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Orthodontics

Duluth Orthodontics

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities (malocclusions*).  Orthodontic treatment is provided by an oral health care provider known as an Orthodontist, who has typically completed two to three years of additional training beyond dental school. 

Recent years have brought about many changes within the dental industry, specifically with regards to orthodontic treatment and care.  Now more than ever patients are experiencing fewer incidences of cavities and missing teeth due to the heightened awareness of fluoride use and preventative dentistry.   This increasing awareness on the health and look of a patient’s smile has fueled the desire for many to seek out orthodontia not only as a medical necessity, but for cosmetic reasons as well.   

Whether it’s traditional braces or custom made removable appliances, orthodontics can help you have the healthy, straight, beautiful smile you’ve been waiting for!

Give us a call today and schedule your orthodontic consultation!

What problems can be treated with orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a versatile branch of dentistry that can be used alone, or in combination with maxillofacial or cosmetic dentistry.

Here are some of the common conditions treated with orthodontics:

  • Anteroposterior deviations – The discrepancy between a pair of closed jaws is known as an anteroposterior discrepancy or deviation.  An example of such a discrepancy would be an overbite (where the upper teeth are further forward than the lower teeth), or an underbite (where the lower teeth are further forward then the upper teeth).

  • Overcrowding – Overcrowding is a common orthodontic problem.  It occurs when there is an insufficient space for the normal growth and development of adult teeth.

  • Aesthetic problems – A beautiful straight smile may be marred by a single misaligned tooth. This tooth can be realigned with ease and accuracy by the orthodontist.  Alternatively, orthodontists can also work to reshape and restructure the lips, jaw or the face.

Orthodontic Solutions

Orthodontics is a technologically advanced field which offers many sophisticated solutions to malocclusions and other cosmetic problems.  The orthodontist will generally perform a visual examination, panoramic x-rays and study models (bite impressions) in order to assess the exact nature of the discrepancy.

When a diagnosis has been made, there are a variety of orthodontic treatment options available.

Here is an overview of some of the most common treatments:

  • Fixed orthodontic braces – A metal or ceramic dental base is affixed to each tooth, and a dental wire is inserted through each base.  The orthodontist is able to gradually train the teeth into proper alignment by regularly adjusting the wire.  When the desired results are achieved, the fixed dental braces are completely removed.

  • Removable appliances – There are a wide range of removable appliances commonly used in orthodontics, including headgear that correct overbites, Hawley retainers that improve the position of the teeth even as the jawbone reforms, and facemasks which are used to correct an underbite.

  • Invisalign® – This is a newer, removable type of dental aligner that is completely transparent.  Invisalign® does not interfere with eating because of its removable nature, and mechanically works in the same way as the traditional metal dental braces.  Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

Reasons for orthodontic treatment (braces) adults & children:

  • Breathing or swallowing problems – Mouth breathing can lead to snoring and sleep apnea.
  • Crossbite – One or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth (towards the tongue).
  • Crowding – Involving extra teeth or malpositioned teeth.
  • Deep Overbite – The lower front teeth bite into the upper tissue of the upper teeth.
  • Disfiguring of the face & mouth – Affects the development of the jaw and position of the teeth.
  • Jaw & jaw joint pain
  • Missing or extra teeth – Due to tooth decay, injuries, or inherited problems.
  • Overjet (protruding upper teeth) – Upper teeth that protrude beyond normal and are usually associated with a short lower jaw.
  • Self-image – An attractive smile can boost a person’s self-image and confidence.
  • Spacing between teeth – Teeth are missing or may be too small or too large.
  • Speech, chewing or biting problems
  • Underbite (lower jaw protrusion) – Lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.

Specific to children:

  • Finger or thumb sucking – These habits can cause protrusion of the upper incisor teeth, and mouth breathing.
  • Teeth erupting out of position – Can be guided to proper alignment.

 

What does orthodontic treatment involve?

Orthodontic treatment involves three phases:

1.  Planning Phase – Your first couple of visits may include the following:

  • A medical and dental history evaluation.
  • Castings or “molds” of your teeth.
  • Computer generated photograph of the head and neck that will aid in planning.
  • Photographs of your face and mouth.
  • X-rays of the teeth and jaws.

After careful planning, your orthodontist will design and apply braces or fabricate custom-made appliances for you.

2.  Active Phase – Active treatment involves visiting your orthodontist on a regular basis for adjustments and following specific treatment requirements to ensure successful treatment.

3.  Retention Phase – When treatment is completed, the braces and/or appliances are removed and a new appliance is made.  Usually these retainers are removable and will maintain the changes made to your teeth if worn continuously until the teeth and bone are stabilized in their new positions.

Treatment and retention times vary depending on each individual case.  Your orthodontist will ensure you have a successful treatment for a beautiful smile that can last a lifetime. 

 

If you have any questions about orthodontic treatments, please contact our office.

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