Orthodontics is the dental field that deals with the treatment and prevention of things that pertain to the appearance or function of the mouth and teeth, such as spacing issues, overbite or under-bite, and other related problems.
These issues are typically treated with the use of orthodontic appliances. Braces, retainers, alignment trays and other related tools are all used in this practice. You can also address some sleep related issues such as sleep apnea, snoring, or breathing issues with orthodontic appliances.
The Following Conditions Would Make You or Your Child a Good Candidate for Orthodontic Appliance Treatment :
- Grinding or clenching teeth
- Full mouth reconstruction
- Mouth Breathing
- Sleep disorders, like obstructive sleep apnea or snoring
- Smile makeover that requires stabilization
- Delayed or premature loss of baby (primary) teeth, potentially resulting in spacing issues, crowding, crooked or impacted teeth
- Facial asymmetry or imbalance
- Thumb sucking, tongue pressure, lip wedging or other mouth habits which can lead to tooth protrusion or asymmetrical jaw growth
- Issues with biting or chewing
- Crowded, protruding, misplaced, or blocked-out teeth
- Poor jaw alignment causing teeth to meet improperly or not meet at all
- Frequent biting problems on the inside of the cheek
Types of Orthodontic Appliances:
Braces are the most popular type of orthodontic appliance and one with which you are likely the most familiar. Braces may be worn by children, teens, and adults. They are used to straighten teeth that have grown in a less than desirable pattern or alignment, and so have caused issues in the mouth whether physical or appearance-wise.
The braces themselves are composed of wires and bands that are attached to the teeth to apply pressure over time and gradually bring the teeth into the desired placement.
Brackets are the component of braces that attaches to the teeth, and these can be made from plastic, ceramic, metal, or any combination of these materials. Metal braces are the most noticeable but also the strongest of the bunch. Ceramic braces usually look nicer than the metal ones but must be worn for a longer period of time, so there is a tradeoff.
Lingual braces are worn on the inside edge of the teeth, and so are more inconspicuous. These may also need to be worn for a longer timeframe in order to achieve the desired effect.
Removable braces can be taken out when desired, whereas fixed braces can only be removed with the help of a dentist at a dental appointment.
People usually wear braces for a period of one to three years, and a typical braces treatment costs between $2000-$7000 depending on the type of braces and specific details of the treatment required.
Transparent Alignment Trays
Clear alignment trays such as Invisalign are a popular and more attractive alternative to braces. They are clear and are custom fitted to your mouth. Alignment trays are less invasive than traditional braces and do not have the same issues with trapping food particles or plaque against the teeth. Alignment trays are generally fitted in sets, with one new set for every 3 weeks or so of treatment. Each set of alignment trays moves the teeth a little closer to the desired location, with the teeth ending up in the final location at the end of the treatment period.
Alignment trays are custom fitted using computers and no two sets are identical. When using alignment trays, the trays must be worn for the vast majority of the time and generally only removed to brush and floss teeth.
Total treatment timeframes for alignment trays such as Invisalign or Clear Correct range from 9 to 24 months. Cost estimates for these transparent alignment trays are usually about the same as those for traditional braces, if not slightly higher.
Mouth guards are protective “padding” devices that are inserted into the mouth before and during sporting activities to prevent dental injuries from occurring during the athletic practice. Mouth guards can prevent very painful and expensive injuries that might have otherwise occurred.
Mouth guards can also provide protection for other orthodontic appliances such as braces or clear alignment trays, which could protect both your teeth and your sizable investment in the other orthodontic appliances. In some cases, the mouth guards can also provide protection to your jawbone as well. Mouth guards can be as affordable as a few dollars for a simple over the counter mouth guard, to as much as $500 or more for a custom fitted mouth guard shaped by a dental professional. These custom fitted mouth guards tend to be significantly more effective than their more generic off the shelf counterparts, however, so keep in mind that when it comes to dental protection, you do get what you pay for! Any protection is better than none at all, so be sure to use a mouth guard when participating in contact sports or other potentially dangerous athletic activities.
Sleep Disorder Corrective Devices
Many people suffer from various sleep disorders which can be treated with orthodontic appliances. These appliances can help treat obstructive sleep apnea (snoring), which can prevent sound and continuous sleep. Sleep apnea is a condition in which the breathing is partially blocked during sleep due to an obstruction in the airway. Sleep apnea disorder devices help to clear that obstruction, allowing the person to sleep soundly and more quietly.
Sleep apnea treatment devices are typically made from plastic or acrylic, and they hold back the obstruction during the night to prevent it from coming down and blocking the airway, affecting sleep. They are worn all night long, similar to braces, retainers or alignment trays.
The job of one of these devices is to reposition the lower jaw, cheek, tongue, and soft palette in order to stabilize them and maintain the openness of the airway. This allows the wearer to breathe smoothly and properly during the night.
Sleep disorder treatment devices usually range from $500 to $1500 in total cost.
Children and teens are the most frequent wearers of orthodontic devices, as early treatment is ideal in the case of most dental or orthodontic issues.
Whatever the condition affecting you or your child, rest assured there is most likely an orthodontic appliance solution that is suited to your treatment needs. Contact your orthodontist to find out what treatment options they offer for your specific issues.
Do you have any good experiences with an orthodontic appliance that was able to help you solve a problem you were experiencing? Let us know in the comments!