Orthodontic treatment

What is normal occlusion like?

In the ideal occlusion, the teeth of both the upper jaw and the lower jaw are in an even and gapless straight line. The teeth of the upper jaw are in a slightly broader arch compared to the lower teeth. When bitten together, the lower teeth contact the upper teeth, and the front teeth of the upper jaw cover a few millimeters of the front teeth of the lower jaw. The midline, i.e. the gap between the front teeth of both jaws, is in a symmetric line with the median line of the face and each other.

Few people have a perfect ideal occlusion. Deviated midline, slight crowding or gaps are however usually not disturbing in terms of function or esthetics. Yet if the deviation from ideal occlusion is great or bothers the individual, orthodontics are a good solution.

Malocclusion may cause facial pain and make chewing food more difficult. Severely crowded teeth are harder to keep clean, increasing the tendency to gum disease and dental decay. Many often consider an even and straight row of teeth attractive.

The reason for malocclusion is often genetic. However, modern habits and the changed environment also have an impact on the emergence of malocclusion. The food we eat is no longer as coarse as it used to be, and chewing is not necessary in the same way as before.

Increased allergies and impurities in the air cause many to breath through the mouth instead of the nose. In mouth breathing, the tongue is not in its correct resting place, the palate. This often results in the upper jaw remaining narrower. Prolonged finger or pacifier sucking also predispose to the emergence of malocclusion.

How is orthodontic treatment conducted?

Orthodontic treatment is usually conducted in childhood and adolescence when the growth of the face and eruption of the teeth are still underway. While the facial bones are still growing, it is easier to influence them, and with the correct devices, teeth can be made to erupt in the desired location.

At the beginning of orthodontic treatment, a radiograph is taken and a gypsum cast is taken of the teeth. An individual treatment plan is made based on these, and the progress of the treatment can be easily monitored in comparison with the initial casts.

There are many types of malocclusion, so there are various devices used in orthodontic treatment. Some of the devices are ordered from dental laboratories where a dental technician produces an individual orthodontic device based on the cast of the teeth. Some of the devices are available factory-made, and some are produced by dentists at the visit. Fixed orthodontic devices are permanently fixed to the teeth for the duration of the treatment. The daily time of using removable devices is individual and depends also on the device. Some devices are only used at night, others at all times except when eating.

During orthodontic treatment, one visits the dentist frequently to control the success of the treatment. As the treatment progresses, the devices may be adjusted and the daily time of using them changed. If there are fixed devices in the mouth, keeping the teeth clean may become more difficult. If necessary, a dentist or oral hygienist may help in the cleaning.

How long does orthodontic treatment last?

Orthodontic treatment is often long-term and depends a lot on the type of malocclusion. When the teeth are moved, the forces must be small enough not to damage the teeth. Often there are several phases in the orthodontic treatment, and the daily time of using the orthodontic devices is adjusted as the treatment progresses. The actual straightening phase is often followed by a retention phase in which the teeth are no longer moved but the devices are still used to keep the achieved result permanent.

Is it possible to straighten an adult’s teeth?

Orthodontic treatment at an adult age is fully possible and relatively common nowadays. In some cases, oral and maxillofacial surgery is used to help orthodontic treatment in order to achieve the desired results.





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