Teeth that do not align properly can lead to a variety of problems, including tooth decay and gum disease. Your teeth of the upper and lower jaw should fit precisely together. When they don’t, it can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Orthodontics is an area of dentistry that diagnoses and corrects teeth and jaw alignment problems using devices such as braces and plates.
Signs you may need an orthodontic treatment
Crooked, crowded and overlapping teeth can cause a range of problems, including:
- Gum disease and tooth decay– teeth that are very close together can be harder to clean properly. A buildup of plaque can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
- Injury to the gum – if a tooth doesn’t meet align with the jaw properly, it may dig into the gum and cause damage.
- Teeth wear– if teeth don’t sit properly the action of eating can wear them unevenly.
Issues with teeth and jaw alignment
Problems with teeth and jaw alignment are diagnosed by:
- X-rays of the mouth
- Impressions of the upper and lower jaws
Causes of orthodontic problems
Some common orthodontic problems include:
- Overbite – when the top teeth bite over the bottom teeth more than usual. With teeth closed, you would usually expect to see about half of the lower teeth. If you see less than half, this could be an excessive overbite
- Underbite – when the bottom jaw sits further forward than normal. When teeth are closed, the lower front teeth sit in front of the upper front teeth
- Protruded teeth – when the upper jaw sits further forward than the lower jaw. With the teeth together, you would expect the upper teeth to sit on the inside of the lower lip. If they sit over the lower lip, this might be a sign of protruded teeth. A person with protruded teeth is more at risk of tooth damage or loss from accidents and may have speech or eating problems. Many people also choose to correct protruded teeth for cosmetic reasons
- Crowded teeth – when there is not enough space for teeth to sit side by side and they overlap. Can be caused by large teeth, a small jaw, or both.
Orthodontic treatments available
A range of orthodontic devices may be used to move teeth, or to keep them in place. These include:
- Braces – tiny brackets that are attached to the front or back of each tooth, and a wire is tied to them. The pressure of the wire slowly moves the teeth.
- Invisalign – sometimes called clear aligner or invisible braces, Invisalign are clear pieces of custom-moulded plastic that sit over the teeth and move them slowly. Clear aligners are intended to be worn 20–22 hours a day and you are able to take them out to eat and clean them.
- Elastics – these are small rubber bands that are stretched between upper and lower braces for extra force to move the teeth.
- Plate – a plastic device that sits in the mouth and uses wires and springs to push teeth into a particular position, or to hold them in place. Unlike braces, a plate can be taken out of the mouth.
Age for orthodontic treatment
Usually, teeth problems that may benefit from orthodontic treatment can be detected by between seven and nine years of age. Most orthodontic treatment is done after all the permanent teeth have come through, usually between 11 to 13 years. Some treatment can be started earlier, at about age eight or nine. Adults can be treated too.
Board Certified Orthodontist offers orthodontic treatments in Irvine
If you are worried that you or your child’s teeth are misaligned, visit our Irvine dental office and speak to Board Certified Orthodontist Gary Sanner D.D.S. or Invisalign Certified dentist Shellaine Del Campo D.D.S. Appointments are available Tuesday thru Saturday.