Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with straightening and correcting the position of the teeth.
It is an extremely complex specialty that studies not only tooth eruption but also the development of the dental structures, tongue muscle, jaw bones and skull base since intrauterine formation.
Broadly speaking, orthodontic pathologies can be:
- dental malpositions: crowding, spacing, oversized teeth, anodontics, etc.
- growth anomalies of the maxillary bones: maxillary/mandibular prognathism/retrognathism
Specialists treat these pathologies by applying orthodontic appliances (braces).
The fixed dental appliance is an orthodontic device made of brackets, rings and springs. It is a
set of elements that are fixed, glued or attached to the teeth (it may contain some other attachments,
depending on the complexity of the treatment). They work by applying
constant pressure on the teeth, in a desired direction, over a period of time. The applied force cannot be too strong as it could damage the integrity and functionality of the teethth and
periodontal ligaments, therefore the duration of the orthodontic treatment can extend over a few years.
A first orthodontic evaluation is recommended for children until the age of 7 (if no other dental problems have previously appeared). During childhood and adolescence, the jaw bones grow and mature, so it is easier to change the position of the teeth at this stage. However, orthodontic therapy is also possible to adult patients, often being part of a multidisciplinary treatment in complex oral rehabilitation along with surgical, periodontal or prosthetic treatments.
Some important features to consider before starting an orthodontic treatment:
– there are several standard investigations required: X-rays, CT (depending on the clinical case)
– dental extractions may be necessary: in some clinical situations for correct occlusal rehabilitation dental extraction of one / more teeth may be necessary
– the application of the dental appliance itself is not painful, but there is discomfort in the first days
after application; it can range from pressure to pain depending on the patient’s tolerance and
of the applied force.
– oral hygiene must be more rigorous: it is necessary to use additional means of oral hygiene such as interdental brushes or mouthwash because access is more difficult with braces.
– at the end of the treatment you will be instructed to wear a restraint – the type will be determined by the orthodontist, who will also tell you how long to wear it.