What Is Orthodontics?
Maintaining your oral health may be more important than you think. While ensuring your teeth are sparkling and clean is a crucial element of taking care of your teeth, its health extends past the simple aesthetics of your mouth. Rather, oral health includes the alignment, placement, and condition of your teeth. Not only can caring for your mouth allow for daily actions, such as chewing and speaking, to be easier on your body, but it can also prevent other areas of your body from being negatively impacted. Your teeth and mouth are integral parts of your body, so any pain or discomfort that stems from that location can actually affect surrounding areas, such as your ears or head.
That said, not everyone is born with perfect teeth. Fortunately, if you find yourself in that category, you are not alone! The American Association of Orthodontics estimates that roughly 50% of the world’s population has misalignments severe enough to benefit from orthodontic treatment. In Canada and the United States, over four million people are in the care of an orthodontic specialist, allowing them to work towards a better smile and a healthier mouth. But what exactly is orthodontics, and how can you benefit from it? Let’s take a look!
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialized branch in the field of dentistry. It focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. While providing cosmetic corrections and improving the appearance of your teeth is one important aspect of orthodontics, it also ensures that you have a healthy, functional bite and actively works to prevent any diseases of the teeth.
While the world of orthodontics has historically been targeted towards children as we work to set them up for success in later life, it certainly doesn’t limit services to adults. In fact, roughly one in four people receiving orthodontic care are over the age of 21.
You are likely familiar with the most popular orthodontic treatment plan: braces. This tool is used to straighten your teeth and help correct more manageable overbites and underbites. However, other orthodontic tools, such as Invisalign, retainers, palatal expanders, and headgear, can also be used to obtain such results.
If your oral concerns are severe enough to warrant it, surgery, such as jaw surgery, may be an element of your orthodontic journey. Ultimately, your orthodontist will advise you on the best route to take.
What are the benefits of orthodontics?
From a visual standpoint, orthodontics offers you that beautiful, picture-perfect smile that everyone dreams of. From a more practical perspective, however, orthodontics can offer even more. Misaligned teeth or improper jaw placement can make it more difficult to clean your teeth, thus increasing your risk for cavities, gingivitis, gum disease, and tooth infections. It can also make chewing or speaking more painful, as your mouth or jaw attempts to adjust to the motion.
Meanwhile, in terms of your self-esteem, orthodontics can allow you to feel more confident in your appearance and your smile, enabling you to approach new social situations with greater ease.
What can orthodontics treat?
Typically, children and adults alike turn to orthodontics to treat the following:
- Gaps between your teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Crowded teeth
- A misaligned jaw
- Improper bites (how your upper and lower teeth fit together)
- Difficulty with oral function, such as while eating or speaking
Orthodontics looks to correct the placement of your teeth, rather than specific diseases or decay. Therefore, if the alignment of your teeth or jaw is of concern to you, consider consulting with an orthodontic specialist.
When should you turn to an orthodontic specialist?
As mentioned above, it is never too late to receive orthodontic care. However, many orthodontic associations will recommend that a child speaks with a specialist by the age of seven, allowing the child, the parents, and the professionals to determine their oral journey and whether treatments will be needed in the future.
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