Orthodontics* is a specialty field of dentistry that studies and treats improper bites. The need for orthodontic treatment can stem from various tooth irregularities such as crowding and spacing issues, and disproportionate upper to lower jaw alignment. Not only do these conditions affect the overall appearance of a smile, but they affect the functionality. And depending on the severity of the improper bite, the lack of functionality can lead to other problems such as facial deformities, jaw pain, chipped or cracked teeth and loss of teeth.
In order to diagnose if a patient needs orthodontic treatment, a series of records are collected including dental impressions and a panoramic X-ray. Sometimes a digital CT scan of the head is helpful in providing a more detailed view of how the jaws are positioned.
When you think about orthodontics, traditional metal “braces” may come to mind. Brackets are cemented to the teeth that need to be moved and a wire is held against those brackets with small elastic bands. This conventional treatment is still commonly used to gradually manipulate misaligned teeth into their desired location. Today there are alternative methods for straightening teeth such as Invisalign® but they can tend to be more expensive and are limited in their ability to treat severe orthodontic cases.
Sometimes additional oral appliances, such as a palate expander, are worn in conjunction with bracketed wires to achieve a specific movement and correct the overall shape of the jaw. In severe cases, jaw surgery may be necessary as part of a comprehensive orthodontic treatment plan. The length of treatment depends on the methods used but most patients will need to be under orthodontic care for at least six months if not two or three years. And while it’s still common to have orthodontic treatment as an adolescent, there are certainly benefits to earlier orthodontic intervention as well as choosing to straighten your teeth as an adult.
Dr. Mailloux is equipped to diagnose and treat most standard orthodontic* conditions but also chooses to partner with local orthodontic specialists on more severe cases. If you have questions about orthodontic treatment or would like to be evaluated, please contact our office today at (616) 392-3717.
*Dr. Mailloux is licensed as a general dentist; not licensed as a specialist.