Orthodontic treatment is a process used to correct dental and facial irregularities. People often refer to this treatment as “braces” because it primarily involves the use of these appliances. However, orthodontic treatment actually consists of a variety of techniques and procedures used to correct and straighten a wide range of dental and facial problems.
Common orthodontic problems include crooked or crowded teeth, an overbite or underbite, protruding teeth, and spacing or alignment issues. Resolving these issues can help correct other problems, such as poor facial profile and jaw function.
If you are considering or starting orthodontic treatment, you may be curious about the process. The first part of the process is a thorough orthodontic examination. This examination will be administered by an orthodontist, a dentist specializing in the treatment of malocclusion (the misalignment of teeth or bite). The purpose of this examination is to assess your oral and facial anatomy and to determine the best course of orthodontic treatment.
Comprehensive Orthodontic Examination
During the comprehensive orthodontic examination, your orthodontist will take digital or traditional impressions and x-rays of your mouth. They will look at these images to help plan your treatment. The orthodontist may also look at your facial profile and take photographs to better understand the relationship between your upper and lower jaws.
During the exam, your dentist will talk with you about your treatment options, and what you can expect from them. If you decide to move forward with orthodontic treatment, you will be asked to complete a few forms to start your journey towards a healthier, more beautiful smile.
Starting Orthodontic Treatment
Before starting treatment, your orthodontist will talk with you about the different types of appliances available, as well as the treatment plan that will be developed for your specific needs. Braces are the most common appliance used for orthodontic treatment, but there are also other appliances and devices that can be used to straighten teeth and correct bite and facial structure problems.
The Braces Process
The braces process starts with your orthodontist attaching bands to your teeth to hold the arch wires that connect the bands in the desired positions. Brackets are then applied to the teeth, and the arch wires are tightened to guide your teeth into the correct angles and positions. Your orthodontist will adjust the wires and brackets regularly, usually every 6-8 weeks, to help achieve your desired results.
The number of appointments required and the length of the treatment process will depend on the problem that is being corrected and the type of orthodontic treatment being used. In general, most braces treatments take anywhere from 18-30 months to complete.
The Retention Phase
After you remove the braces, you will enter the retention phase of the orthodontic treatment process. During this time, your orthodontist may give you a retainer to wear at night to help your teeth “retain” their new positions. The purpose of this retainer is to prevent your teeth from shifting back to their previous positions. The retention phase generally lasts for a few years.
Orthodontic treatment is a great way to improve both your appearance and your oral health. If you are considering orthodontic treatment, you should talk with your orthodontist to better understand the process and what you can expect. With the right treatment plan and care, you will be on your way to a straighter and healthier smile.