According to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in three orthodontic patients is over 18!
We have long associated braces and other orthodontic treatments with teens. But now people from 19 to 90 are benefiting from orthodontic treatments.
There’s a lot more to orthodontics than simply getting a more beautiful smile. Orthodontic treatment could improve your health, your confidence, and even reduce pain.
Let’s explore the question, what is orthodontic treatment? and learn how you could benefit from it.
What Is Orthodontic Treatment?
An orthodontist straightens teeth, right? Well, partly.
Orthodontists do use a range of treatments to help people achieve a more esthetically pleasing and healthy smile. But the orthodontic treatment definition is a little broader than that.
We can define orthodontic treatment as dental procedures that help you to achieve a healthy bite.
When we have a healthy bite, our top and bottom sets of teeth fit together in a comfortable position. A great bite makes it easier to chew our food, which helps our digestion. It also makes it easier to speak and pronounce words clearly.
A healthy bite also leads to healthier teeth. It’s much easier to take care of your teeth when they’re properly aligned and they will also wear more easily.
When our jaw is in correct alignment, it also reduces the pressure on the muscles surrounding our jaw. This can help to reduce or relieve TMD – a painful condition caused by pressure on the temporomandibular joint.
Orthodontic Treatment Phases
The orthodontic treatment meaning is different at different times in life. They broadly fall into three main categories.
Phase 1 happens during childhood. Phase 2 generally happens during the teen years.
Finally, adult orthodontic treatments are suitable for those who missed out when they were younger, or who have developed orthodontic issues in the intervening years.
It is recommended that parents take their children to see an orthodontist by the age of 7. This might sound young but it’s important at this stage for an orthodontist to review how your child’s teeth are developing.
The orthodontist may notice that your child is developing an orthodontic issue, such as a crossbite or overbite. It may be clear that their palate is narrow and as their adult teeth emerge there will be overcrowding.
There are many advantages to treatment while a child is young. Firstly, their bones are still developing. The palate will not fully fuse until puberty, making it easier to expand it at this stage.
Secondly, children are often more compliant. During the self-conscious teen years, your child may find it hard to stick to the program.
Finally, phase 1 orthodontics can mean shorter treatment times during phase 2. There will be more room for their adult teeth to emerge in the correct positions.
Some phase 1 orthodontic treatments include:
- Palatal expanders
- Clear aligners
Phase 1 orthodontics can also help to break habits such as thumb sucking and the dental issues that can come from them.
Phase two orthodontic treatments can start when most or all of your child’s adult teeth have come through.
The goal is to correct any bite misalignment. It will also straighten crooked teeth and help your child achieve an esthetically pleasing smile. For most children, phase 2 treatment will be all they need.
Braces and clear aligners such as Invisalign are ideal treatments in phase 2. Both are highly successful at gradually moving teeth into their new positions. Invisalign is great because it is just as effective as braces but is much less conspicuous.
If you’re looking for an effective and more affordable option, metal braces are your best choice.
Much like phase 2 orthodontics in teens, adult orthodontics can address a wide range of bite and teeth alignment issues. This includes complex cases where multiple issues are at play.
If you’ve lived for years with issues such as overbite, underbite, or crooked teeth, you may wonder if you’ve left it too late to get them corrected. The good news is that this is rarely the case.
Even adults over 50 can have their orthodontic issues successfully treated. But first, your orthodontist will check:
- Your general health
- Medications you take
- Your oral health
If you have underlying oral health issues, such as gum disease, you will probably need treatment for them before you can get braces or aligners.
Once your teeth are in generally good health for your age, you’ll be ready to start your treatment. Adult orthodontic treatments can last for many months to over a year. It depends on how serious your issues are.
Other Orthodontic Treatments
We’ve already mentioned braces, Invisalign, and palatal expanders. But there are other orthodontic treatment options to help you gain and retain a beautiful smile.
Retainers help to keep your teeth in their new positions. There are fixed and removable options available. Indirect bonding allows your orthodontist to fix braces more quickly than using traditional methods.
In cases of serious misalignment or jaw problems, orthodontic surgery may be needed.
What Are the Benefits of Orthodontic Treatments?
First, orthodontic treatment can boost your self-confidence. None of us want to feel embarrassed when we smile. A recent study found that after receiving orthodontic treatment adults experienced a significant increase in self-esteem and quality of life.
This is also true of younger people who have teeth straightening procedures.
There are also health benefits that come from having straighter teeth. It is easier to brush and floss straight teeth. Also, crooked teeth usually experience uneven enamel wear and are more prone to caries.
If you have prominent teeth, they are also more likely to get damaged if you fall or while playing sports. Bringing them into correct alignment protects them from harm.
Choose Bozeman Smiles for Orthodontic Treatment
Now we’ve answered, what is orthodontic treatment? you’re ready to take the next step.
At Bozeman Smiles, your journey starts with a consultation with Dr. Fred Schwendeman, D.M.D. He will recommend the most suitable orthodontic treatments to help you to achieve your smile goals.
Contact us today to schedule your first appointment.