Some people may feel they’ve been blessed with perfect teeth and that a visit to an orthodontist is superfluous. That may be true. On the other hand, many dental problems are quite subtle and it takes an expert to identify them. In other cases, you might have a related condition that you don’t even know orthodontic treatment could resolve.
What Is an Orthodontist?
Orthodontists receive specialized training, at least three years over and above what the average dental practitioner receives. Orthodontists specialize in the alignment of the teeth and jaw. He or she can help resolve overbite, cross bite, and underbite problems, apply and manage braces or help with conditions like sleep apnea. Orthodontists treat both children and adults (straight teeth treatments aren’t just for kids!). Most adults should visit these dental specialists periodically, as well as seeing their usual dental practitioner for regular checkups and preventive care.
Even if your teeth are completely straight, you could have an overbite, underbite or cross bite. In an overbite, the top teeth come down too far in front of the lower teeth. An underbite is a reverse condition and the jaw is too far forward. A cross bite occurs when a tooth is too far toward the tongue or too far toward the cheek compared to its matching tooth in the other part of the jaw. Bite problems can cause uneven wear and make chewing difficult.
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome
Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) is a condition in which the sliding hinge of the jaw (where the jaw attaches to the skull) is out of alignment on one or both sides. This can cause cracking, popping or grinding noises, pain in the jaw or face and headaches. It can also make it difficult to chew. TMJ may be caused by bite problems, so correcting the bite can make the symptoms go away or at least improve.
Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea. This condition occurs because of the muscles and soft tissues in the throat collapse during sleep. People with sleep apnea awaken multiple times a night, often thrashing and gasping for breath. They are chronically sleep-deprived and at risk of medical conditions like heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. In some cases, sleep apnea is due to problems with jaw alignment and orthodontic treatment can help.
Tightly Spaced Teeth
Even when teeth are straight, they can be too close together. This makes it much more difficult to floss thoroughly or truly clean all tooth surfaces. It increases the risk of dental decay because food particles and bacteria collect between the teeth where you can’t reach. It is also more likely that fragments of a food like popcorn will become stuck between the teeth and impossible to remove. This is a condition that might not even require braces – a retainer may be all that’s needed.
Many people might not even think of seeing a dental specialist for a speech impediment. But a lisp, for example, may occur because of the way your teeth are arranged inside the mouth. Orthodontists can’t resolve all speech impediments, but if the condition is related to your teeth, tongue or lips, orthodontic care may help.
Certain childhood habits increase the risk of orthodontic problems. Thumbing sucking that continues past the age of five has a tendency to push the upper teeth forward and may also cause jaw alignment problems. Tongue thrusting pushes against the upper teeth and may eventually result in an overbite. With lip sucking the child repeatedly holds the upper lip beneath the front teeth, again increasing the risk of protruding front teeth and an overbite.
To Improve Your Appearance
While you might not have any dental problems in terms of cavities, you could very well feel that your appearance would be enhanced if your teeth were just a little straighter and more evenly spaced. Perhaps you have a slight overbite and a small chin so that the overbite makes the chin more noticeable. These are conditions for which you might want an orthodontic assessment even if you don’t have any major dental problems. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look more attractive.
What Are the Treatment Options?
Orthodontic treatment today includes the traditional metal brackets and wires, but it also includes the Invisalign system, ceramic and lingual braces (these are placed on the inside surface of the teeth). The Invisalign system is a removable plastic aligner; since it’s clear, the Invisalign aligner is next to invisible. Other options include adjustable brace systems and custom-fitted retainers. Treatment usually lasts one to three years, depending on the problem. A retainer may also be necessary for about a year to assure the teeth remain in a new position.
Schedule an Appointment Today
To learn more about orthodontic treatment, contact McDermott Orthodontics in Minnesota to schedule an appointment. Dr. Michael McDermott offers free consultations at several locations, including:
• Delano – 763-972-4444
• Pequot Lakes – 218-568-5600
• Brainerd – 218-829-1630
• Baxter – 218-829-1630
Our orthodontist has been providing examinations to adults, teenagers, and children for over 15 years, using these devices:
• Damon System – made with self-ligating brackets
• Ceramic Braces – color-matching brackets
• Invisalign – aligners made from durable clear plastic
At our orthodontic office, patients are fitted with aligners after we use the iTero scanner to create molds. Our patients can also request an Acceledent Aura device to use at home to reduce their treatment time. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at McDermott Orthodontics.