Your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist if you’re looking to improve your smile by straightening crooked teeth, correcting a misaligned bite, of aligning the jaw correctly. Orthodontists are dental specialists with the training and skills to aid with the diagnosis and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

You may need to see an orthodontist for assistance with:

  • Crooked or overcrowded teeth
  • Misaligned bite - overbite, underbite, or crossbite
  • Gaps between our teeth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tooth movement caused by bad habits such as prolonged thumb sucking

How Orthodontic Treatment Works

Your orthodontist can recommend different types of fixed or removable appliances to help move your teeth, retrain muscles, or influence the growth of your jaws. These devices work by exerting gentle pressure on the teeth and jaws to facilitate gradual movement.

The type of appliances and treatment used depends on the complexity of your case. Common options include:

  • Fixed braces - comprise brackets that are attached to the front of the tooth, or bands that are fixed around the teeth, and connected to each other through arch wires that can be tightened to put teeth under tension and cause them to move gradually. Braces are typically adjusted or tightened monthly until the desired results are achieved in 1-3 years.
  • Special fixed appliances - they are attached to the teeth via bands to control tongue thrusting and thumb sucking
  • Fixed space maintainers - these are used to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting and reducing the space, following premature loss of a baby tooth
  • Aligners - these are used as an alternative to braces to move teeth gradually, to correct minor to moderate cases of bad bite

When to see an Orthodontist

In most cases, your general dentist will recommend that you visit an orthodontist if you need specialized care and treatment for crooked teeth or a bad bite. That said, it is recommended that children visit the orthodontist for the first time by the age of 7 years.

If a patient needs orthodontic treatment, early interceptive treatment, braces, headgear, and other orthodontic devices typically yield the best results when interventions are introduced as early as possible.

That said, teens and adults can also seek orthodontic treatment to improve the function of their mouth and enhance their smile. Early treatment helps to improve oral hygiene and reduce the risk of gum disease, cavities, and other oral problems. Your orthodontist and dentist will work together to create the best treatment plan for optimal results.

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