Orthodontics deals in correcting jaws and teeth as far as their positioning is concerned. This means they have very specific treatments they use. Each treatment may have various options to choose from however, they each have a very specific task they’re trying to accomplish. The most common treatment an orthodontist is known is braces however, there are other treatments they offer as well.
Most of us are familiar with braces and what their aim is as far as our teeth are concerned. When teeth are crooked, they need a gradual adjustment to where they will permanently be straightened. This is what braces are used for. There are various types of braces such as traditional braces which are metal brackets attached to the front of the teeth and connected with wires. There are also lingual braces which are just like traditional braces, except they attach to the back of the teeth instead of the front. There is a removable and clear brace option called Invisalign. These are not attached to the teeth but, are clear trays that snap onto the teeth and are removable. Traditional and lingual braces are called “fixed appliances.” Invisalign are called “removable appliances.” Once braces are removed, it’s common for patients to be given removable retainers which can be worn at night to keep teeth from shifting.
Fixed Space Maintainers and Special Fixed Appliances
These are more for younger children as it deals more with baby teeth. A space maintainer is used when a child loses a baby tooth before they’re supposed to. The hole needs to stay open with plenty of room for the adult tooth to erupt properly. So, a band is attached to one tooth while a wire extends to the tooth on the other side of the hole. This keeps the teeth separated properly for the adult tooth to come through in a normal manner.
Specially fixed appliances are used to correct things such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. They can be very uncomfortable during a normal task such as eating and are only used when they have to be. The appliances are attached to the teeth by bands.
This appliance is not commonly seen as it can be quite a hindrance. In the front, there is a metal piece called a “face bow.” This attaches to a strap that goes around the back of the head. This essentially straightens the jaw. The top jaw growth is slowed, holding the teeth in place while the lower jaw essentially catches up and aligns properly.
This appliance is used to widen the upper jaw, in so many words. This is also referred to as a palatable expander. It’s a plastic piece that sits in the roof of the mouth and provides pressure to gradually adjust the upper jaw as needed.
Jaw Repositioning Appliances
Underbites and overbites are common, and a jaw repositioning appliance is used, in general, to fix the position of your bite. It’s more of a training device which forces your jaw to close in the correct position, essentially fixing the alignment issue.
Often times, lips or cheeks can place pressure on the teeth, causing them to become crooked. Bumpers are used to keep the lips and cheeks away from the teeth if this becomes an issue. Bumpers relieve the pressure, essentially removing the issue.
Of course, there are other treatments an orthodontist can offer. It all depends on each patient and their needs on what treatment is used. Each of these treatments listed has adjustments that are made to them to match each patient and their needs.