Reasons for Braces and Orthodontic Treatment

Reasons for Braces and Orthodontic Treatment

Why Braces Are Used and How They Improve Your Oral Health

By Shawn Watson
Updated November 14, 2016

The reasons for braces and orthodontic treatment vary from patient to patient. Approximately 3 million American and Canadian teens have braces, with the number of adults beginning orthodontic treatment rising at a steady rate. Your dentist will typically be the first person to mention orthodontic treatment, and will likely send you or your loved one to see an orthodontist for a consultation.

Who is a Candidate for Braces?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children should be seen for their first orthodontic consultation no later than age 7.

While the age of 7 may seem unusually early to consider braces, this pre-screening will give the orthodontist the opportunity to use preventative measures to possibly correct situations that may lead to braces in the future, and /or advise the parent on future orthodontic treatment planning. Adults seeking orthodontic treatment may consult with their dentist at any time, since it is never too late to consider correcting your teeth.

The initial consultation with the orthodontist is typically a visual evaluation of the patient’s teeth and facial structure, with discussion to follow. If the orthodontist requires more in-depth information, or the patient agrees to begin treatment, diagnostic records are then taken of the patient. These diagnostic tools, consisting of x-rays, models of the patient’s teeth, and photographs of the patient’s face and teeth, are used by the orthodontist to study and formulate a treatment plan to present to the patient.

Although most orthodontists do not require a referral from your general dentist, it may be helpful if you obtain one when it comes time to choosing a dentist that is right for you.

Why Do I Need Braces?

Braces are used to move teeth into the ideal position and align how they bite together, known as occlusion.

Malocclusion is used to describe the misalignment of teeth between the upper and lower dental arches, using the first molars as a reference point. There are three different types of misalignment, defined by the Angles Classification Method. Developed by Dr. Edward Angle, considered by many the founding father of orthodontics, this method of classification is widely used by dentists around the world:

  • Class I – Considered the ideal relationship between the upper and lower teeth. Crowding or spacing may be present with Class I bite.
  • Class II – Commonly known as “over bite.” The patient’s lower first molar is positioned posterior, or more towards the back of the mouth. The upper jaw, or maxilla, appears to protrude forward. Class II bite has two sub classes that also describe the position of the upper front teeth, but in both cases, the molar relationship is the same.
  • Class III – The patient’s lower first molar is positioned anterior, or closer to the front of the mouth. The lower jaw, or mandible, protrudes forward, and is best described as an “under bite.”

While some patients may have the ideal bite, they may suffer from varying degrees of crowding or spacing, another factor associated with a misaligned bite. Crowding is a condition that causes the teeth to overlap, rotate, and in some cases, grow into the incorrect position in the mouth, or in more extreme cases, cause the tooth to become trapped in the bone. Crowding may be caused because the dental arch is too small for the adult teeth, or the adult teeth are larger than normal.

Crowding may also be caused by losing the primary or baby teeth early, or retaining them in the mouth longer than normal. These factors may inhibit the adult tooth, forcing it to erupt or grow into an incorrect position. Crowding makes it difficult to brush and floss the teeth correctly, possibly resulting in tooth decay or gingivitis.
Alternatively, varying degrees of spacing may be present, due to smaller teeth or jaw size. The most obvious example of spacing is the diastima, a space between the upper two front teeth, known as the centrals, made famous by Madonna.

More Than Just Straight Teeth

Misaligned teeth and an incorrect bite may affect more than just the appearance of your smile. The following conditions may potentially be corrected by orthodontics:

  • Speech impediments
  • Jaw or TMJ pain
  • Difficulty chewing and eating
  • Sleep apnea caused by mouth breathing and snoring
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Gum disease and tooth decay

Patients experiencing any of the above symptoms should contact their dentist to determine the cause of their condition. Aesthetics do, however, play an important role when it comes to deciding if braces are right for you. Self confidence may improve for patients that have concerns with the appearance of their teeth or facial shape.

Many treatment options are available for correcting the look of your teeth and smile.

Talk to Your Dentist

Healthy teeth and gums, improved facial structure, and enhanced self esteem are just few of the many benefits of correcting your teeth with braces. To find an orthodontist in your area, visit the American Association of Orthodontics website, or book an appointment with your family dentist.

Source: The American Association of Orthodontists.

14 Ways You Might Be Brushing Your Teeth Wrong

14 Ways You Might Be Brushing Your Teeth Wrong

By Amanda Schupak
December 1, 2015

1. Your toothbrush bristles aren’t soft enough.

When you bought your toothbrush did it say “Soft” or “Extra Soft” on the package? No? Then it’s probably the wrong toothbrush. Hard bristles can weaken tooth enamel. You also want the head of the brush to be small enough to easily reach all your teeth.

2. You’re brushing too hard.

Going at your chompers like you’re sandblasting a floor is just going to do more damage to your tooth enamel and can even hurt your gums and lead to gum recession. If you simply can’t control your strength, an angled handle can help ease the pressure on your teeth.

3. You’re holding your toothbrush too tightly.

If you’re holding your toothbrush with Kung Fu grip, it’ll make you more likely to saw away in a manner that can wear away your enamel. Find a brush with a handle that is easy to hold with a light grip.

4. And at the wrong angle.

The American Dental Association recommends holding the surface of the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the front of your teeth. Then, brush in small strokes (think one-tooth-at-a-time) or in tiny circles. Don’t forget the insides, too, as well as the chewing surfaces.

5. You don’t watch what you’re doing.

Multitasking is a great way to do two things poorly. Rather than checking Instagram or wandering around the house while you brush, look at yourself in the mirror. (Oh, hey there.) Focus to make sure you get all your teeth, all the way up to the gum line—even those guys way in the back.

6. You don’t brush for long enough.

The ADA says you should brush for at least two minutes. Some dentists recommend going up to four minutes. Check the clock—or invest in a powered toothbrush with a timer.

7. You skip brushing before bed.

Of course, after a long day (or a long night) sometimes we all just want to say phooey to our hygiene routines and flop in bed. But just think of it this way: That’s seven or eight (or 11) uninterrupted hours for bacteria to do their dirty work, irritating your gums and causing tooth decay, and for plaque to harden into tartar.

8. You forget to brush your tongue, too.

Your tongue is actually one of the biggest sources of bad breath on account of all the microbes and food debris that get stuck on it. Get that gunk off. According to the ADA, studies have shown that just brushing your tongue can reduce bad breath by as much as 70 percent.

9. You fail at flossing.

To paraphrase the late, hilarious standup Mitch Hedberg, we know it’s as hard to start flossing as it is to stop smoking. But there’s a reason your dentist is always giving you a hard time about it. The food hiding between your teeth that so eludes your toothbrush’s bristles harbors bacteria that cause tooth decay. Oh, and PS, dragon breath, that stuff stinks, too.

10. Your toothbrush is too old.

Bristles become frayed and worn over time, which makes them less effective at cleaning and potentially more damaging to the teeth. Plus, cracked or broken bristles are havens for bacteria. Get a new brush every three or four months.

11. You disinfect your toothbrush constantly.

This can actually just make your toothbrush age faster. The best way to clean your toothbrush is to rinse it thoroughly under the tap and store it upright to air-dry.

12. You keep your toothbrush in a covered holder.

It’s OK for protecting it while traveling, but routinely storing your brush in a closed, moist container is more conducive to microbial growth.

13. You replace your toothbrush every time you get sick.

No need! Whatever germs are on your brush are the same ones your body just built up a bunch of antibodies against. Don’t waste your money.

14. You use your boo’s brush.

Your body is not prepared to fight of someone else’s germies, however, so using their toothbrush increases your risk of infections.