite impressions) and a thorough visual examination.

Fixed dental braces can be used to expediently correct even the most severe case of misalignment.  These braces consist of metal or ceramic brackets which are affixed to each tooth and an archwire which is used to gradually move the teeth through the duration of the treatment.

Removable appliances include headgear (which consists of a metal wire device attached to customized braces), retainers, Invisalign® aligners (which are almost invisible to the naked eye), palate expanders and tooth movers.  Faceguards are generally used to correct developmental delays in both the upper and lower jaw, and palate expanders are used to combat overcrowding.

Whatever the dental irregularity or the age of the individual, orthodontic appliances can properly realign the teeth and create a beautiful smile.

If you have any questions or concerns about orthodontic treatments or how they can benefit you, please contact our office at the number above.

What is a Malocclusion?

A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship between the maxilla (upper arch) and the mandible (lower arch), or a general misalignment of the teeth.  Malocclusions are so common that most individuals experience one, to some degree.  The poor alignment of the teeth is thought to be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, or other factors in the early years.

Moderate malocclusion commonly requires treatment by an orthodontist.  Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in the treatment of malocclusions and other facial irregularities.

The following are three main classifications of malocclusion:

  • Class I – The occlusion is typical, but there are spacing or overcrowding problems with the other teeth.
  • Class II – The malocclusion is an overbite (the upper teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth).  This can be caused by the protrusion of anterior teeth or the overlapping of the central teeth by the lateral teeth.
  • Class III – Prognathism (also known as “underbite”) is a malocclusion caused by the lower teeth being positioned further forward than the upper teeth.  An underbite usually occurs when the jawbone is large or the maxillary bone is short.

Reasons for treating a malocclusion

A severe malocclusion may lead to skeletal disharmony of the lower face.  In a more extreme case, the orthodontist may work in combination with a maxillofacial dentist to reconstruct the jaw.  It is never too late to seek treatment for a malocclusion.  Children and adults alike have completed orthodontic realignment procedures and have been delighted with the resulting even, straight smile.

Here are some of the main reasons to seek orthodontic treatment for a malocclusion:

  • Reduced risk of tooth decay – A malocclusion often causes an uneven wear pattern on the teeth.  The constant wearing of the same teeth can lead to tooth erosion and decay.
  • Better oral hygiene – A malocclusion can be caused by overcrowding.  When too many teeth are competing for too little space, it can be difficult to clean the teeth and gums effectively.  It is much easier to clean straight teeth that are properly aligned.
  • Reduced risk of TMJ – Temporomandibular jaw syndrome (TMJ) is thought to be caused by a malocclusion.  Headaches, facial pains and grinding teeth during sleep all result from the excessive pressure to the temporomandibular joint.  Realigning the teeth reduces pressure, and eliminates these symptoms.

How is a malocclusion treated?

A malocclusion is usually treated with dental braces.  The orthodontist takes panoramic x-rays, conducts visual examinations and bite impressions of the whole mouth before deciding on the best course of treatment.  If a malocclusion is obviously caused by overcrowding, the orthodontist may decide an extraction is the only way to create enough space for the realignment.  However, in the case of an underbite, crossbite or overbite, there are several different orthodontic appliances available, such as:

  • Fixed multibracket braces – This type of dental braces consists of brackets cemented to each tooth, and an archwire that connects each one.  The orthodontist adjusts or changes the wire on a regular basis to train the teeth into proper alignment.
  • Removable devices – There are many non-fixed dental braces available to treat a malocclusion.  Retainers, headgear and palate expanders are amongst the most common.  Retainers are generally used to hold the teeth in the correct position whilst the jawbone grows properly around them.
  • Invisalign® – These dental aligners are removable and invisible to the naked eye.  Invisalign works in much the same way as fixed dental braces, but do not impact the aesthetics of the smile.  Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

If you have any questions about malocclusions, please contact our office at the number above.

Orthodontic Treatment Phases

Orthodontic treatment is highly predictable and immensely successful.  Depending on the severity of the malocclusion (bad bite) or irregularity, orthodontic treatments may occur in either two or three distinct phases.

The benefits of correcting misaligned teeth are many.  Straight teeth are pleasing to look at and greatly boost confidence and self esteem.  More importantly, properly aligned teeth enhance the biting, chewing and speaking functions of the jaw.  There are several types of irregularities, including:

  • Overbite – The upper teeth protrude further than or completely cover the lower teeth.
  • Underbite – The lower teeth protrude further than the upper teeth causing the chin to look prominent.
  • Crossbite – Some of the upper teeth may close inside the lower teeth rather than on the outside.
  • Overcrowding – Insufficient room on the arch causes some adult teeth to erupt incorrectly and become rotated.

The Phases of Orthodontic Treatment

Generally, orthodontic treatment takes between six and thirty months to complete.  The treatment time will largely depend on the classification of the malocclusion, the type of dental devices used to correct it and the perseverance of the patient.

Here is a general overview of the three major stages of treatment:

Phase 1 – The Planning Stage

The orthodontist makes an exact diagnosis in order to realign the teeth in the most effective and expedient way.  The first several visits may comprise of some of the following evaluations:

  • Medical and dental evaluations – Dental and physical problems tend to go hand in hand.  Problems in the oral cavity can lead to (or be caused by) medical problems.  The goal of this evaluation is to ensure that prior medical and dental issues are completely under control before treatment begins.
  • Study model (castings/bite impressions) – The patient is asked to bite down into a dental tray filled with a gel substance that hardens around the teeth.  The trays are removed from the teeth and filled with plaster to create models of the patient’s teeth.  Study models enable the orthodontist to scrutinize the position of each tooth, and how it relates to the other teeth.
  • Panoramic X-rays – X-rays are fantastic tools for viewing potential complications or pre-existing damage to the jaw joint.  X-rays also allow the orthodontist to see the exact position of each tooth and its corresponding root(s).
  • Computer generated images – Such images allow the orthodontist to treatment plan and examine how specific treatments may affect the shape of the face and symmetry of the jaw.
  • Photographs – Many orthodontists like to take “before, during and after” photographs of the face and teeth to assess how treatment is progressing, and the impact the treatment is having on the patient’s face shape.

Phase 2 – The Active Phase

All of the above diagnostic tools will be used to diagnosis and develop a customized treatment plan for the patient.  Next, the orthodontist will recommend custom orthodontic device(s) to gently move the teeth into proper alignment.  This orthodontic appliance may be fixed or removable.  Most commonly, traditional fixed braces are affixed, which utilizes individual dental brackets connected by an archwire.  Lingual braces are also fixed, but fit on the inside (tongue side) of the teeth to make them less visible.

Removable devices are an alternative to fixed braces.  Examples of removable devices include the Invisalign system, headgear and facemask.  These devices are designed to be worn for a specified amount of hours each day to expedite treatment.

Whatever the orthodontic device, the orthodontist will regularly adjust it to ensure adequate and continual pressure is being applied to the teeth.  It is essential to visit the orthodontist at the designated intervals and to call if part of the device breaks or becomes damaged.

Phase 3: The Retention Phase

When the teeth have been correctly aligned, fixed braces and removable devices will be removed and discontinued.  The most cumbersome part of the orthodontic treatment is now over. The orthodontist will next create a custom retainer.  The goal of the retainer is to ensure that the teeth do not begin to shift back to their original positions.  Retainers need to be worn for a specified amount of time per day for a specified time period.  During the retention phase, the jawbone will reform around the realigned teeth to fully stabilize them in the correct alignment.

If you have any questions about orthodontic treatments, please contact our office at the number above.

Invisalign®

One of the primary concerns people often have about dental braces is the aesthetic impact of the metalwork on their smile.  Especially for adults, the prospect of wearing unattractive metal braces for long periods of time can be very discouraging.  Invisalign® offers an almost invisible aligning system that straightens teeth fast and contains no metal.

Invisalign® treatment consists of a series of custom-made aligning trays.  The dentist changes the trays every several weeks to fit the new tooth configuration.  In addition to the reduced visual impact, Invisalign® aligning trays can be temporarily removed for important occasions – meaning that treatment duration is patient-controlled.  A great number of people report complete satisfaction with both the Invisalign® treatment and the stunning results.

What kind of bite problems can Invisalign® correct?

Invisalign® corrects the same dental problems as traditional metal braces; the only difference is that Invisalign® trays are almost invisible to the naked eye, and can be removed at will.

Here are some problems that are commonly corrected with Invisalign®:

  • Overcrowding – This occurs when there is too little space for the teeth to align normally in the mouth.  Overcrowding can cause tooth decay and increase the likelihood of gum disease.
  • Large gaps between teeth – This can sometimes occur because teeth are missing or because the jaw continues to grow abnormally.
  • Crossbite – This common dental problem occurs when one or multiple upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth.  As a consequence, uneven wear can lead to bone erosion and gum disease.
  • Overbite – This problem occurs when the upper teeth project further than, or completely cover, the lower teeth.  Eventually, jaw pain and TMJ may occur.
  • Underbite – This is the inverse of the overbite; the lower teeth project further than, or completely cover, the upper teeth.  Eventually, jaw pain and TMJ can occur.

What advantages does Invisalign® offer over traditional braces and veneers?

Traditional dental braces, Invisalign® aligning trays and dental veneers are three different ways to perfect the alignment of the teeth.  There are many different considerations to make when considering which treatment will be best, and each of these options works better in certain situations.

Invisalign® differs from traditional braces in that the aligning trays are fully removable.  This means that more discipline and commitment is required from the patient.  This is not usually a problem since the trays are comfortable and nearly invisible.  Almost identical results can be obtained by using either treatment.

Invisalign® is preferable to veneers in many cases because unlike veneers, Invisalign® actually straightens the teeth. Veneers are thin covers that the dentist permanently affixes to the teeth.  Teeth must be etched beforehand, meaning that to remove dental veneers, an alternative covering must be constructed.  In addition to being somewhat expensive, veneers can break and often last for less than 20 years.

What does Invisalign® treatment involve?

First, the dentist needs to devise an initial treatment plan before creating the special aligning trays.  Three-dimensional digital images are taken of the entire jaw.  These images allow the dentist to move specific teeth on the screen, view the jaw from different angles, and also foresee what the face might look like in years to come.  In essence, this technology can show how Invisalign® trays will change the facial aesthetics.

Once planning is complete, a unique set of aligners is made.  The total amount of aligners required varies with each individual case, but 20-29 sets per arch is typical.

What are some considerations when wearing Invisalign® trays?

Life with Invisalign® aligning trays may take several weeks to get used to.  The trays should be worn constantly, except when eating and drinking.  It is important to remove the trays when consuming food or drink because food can become trapped between the tray and the teeth, causing tooth decay.

Usually, new trays are necessary every two weeks and progress between appointments can be seen with the naked eye.  There is no doubt that Invisalign® aligning trays have revolutionized orthodontics.  Invisalign® is renowned for being both comfortable and effective.

If you have questions about Invisalign®, please contact our office at the number above.

*Malocclusion is the technical term for teeth that don’t fit together correctly.  Malocclusions not only affect the teeth, but also the appearance of the face.  Most malocclusions are inherited; however some are due to acquired habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting.  The spacing left from an adult tooth being extracted or an early loss of a baby tooth can also contribute to a malocclusion.