Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws and misaligned bite patterns. It can also focus on modifying facial growth; this is known as dentofacial orthopaedics. Orthodontic treatment requires wearing fixed or removable appliances (braces) and sometimes requires the removal of teeth and occasionally jaw surgery.
Straightening your teeth and moving them to a more even position can help with your self-confidence, especially if crooked teeth are noticeable when you smile. Orthodontics improves the overall appearance of your smile.
Straight teeth are easier to keep clean. Overlapping teeth create areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush, making plaque deposits difficult to clean away. Straightening teeth helps you to keep your teeth properly clean, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Having a bite that aligns properly will ease any pressure on your jawbone if your jaw is out of position as a result of your bite. Addressing an overbite or underbite will prevent jaw issues, such as a popping jaw or pain.
Orthodontic treatment relies on appliances to gradually move teeth towards a better position. Traditional braces use wires to encourage teeth with gentle forces to a new position, moving the teeth by the crown first and the roots then follow. As the teeth need to move through the bone, it takes a long time for them to cover the distance, which is why some cases can take over a year.
Orthodontic treatment usually takes between 6 months and 3 years to complete. This depends on your orthodontic problem – very difficult problems, including severely impacted teeth, can take longer to correct. If you look after your brace well, avoid any breakages and follow any instructions, like wearing elastic bands, then this will keep help to keep your overall treatment time as short as possible.