Would you be surprised to learn that dental health is just as much concerned with the jaws and face as the teeth?
In fact, dentistry has its very own discipline dealing with these aspects, which are more closely aligned to oral health than most people think.
The science is orthodontics – derived from the Greek words ortho, meaning straight and odons, – or tooth.
Readers might rightly ask what on earth straight teeth have to do with the jaws and face.
Well, the job of the orthodontist is to correct malocclusion of the upper and lower jaw. The origins of the word malocclusion – this time from Latin – give us an idea of the problem. It literally means badly-closing and it refers to the way in which the upper jaw connects to the lower.
Good occlusion is critical for bite function and malocclusion can cause the teeth to wear down much quicker than they should. It can also have a detrimental effect on the smile, especially if it causes an underbite or overbite. This is why some dentists will tell you that good dentistry is just as much concerned with the face as a whole as with the mouth.
Malocclusion and the teeth grinding associated with the condition are also one of the leading causes of migraines. Acute cases can also severely affect bite function causing indigestion, bloating and other conditions.
It’s not just dentists who are realising the wider health benefits of straighter teeth. Demand for orthodontics is on the rise, with an estimated million people every year seeking treatment.
Where treatments have typically been aimed at younger people, more adults are now seeking treatment.
How do I know if I need treatment?
Take a look in the mirror. If you have one of the following problems, you could be a candidate for treatment.
- Protruding upper or lower front teeth – the most common dental problems
- Overcrowding – too many teeth in either jaw with no space in between teeth
- Impacted teeth – extra teeth come in front or behind the normal row of teeth.
- Significant gaps between the teeth
- Deep bite – upper teeth covering your lower teeth when you bite
- Reverse bite – when you bite, your upper teeth bite inside your lower teeth
- Open bite – upper and lower front teeth remaining apart when you bite, while back teeth meet. Your tongue can be seen between the upper and lower front teeth
- Asymmetry – the centre lines of your upper and lower front teeth do not match, and it seems that the teeth have drifted or the position of your jaw has shifted
Orthodontic treatment can help to re-align these teeth into their correct functional position
What’s the Treatment?
Your smile is as unique as you are – and so are its imperfections. Treatments vary from patient to patient and could include methods like the Inman Aligner to work on front teeth only, or Invisalign which works across all teeth if necessary.
Patients can opt for fixed or removable systems with treatment times also varying depending on the severity of the problem.
Far less predictable is the benefits patients receive from straighter teeth and a perfectly aligned bite, including less crowding, restored bite function and an enhanced smile.