ORTHODONTICS- For Better Health

Dr Akshay Gupta
Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that is officially known as Orthodontics and Dentofacial orthopedics. The purpose of orthodontics is to treat malocclusion through braces and other “appliances” to straighten teeth and correct jaw alignment. An orthodontist is a dentist who specialises in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
“What’s dental braces got to do with health ?”
A lot ! As you are aware that your mouth is the gateway to your health i.e. whatever you put in your mouth needs to be broken down in small pieces, so that the stomach may easily digest it. This job is delegated to your teeth, jaws and the muscles around your mouth.
“What difference does it make, if teeth are not ‘straight’ ?”
If the upper and lower teeth/jaws are not in the correct place, or sometimes even a single tooth that is not in correct position, can cause interference in biting, and we tend to shift the lower jaw such that it gets the upper and lower teeth, as nearly in the correct place, as possible, to break down the food evenly. This shift can cause uneven wear of one or many teeth , thereby weaken the teeth, cause pain in the gums around the teeth, pain in the jaw, pain in the jaw joint “TMJ”, pain in the head and neck, or, a combination of these.
When teeth are out of their normal positions in both upper and lowers jaws of an individual the condition is designated as Malocclusion.Malocclusion can be specific to dental structures ,can be associated with underlying skeleton or can be combination of both.Malocclusion can manifest in a wide range and variations in the dental arch like spacing/ crowding/ protrusion /retrusion /rotation etc.
Adverse consequences of Malocclusion
A person’s malocclusion can have a direct effect on his/her facial aesthetics leading to poor social image and psychological disturbances. Quality of life can also be affected due to compromised functions of the oral cavity such as difficulty in articulation and lack of clarity of certain words, loss of tooth substance and attrition leading to hypersensitivity of teeth, increased susceptibility to trauma of protruded teeth during sports activities. If the teeth are not in the correct place, it becomes difficult to clean the teeth and gums which not only gives a bad smell , but you may also end up havingmore cavities in your teeth and gum infection. In the long run, you may end up losing few, or, many of your teeth.
Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment:
Improved smile/facial aesthetics
Improved oral functions
Positive psychological outlook
Improved body image
Reduction of Obstructive sleep apnea
The various treatment options available to the patients are:
Removable appliances/plates for minor corrections and intercepting future malocclusion
Preventive removable trainers/ appliances
Functional jaw Orthopedics appliances for modifying/ redirecting the growth of facial skeleton.
Fixed braces for Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment.
Habits such as thumb sucking, mouth breathing,tongue thrusting etc. should be curtailed as early as possible as these habits poses a threat of deforming the dental arches by flaring up the upper front teeth ,pushing back the lower front teeth, constricting jaws, cross bites etc.
To control these habits, apart from psychological approach different types of appliances needs to be worn by the child for at least 6-8months depending on the severity of the problem.
Usually fixed orthodontic treatment commences when the permanent teeth have emerged in the mouth. But there are are many instances when the preliminary treatment needs to be commenced at as early as 8-9yrs, and therefore checkup of a child by an Orthodontist should be planned no later than 7 years of age as recommended by American Association of Orthodontics and endorsed by Indian Orthodontic Society.
Options for comprehensive Orthodontic treatment
Metal braces: most popular, efficient and chosen by all age groups.
Ceramic braces- Usually recommended for adults who demand different and less obvious braces.
Lingual braces-chosen by professionals, models or adult patients with active social life. These braces are invisible as they are placed on the inner aspect of the teeth
Usual duration of fixed braces lasts around one to three years depending upon the severity of the condition.
Invisalign/ Aligners – are the upcoming treatment appliances which involves a series of removable soft trays which the patient has to wear sequentially.
WORLD ORTHODONTIC HEALTH DAY, is celebrated by Orthodontic Associations around the world on 15th May . The “World Federation of Orthodontics” chose May 15 for World Orthodontic Health Day as it marks the signing of the WFO’s charter in 1995 during the 4th International Orthodontic Congress in San Francisco. As braces are not just for good looks ,World orthodontic health Day is celebrated to raise the awareness about the importance of straight teeth in overall health of individual and to promote the awareness of ill effects of malocclusion and promoting the science/speciality of Orthodontics to solve this problem.
May 15, 2017 was the first World Orthodontic Health Day
An Orthodontist’s Message for World OrthodonticHealth Day-
Professional Services when taken from IOS Certified Qualified Orthodontist can gift you a confident smile,can work wonders; it inspires , motivate and give comfort. It has the power of thousand unspoken words. Healthy teeth are often referred to as “32 pearls” because of the immense aesthetic value they add to the face when they are well aligned and correctly positioned in the jaws. The importance of celebrating 15th May as the “World Orthodontic Health Day” is also for creating awareness, that the first Orthodontic consultation of child , if planned at 7 years of age can help create beautiful and healthy smiles which lasts lifetime.
(The author is Professor and Head Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics Indira Gandhi Government dental college Jammu)