Orthodontics? What is that?

The term orthodontics comes from the Greek words ‘orthos’ meaning straight or correct and ‘dontia’ which means relating to teeth.

Dentistry has many branches and specialties – Orthodontics and Dento-facial Orthopaedics are specialties of dentistry whose main purpose is to treat abnormalities of the bite and jaws in children and adults. Improvements in the appearance of the teeth, smile and face are part of the cosmetic benefits derived from orthodontic treatment.

An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists first qualify as dentists after completing a five year undergraduate program at an accredited dental school. After this they are required to undertake additional post-graduate training for 3-5 years in orthodontics. This advanced training includes diverse subjects such as genetics, embryology, human growth/facial anatomy, child development/psychology and the principles of biomechanical engineering. These highly trained professionals are then registered as specialists in orthodontics on a list held at the General Dental Council.

“Malocclusion” is a technical term for crooked, crowded, spaced or misaligned teeth which do not fit properly. Literally, the word means “bad bite.”

  • Malocclusions can be inherited and can manifest as:

    • Crowded or spaced teeth
    • Extra or missing teeth
    • Cleft lip/palate
    • A myriad of jaw or facial abnormalities
  • Malocclusions can also be acquired or caused by known factors such as:

    • Thumb sucking
    • Tongue thrusting
    • Dental disease
    • Premature loss of primary teeth
    • Accidents and injuries
    • Some medical problems

A malocclusion can exist without immediate or painful symptoms and a lot of people tend to adapt to the improper relationship between the jaws and the teeth to such an extent that it might be considered to be normal. The unfortunate truth is that these orthodontic problems can become worse, if left undetected and untreated. Braces and other orthodontic procedures can be used to correct malocclusions, subsequently producing a harmonious relationship between the teeth and the jaws leaving us to enjoy a healthy and attractive smile.

Children and adults should visit the orthodontist for a specialised analysis of the teeth, bite and jaws because orthodontists can help prevent, diagnose and treat these irregularities.

Invisalign

Invisalign© is a removable brace system that uses a series of custom-moulded aligners to move your teeth.

Incognito™ lingual braces (back of the teeth)

The word “lingual” originates from a Latin word meaning “tongue”. Lingual appliances are used to correct misaligned teeth and bite problems, using a fixed brace that has been bonded to the tongue side of the teeth.

Ceramic ‘tooth coloured’ braces

Attractive, translucent or tooth coloured, aesthetic fixed brackets appeal to patients in view of their less obtrusive appearance.

Retainers

These can be removable or fixed, and their main purpose is to hold the teeth in place to prevent any movement.

Removable appliances

These can be used to push individual teeth into correct positions or to widen/expand the jaws.

″Twin Block″ & Functional appliances

These are special removable braces which can help control and manipulate the growth of the jaws. Certain types of functional braces can be fixed into the mouth.

″Train Tracks″ or fixed braces

When glued to the teeth each bracket can correct the positions of individual or groups of teeth. Special fixed appliances, called rapid palatal expanders, can be used to expand or widen the roof of the mouth to create space for crowded teeth or to improve the bite.

Headgear

These are used to move the upper teeth backwards and can sometimes be useful to slow down the growth of the upper jaw. A variation, called a facemask can be used to pull the upper jaw and teeth forward.