Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontic treatments focus on the repositioning of the teeth into proper alignment.
Orthodontic treatment can also include the control and modification of facial growth. In the latter case it is better defined as dentofacial orthopedics. In some cases where growth is complete, and skeletal discrepancies between the facial bones exists, it is necessary to combine orthodontic treatment with orthognathic surgery in order to achieve the desired results.
Orthodontic treatment is sometimes carried out for purely esthetic reasons, improving the general appearance of the patient’s teeth and face. Treatment is often prescribed for practical reasons such as providing the patient with a functionally improved bite (occlusion).
If the main goal of the desired treatment is the repositioning of the teeth, most commonly a fixed, multibracket appliance is used. With a fixed appliance system, orthodontic wires are inserted into the orthodontic brackets and auxiliaries such as elastics and power chains are used to facilitate tooth movement. The brackets are usually made of stainless steel or a more aesthetic ceramic material. Dr. Hughes also uses herbst appliances and palatal expanders to correct skeletal discrepancies in the jaw relationships of growing patients. In some cases minor tooth movement may be accomplished with removable type appliances such as clear aligner Appliances and spring retainers.
After a course of active orthodontic treatment, patients will often wear retainers, which will maintain the teeth in their improved position while the surrounding bone reforms around them. The retainers are generally worn full-time for a short period, perhaps 6 months to a year, and then worn periodically (typically nightly during sleep) for as long as the orthodontist recommends. It is possible for the teeth to stay aligned without regular retainer wear. However, there are many reasons teeth will crowd as a person ages; thus there is no guarantee that teeth, orthodontically treated or otherwise, will stay aligned without retention. For this reason, many orthodontists recommend periodic retainer wear for many years (or indefinitely) after orthodontic treatment.
Traditional orthodontic appliances —- fixed appliance systems where Orthodontic wires are inserted into the brackets which have been placed in a precise position on each tooth. Auxiliaries such as elastics and power chains are used to facilitate tooth movement. The brackets are usually made of stainless steel or ceramic material for a more esthetic look.
Clear Aligner Therapy — uses a series of removable clear aligners to align the teeth. These are appliances such as clear aligner Appliances and spring retainers, Clear Correct and Clear Image.
Orthodontics/Orthognathic Surgery — In Patients where there is a skeletal growth discrepancy between the upper and lower jaws, a combination of traditional orthodontics and orthognathic surgery may be required to achieve an ideal result.
Early Treatment for Children
Early Treatment for children is recommended when children have skeletal discrepancies such as anterior and posterior cross bites, and severe overbites. These treatments may begin as early as age 6-8. Palatal expanders, Herbst appliances and facemasks are often used in these patients.
We also recommend early treatment for finger and thumb habits. In these patients a habit appliance is used to deter the habit.
The majority of orthodontic patients are adolescents. These patients are treated with traditional appliances, ceramic appliances or Clear aligner therapy. Patients with severe overbites are treated with Herbst appliances to correct their abnormal growth patterns during adolescence. Some children also require orthognathic surgery in combination with their orthodontics. The surgery is usually not performed until growth is complete in these patients.
After a course of orthodontic treatment, patients will wear retainers, which will maintain the teeth in their new, improved position while the surrounding bone reforms around them. The retainers are usually worn full time for a period of time and then at night for as long as the orthodontist recommends. It is possible for the teeth to stay aligned without regular retainer wear. However, there are many reasons why the teeth will crowd as a person ages; thus there is no guarantee that teeth, orthodontically treated or otherwise, will stay aligned without retention. For this reason, we recommend periodic retainer for many years or indefinitely after orthodontic treatment.
We believe in the highest quality patient care and use only the best products for our patients. That’s why we use Opal Seal, a protective sealant that functions similar the sealants that dentists use. The purpose of Opal Seal is to protect the teeth from bacterial plaque, during orthodontic treatment. We apply it over the tooth surface before the brackets are placed. Opal Seal delivers a constant, safe, low dose of fluoride to the enamel throughout orthodontic treatment. Fluoride is an essential mineral to preserve healthy enamel. Opal seal, along with proper oral hygiene, will prevent decalcification (white spots) and decay.
How does it work?
Before putting a bracket on, your orthodontist will apply a thin layer of Opal Seal to the entire surface of your tooth. It will keep the bracket in place and contribute to your enamel health in two important ways . . .
Just as its name implies, Opal Seal acts as a “seal”, or barrier between your enamel and plaque by completely covering the tooth surface.
Opal Seal provides fluoride to your teeth. Fluoride is an essential mineral for preserving healthy enamel, which is why it’s in many water sources and almost all toothpastes.