At Moonz dental clinics we specialise in orthodontic treatments for young children and teens. However, we also administer orthodontic treatments for adults.
Although many people believe this type of treatment is only used to improve appearance, the truth is that braces are also used to correct a great number of functional and health problems.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry aimed at finding a morphological, functional and aesthetic balance between the jaw bones (upper and lower jaw) and the teeth. Therefore, its purpose is to prevent, diagnose and treat any irregularities affecting the jaw and teeth.
To achieve this goal, different orthodontic treatments are applied. One or another treatment is selected depending on the patient’s age, the type of malocclusion or degree of severity.
When is orthodontic treatment required?
Orthodontic treatments are prescribed in children, teens and adults with any type of malocclusion affecting their jaw bones or teeth.
The most common conditions requiring orthodontic treatments are:
- Misalignment between the upper jaw and the lower jaw: this occurs when one of these presents an irregularity in its size or position.
- Crowding: the teeth are bunched together instead of aligned with each other.
- Diastema: the teeth are separated, especially the central incisors (commonly known as the “front teeth”).
- Overjet: distance between the upper and lower teeth.
- Open bite: the upper and lower teeth do not contact each other.
- Overbite: the upper teeth excessively overlap he bottom teeth.
- Crossbite: the upper teeth are retracted with respect to the bottom teeth.
Types of orthodontic treatments
Given that there are different problems that can be corrected with an orthodontic treatment, we recommend informing yourself to determine what treatment is best for your child. Also, depending on the age and the malocclusion, one or another type of orthodontic treatment will be applied.
Interceptive and orthopaedic treatments
In the case of children, an interceptive or orthopaedic treatment will be administered. An interceptive treatment is a preventive and habit correcting solution, while an orthopaedic treatment is designed to correct bone growth irregularities and are administered exclusively between the ages of 6 and 9.
These treatments are designed to provide an easier way to correct problems, as the jaw bones are still growing. Orthopaedic treatments act on the bones and their purpose is to guide and correct their growth. This way we can prevent having to deal with more serious problems in the future that cannot be easily corrected once the bones have fully developed.
The most common orthopaedic treatments are:
- Palate expander
- Face mask (to move the jaw forward)
- Headgear (control jaw growth)
- Functional appliance (move jaw forward)
If the orthopaedics is the discipline for correcting jaw bone irregularities, corrective orthodontics does the same thing but for the teeth.
In fact, both these treatments are normally combined since the fact that the bones are aligned does not mean the teeth are properly aligned. This is known as two-phase-orthodontics (interceptive and corrective).
In the case of teens and adults, there are several types of orthodontic treatments to correct irregularities of the teeth.
These are the most commonly used and the cheapest but less appealing option. Metallic orthodontics are made of steel and therefore are highly resistant to humidity (inside the mouth) and do not corrode.
Aesthetic braces work the same as the metal ones but are made of a transparent material, making them much less noticeable. This also makes them much pricier.
Lingual braces are the least noticeable option as the braces are fitted on the back side of the teeth. This way, they are hidden from view. This feature makes them much pricier than metal braces or even aesthetic braces.
Invisible orthodontics are based on the use of aligners made of a transparent, flexible and resistant material. They practically go unnoticed and have the advantage of being removable. In fact, they must be removed to brush your teeth and eat.
Advantages of orthodontics
A treatment with braces may be very beneficial for several reasons:
- Less wear of the teeth: thanks to a better alignment.
- Helps maintain a good dental hygiene: once the teeth are aligned, it is much easier to reach all areas when brushing.
- Prevents the appearance of dental problems such as cavities, gingivitis and periodontitis. Properly aligned teeth are easier to brush.
- Prevents muscle aches: often times, a misaligned bite can also affect the head, neck and ears.
- Improves digestion: thanks to better chewing.
- Improves speech and pronunciation.
- More appealing smile.
Frequently asked questions
A first visit to the orthodontist should be made at age 6, which is the time when permanent teeth begin to emerge.
Even though an orthodontic treatment can be administered at any age, an early diagnosis can reduce the length of the treatment. Also, more serious problems may be prevented at an older age, thanks to having corrected defects well in advance.
Depending on several factors such as the age, the problem to be corrected and even the predisposition of the patient, one or another type of orthodontic treatment will be provided. This also means the length of the treatment will vary depending on the type of treatment that is used.
However, the average duration of an orthodontic treatment is between 12 and 24 months. Once the treatment is completed, the results must last forever, as long as the patient wears a retainer.
One of the primary concerns before beginning an orthodontic treatment is whether or not it is painful. Fitting braces is not painful for the patient but he or she may feel discomfort the first few days. For example, they may feel pressure when chewing or mouth sores may be caused by the device rubbing against tissue.
To prevent feeling discomfort the first few days, we recommend drinking cold beverages and eating cold and soft food. You can also take a pain reliever, when prescribed by the dentist. If mouth sores occur, applying dental wax on the device will help as it will act as a barrier.
In general, both treatments are very effective and enable to correct the same dental malocclusions. Therefore, selecting one or the other depends mainly on the aesthetic preferences of the patient and on the discipline followed when using aligners.
Content supervised by our Moonz team
Dra. Carolina Galán
Doctor Carolina Galán has a Degree in Dentistry from Universidad Complutense de Madrid and is specialised in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics by Universidad Católica de Murcia. She is certified in the main clear orthodontic systems such as Invisalign and Spark, and is a member of the Spanish Orthodontic Society (SEDO).