One specialty field of dentistry is orthodontics, whose purpose is to correct teeth that are misaligned or crooked so that your smile is improved. There are a variety to methods and tools that may be employed in the orthodontic process, with the most common being braces. It depends on your specific oral issues, and sometimes teeth must be extracted as part of the treatment plan. Results are usually achieved in two years or less for the average orthodontic patient.
There are many reasons that people turn to orthodontics for help. Imperfect smiles may be a result of genetics, trauma, chronic thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, or other factors. No matter the cause, people whose teeth and mouth have failed to develop ideally are often candidates for orthodontic treatment. This is especially true since an embarrassing smile can lower self-esteem and cause patients to go through life hiding their smiles.
Some of the most common reasons that orthodontists recommend braces or other treatments include:
- Crowding – permanent teeth may grow abnormally and end up overcrowding other teeth in the mouth
- Protruding teeth – teeth that stick out past the others, often referred to as buck teeth, occur especially in the upper teeth
- Overbite or underbite – these bite issues are when either the lower teeth are excessively covered by the upper ones, or vice versa
- Open bite – often related to prolonged thumb sucking, the lower and upper teeth may not meet together properly
- Asymmetrical teeth – the upper and lower teeth are not aligned correctly, giving a crooked appearance to the smile
- Impacted teeth – adult teeth do not erupt properly and grow in the wrong position under the gums
If you or a loved one have any of these issues or others related to your smile, schedule a consultation with an orthodontist for an evaluation. Most orthodontics recommend seeing patients as early as age 7, because early intervention can sometimes help avoid more extensive or longer treatment later. The teen years are common ages for treatment, but adult orthodontics is very popular as well.