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Orthodontic Topics

What age should my child have an orthodontic evaluation?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for children by the age of 7 years. At age 7 the teeth and jaws are developed enough so that the dentist or orthodontist can see if there will be any serious bite problems in the future. Most of the time treatment is not necessary at age 7, but it gives the parents and dentist time to watch the development of the patient and decide on the best mode of treatment. When you have time on your side you can plan ahead and prevent the formation of serious problems.

Why is it important to have orthodontic treatment at a young age?

Research has shown that serious orthodontic problems can be more easily corrected when the patient’s skeleton is still growing and flexible. By correcting the skeletal problems at a younger age we can prepare the mouth for the eventual eruption of the permanent teeth. If the permanent teeth have adequate space to erupt they will come in fairly straight. If the teeth erupt fairly straight their tendency to get crooked again after the braces come off is diminished significantly. After the permanent teeth have erupted, usually from age 12-14, complete braces are placed for final alignment and detailing of the bite. Thus the final stage of treatment is quicker and easier on the patient. This phase of treatment usually lasts from 12 - 18 month and is not started until all of the permanent teeth are erupted.

Doing orthodontic treatments in two steps provides excellent results often allowing the doctor to avoid removal of permanent teeth and jaw surgery. The treatment done when some of the baby teeth are still present is called Phase-1. The last part of treatment after all the permanent teeth have erupted is called Phase-2.

What causes crooked teeth?

Crowded teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, premature loss of baby teeth, a poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils can all contribute to poor tooth positioning. And then there are the hereditary factors. Extra teeth, large teeth, missing teeth, wide spacing, small jaws - all can be causes of crowded teeth.

How do teeth move?

Tooth movement is a natural response to light pressure over a period of time. Pressure is applied by using a variety of orthodontic hardware (appliances), the most common being a brace or bracket attached to the teeth and connected by an arch wire. Periodic changing of these arch wires puts pressure on the teeth. At different stages of treatment your child may wear a headgear, elastics, a positioner or a retainer. Most orthodontic appointments are scheduled 4 to 6 weeks apart to give the teeth time to move.

Will it hurt?

When teeth are first moved, discomfort may result. This usually lasts about 24 to 72 hours. Patients report a lessening of pain as the treatment progresses. Pain medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) usually help relieve the pain.

Orthodontic Terms

Arch Wire - When teeth are first moved, discomfort may result. This usually lasts about 24 to 72 hours. Patients report a lessening of pain as the treatment progresses. Pain medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) usually help relieve the pain.

 

Band & Loop (B&L) - A Band & Loop is routinely used to hold space for a missing primary (baby) posterior (back) tooth until the permanent tooth can grown in.

 

Brackets Brackets are the “Braces” or small attachments that are bonded directly to the tooth surface. The brackets are the part of your braces to which the dentist or assistant attaches the arch wire.

Occasionally, a bracket may come loose and become an irritation to your mouth. You can remove the loose bracket and save it in an envelope to bring to the office. Call the office as soon as possible and make an appointment to re-glue the bracket.

 

Elastics (Rubber Bands) - At some time during treatment, it will be necessary to wear elastics to coordinate the upper and lower teeth and perfect the bite. Once teeth begin to move in response to elastics, they move rapidly and comfortably. If elastics (rubber bands) are worn intermittently, they will continually "shock" the teeth and cause more soreness. When elastics are worn one day and left off the next, treatment slows to a standstill or stops. Sore teeth between appointments usually indicate improper wear of headgear or elastics or inadequate hygiene. Wear your elastics correctly, attaching them as you were told. Wear elastics all the time, unless otherwise directed. Take your elastics off while brushing. Change elastics as directed, usually once or twice a day.

 

Functional Appliances These are used to help modify the growth of the jaws in children. The theory behind their action is that if you hold a jaw in a specific position long enough, that it will grow into that position. What you usually get is a combination of a little jaw growth with a lot of tooth movement. These are not universally accepted, as they do not always work.

The first of these appliances were removable and are still very popular. They are made of plastic and wire. Some of their names are Frankel, Bionator, and Twin-block. A different style is actually fixed to the teeth and uses a spring action to hold the jaw into position. These have names like Herbst and Jasper Jumper.

 

Headgear - Often called a “night brace”. The headgear is used to correct a protrusion of the upper or lower jaw. It works by inhibiting the upper jaw from growing forward, or the downward growth of the upper jaw or even by encouraging teeth to move forward, if that is the case.

 

Herbst - Another appliance designed to encourage the lower jaw to grow forward and “catch up” to upper jaw growth.

 

Lower Lingual Arch (LLA) - A lower lingual arch is a space maintainer for the lower teeth. It maintains the molars where they are, it does not move them. This is fabricated by placing bands on the molars and connecting them to a wire that fits up against the inside of the lower teeth. It keeps the molars from migrating forward and prevents them from blocking off the space of teeth that develop later. This is used when you have the early loss of baby teeth or when you have lower teeth that are slightly crowded in a growing child and you do not want to remove any permanent teeth to correct the crowding.

 

MalocclusionPoor positioning of the teeth.

Types of Malocclusion:

Class I
A Malocclusion where the bite is OK (the top teeth line up with the bottom teeth) but the teeth are crooked, crowded or turned.

Class II
A Malocclusion where the upper teeth stick out past the lower teeth.

Class III
A Malocclusion where the lower teeth stick out past the upper teeth. This is also called an "underbite".

 

O rings - O rings, also called A-lastics, are little rings used to attach the arch wire to the brackets. These rings come in standard gray or clear, but also come in a wide variety of colors to make braces more fun. A-lastics are changed at every appointment to maintain good attachment of the arch wire to the bracket, enabling our patients to enjoy many different color schemes throughout treatment.

 

OcclusionThe alignment and spacing of your upper and lower teeth when you bite down.

Types of Occlusion:

Openbite - Anterior opening between upper and lower teeth.
Overbite - Vertical overlapping of the upper teeth over the lower.
Overjet - Horizontal projection of the upper teeth beyond the lower.
Crossbite - When top teeth bite inside the lower teeth. It can occur with the front teeth or back teeth.

 

Palatal Widening ApplianceAn appliance which is placed in the roof of the mouth to widen the upper dental arch. The maxilla, or upper dental arch, is joined in the center by a joint, which allows it to be painlessly separated and spread. Temporarily you may see a space develop between the upper two front teeth. This will slowly go away in a few days. Once this has occurred, the two halves knit back together and new bone fills in the space.

Care of appliance: Brush as usual. Brush the appliance and roof of the mouth thoroughly. Rinse often to clean any food lodged between the arch and appliance.

 

Retainers - At the completion of the active phase of orthodontic treatment, braces are removed and removable appliances called retainers are placed. To retain means to hold. Teeth must be retained or held in their new positions while the tissues, meaning the bone, elastic membranes around the roots, the gums, tongue and lips have adapted themselves to the new tooth positions. Teeth can move if they are not retained. It is extremely important to wear your retainers as directed!

 

Separator - A plastic or rubber donut piece which the dentist uses to create space between your teeth for bands.

Orthodontic Care

Appliance Care - Clean the retainer by brushing with toothpaste. If you are wearing a lower fixed retainer be extra careful to brush the wire and the inside of the lower teeth. Always bring your retainer to each appointment. Avoid flipping the retainer with your tongue, this can cause damage to your teeth. Place the retainer in the plastic case when it is re-moved from your mouth. Never wrap the retainer in a paper napkin or tissue, someone may throw it away. Don't put it in your pocket or you may break or lose it. Excessive heat will warp and ruin the retainer.

 

Braces Care You will be shown the proper care of your braces when your orthodontic treatment begins. Proper cleansing of your mouth is necessary every time you eat. Teeth with braces are harder to clean, and trap food very easily. If food is left lodged on the brackets and wires, it can cause unsightly etching of the enamel on your teeth. Your most important job is to keep your mouth clean. If food is allowed to collect, the symptoms of gum disease will show in your mouth. The gums will swell and bleed and the pressure from the disease will slow down tooth movement.

BRUSHING: You should brush your teeth 4-5 times per day.

A. Brush back and forth across……between the wires and gums on the upper and lower to loosen any food particles.
B. Next, brush correctly as if you had no brackets or appliances on.
C. Start on the outside of the uppers with the bristles at a 45 degree angle toward the gum and scrub with a circular motion two or three teeth at a time using ten strokes, then move on.
D. Next, do the same on the inner surface of the upper teeth.
E. Then, go to the lower teeth and repeat steps A & B.

Look in a mirror to see if you have missed any places. Your teeth, brackets and wires should be free of any food particles and plaque.

Note: If your gums bleed when brushing, do not avoid brushing, but rather continue stimulating the area with the bristles. Be sure to angle your toothbrush so that the area under your gum line is cleaned. After 3 or 4 days of proper brushing, the bleeding should stop and your gums should be healthy again.

FLOSSING: Use a special floss threader to floss with your braces on. Be sure to floss at least once per day.

FLUORIDE RINSE OR GEL: May be recommended for preventive measures.

 

Elastics Care - If elastics (rubber bands) are worn intermittently, they will continually "shock" the teeth and cause more soreness. Sore teeth between appointments usually indicate improper wear of headgear or elastics or inadequate hygiene. Wear your elastics correctly, attaching them as you were told. Wear elastics all the time, unless otherwise directed. Take your elastics off while brushing. Change elastics as directed, usually once or twice a day.

 

Proper DietAvoid Sticky Foods such as:

Caramels
Skittles
Candy bars with caramel
Starbursts
Fruit Roll-Ups
Toffee
Gum
Gummy Bears
Candy or caramel apples

Avoid Hard or Tough Foods such as:

Pizza Crust
Ice cubes
Nuts
Bagels
Hard Candy
Popcorn Kernels
Corn Chips

Cut the following foods into small pieces and chew with the back teeth:

Apples
Pears
Carrots
Celery
Corn on the Cob
Chicken wings
Pizza
Spare Ribs