HEALTHY MOUTH TIPS
What is Orthodontics?
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics can be best described as a field within the dental industry that is focused on correcting your teeth that may be placed improperly. You have likely seen someone with or you yourself have crooked or widely spaced teeth. All of these conditions can lead to problems when it comes time to brush, floss, and care for your teeth. When your teeth are crooked, they do not sit the way they should and this leaves them susceptible to disease and decay. In addition, stress may be placed onto the chewing muscles in your mouth, which can lead to headaches. It is not uncommon for patients to develop TMJ, which can mean they experience neck pain, back pain, and shoulder pain.
Orthodontics is a great way to help deliver a healthy and straight smile to patients and Dr. Kim is an experienced orthodontist who is ready to work with you. Orthodontists receive additional schooling above and beyond a general dentist and they attend a program accredited by the ADA.
Orthodontics: Do I Need Treatment?
Only an orthodontist or your general dentist can determine if you need to receive treatment. When it comes time, you will need to have an evaluation and provide Dr. Kim with your previous dental history, so that he can determine the best treatment for you. Often times, Dr. Kim will take a plaster mold of your teeth and x-rays to identify problem areas or areas of concern.
Below, you will find a handful of conditions that often require orthodontic treatment and if you have one of these conditions, you should speak to Dr. Kim today:
- Open Bite: This is present when there is a space between the biting surfaces of the side and front teeth when the back teeth are placed together and bite pressure is applied.
- Misplaced Midline: This occurs when the center of your upper front teeth does not properly line up with the center of the lower teeth.
- Spacing: Spaces and gapes can often occur and they should be closed to ensure a straight smile and proper gum tissue over the tooth.
- Underbite: This is when the lower teeth stick out much further than the upper teeth and it presents itself as a bulldog appearance.
- Crossbite: This is when the upper teeth do not come down in front of the lower teeth when you bite down.
- Crowding: This occurs when the teeth are too close together and the dental ridge is unable to accommodate for them.
- Overbite: This happens when the upper teeth sit too far in front of the bottom teeth and results in a buck teeth appearance.
How Does Orthodontic Treatment Work?
There are a handful of orthodontic treatments when it comes to both fixed and removable appliances. The type of appliance that you require will depend on the treatment that is needed. Each one of the appliances will provide you with a variety of effectiveness and it is important that you speak to Dr. Kim about the best treatment for you. Below, we will take a look at some of the most common dental appliances that are offered in our Torrance office.
Special Fixed Appliances – These types of appliances are used to stop thumb sucking and tongue thrusting. These types of appliances are often attached to the teeth via a set of bands and these appliances are often last resort as they do make eating and drinking difficult for many.
Braces – This is one of the most common fixed appliances that are offered and every orthodontist can provide it as a treatment option. Braces are made up of wires and brackets and a band is placed around the teeth and used as anchors for the appliances to remain in place. Often times, the braces are bonded onto the front of the teeth and then the wires are placed into each of the brackets and then attached to the individual bands. The wire does need to be adjusted and tightened to ensure tension is placed on the teeth to move them into their proper position. Braces are often adjusted monthly, but may need to be adjusted more or less depending on your needs.
Fixed Space Maintainers – When a patient loses a baby tooth BEFORE it is ready to come out, a fixed space maintainer will be needed to ensure the spot remains open for the permanent tooth to erupt. A band is placed to a nearby tooth and a wire extends to the other side of the space to keep the spot open.
Palatal Expander – This is a device that is worn on the patient’s upper arch area of the jaw. It is made from a flexible plastic and will form to the roof of the mouth for comfort. Pressure is then applied to the screws used to hold it in place, which then forces the joint into the bones and it allows the palate to open.
Removable Retainers – This device is placed on the roof of the mouth and it works to stop the teeth from going back to their traditional position. Most patients need a retainer when they have a thumb sucking condition.
Removable Space Maintainers – Similar to fixed space maintainers, these can go in and out of your mouth. These devices are made from an acrylic and they fit perfectly over the teeth. They work to leave a space open between two teeth where one tooth has been lost.
Aligners – These are a great alternative to traditional braces and they are often recommended for teens and adults. Most of the aligners are clear and they place gentle pressure on your teeth to move them into the correct position. These aligners come out of your mouth so that you can drink, eat, floss, and brush.
If you are interested in orthodontic procedures and treatment options, Dr. Kim wants to hear from you. Call Dr. Steve S. Kim DDS today to schedule an appointment in our Torrance office.