Why Is Treatment Important?
These irregularities, if not treated, may lead to more problems as follows:
- Tooth decay and tooth loss as misaligned teeth are difficult to clean and maintain.
- Gum diseases.
- Abnormal wear of tooth surfaces.
- Excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissues.
- Misalignment of the jaw joints, resulting in chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck.
- Lower self esteem as the facial appearance is affected.
When Should Treatment Start?
A child should have his/her teeth checked at about age seven, when the permanent teeth start to grow. Although adolescents (11 to 15 years of age) are most responsive to orthodontics treatment, this early examination will alert the dentists to any potential problems. Orthodontics treatment is also suitable for adults and about 25% of patients today are adults. In general, treatment with braces will take approximately 1 to 2.5 years depending on a few factors such as the growth of the patient's face and mouth, co-operation of the patient and the severity of the problems.
For children, the best time to start depends on the type of malocclusion. Sometimes treatment is done in 2 phases:
- Phase 1
If the child's jaws are not aligned right or too small, the orthodontist may start treatment while the jaws are growing. This is called growth modification and is usually carried out between ages 7 to 12 and takes about 1 year. Subsequently, the orthodontist will review the child 6-monthly or yearly to monitor the development of the permanent teeth.
- Phase 2
If the child's adult or permanent teeth are not properly aligned when they erupt (usually between ages 11 to 13), they will need to be straightened and this is called Phase 2. Most children who have undergone Phase 1 treatment also need Phase 2.
Before Treatment Begins
During the first visit, the orthodontist examines your teeth and jaws and advises you whether you need treatment and what treatment will involve. You are under no obligation to proceed if you think you need more time to decide.If you decide to proceed with treatment, the orthodontist will carry out further analysis of your condition by means of X-rays, dental models (study models) and sometimes photographs before making a treatment plan. Informed consent is necessary prior to treatment so that you are fully aware of what treatment will involve.
The position of our teeth continues to change throughout life. This is a long term process that can lead to changes in the bite or in the alignment of the teeth. In addition, teeth have the tendency to return toward their original position after orthodontic treatment. This is called relapse. Therefore, retainers are provided to minimize this and ensure stability of the treatment outcome. The orthodontist will provide you with instructions on care and use of the retainers.