If you are unhappy with your smile, you are not alone. Fully 80 percent of teens and an estimated 25 percent of adults are currently seeking the help of orthodontic professionals to achieve a straighter, whiter smile. Most parents are now advised to schedule their child’s first orthodontic visit as early as age seven, especially if there is a family history of not aligned teeth or adult bottom and top teeth that grow in with improper spacing.
To alleviate your suspense, the answer to the question posed in the title to this article is a definitive YES. Absolutely, braces can help to correct issues of tooth spacing, alignment, bite, jaw pain, and other oral health issues. Read on to learn more about how this process works.
Understanding How Crooked Teeth Occur
The teeth become misaligned or crooked in two main ways. The first is through family history. Like it or not, genetics plays a large role in whether a child’s adult teeth will grow in smoothly and evenly with a uniform bite or….not.
But the other main reason why tooth or bite issues occur happens later in life due to behavior. This list highlights some of the most common ways that teeth can become crooked or misaligned other than due to simple DNA:
1. Thumb sucking or continued pacifier use.
These seemingly innocent and comforting infant behaviors represent two of the biggest behavioral culprits of early childhood misalignment in bottom and top teeth.
When sucking the thumb becomes a habit, this causes teeth to grow in at an angle instead of straight.
2. Tongue thrusting.
Tongue thrusting is linked to thumb sucking, but it can also occur independently. It occurs when the tongue is held between the teeth rather than resting on the upper soft palate during swallowing.
Patients often don’t know they are doing it until their teeth start moving. Like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting can cause teeth to grow in at an angle and spaced more widely than is desirable.
3. Oral trauma.
Examples of oral trauma that can cause not aligned teeth can include sports injuries, being involved in a vehicle accident or having a bad fall.
Who Treats Misaligned Teeth and Bite Issues?
Outside of the field of oral health education and science, much confusion remains about the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist.
However, it is critical to understand the role each plays in helping you achieve optimal dental health so you seek out the right type of professional for the care you need.
Dentist Education and Training.
A dentist has completed a four-year college degree and a four-year dental school degree. Upon graduation, the dentist is awarded a doctoral degree and can then sit for the licensure exam to practice dental medicine.
If you need an annual dental checkup, a cleaning, or minor tooth work such as fillings, a dentist is trained and licensed to perform these procedures for you.
Orthodontist Education and Training.
An orthodontist has completed a four-year college degree and a four-year dental school degree. Then, the orthodontist goes on to complete a two-year (or longer) residency in orthodontic medicine. Upon graduation from the residency, the orthodontist can practice either dental medicine or orthodontic medicine or both.
Here, you will notice that only the orthodontist has trained in how braces align jaws and straighten out teeth and bite issues. There are many techniques only orthodontists are trained and licensed to use that can correct even long-standing teeth and bite issues.
When to Seek Orthodontic Care
People seek out orthodontic care for two reasons: appearance and oral health.
The first reason to seek out orthodontic care is simply a personal dissatisfaction with the appearance of the teeth and smile. If the teeth are crooked or the bite is misaligned, it can cause self-consciousness.
This self-consciousness can have more of an impact than a simple unwillingness to smile in photos or up close with friends or colleagues. Even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have published studies linking personal smile satisfaction with overall confidence and well being.
From competing in extracurricular activities to interviewing for jobs to going out on dates to choosing a mate, your smile and how willing you are to show it definitely makes a difference in how successful you are in life. The same holds true for your children.
For some people, the main reason to seek out orthodontic care is cosmetic with a side of health. Braces align jaws and teeth, making a minor tweak here and there, and the overall course of treatment is simple and quick.
But for a significant number of patients, the primary reason to get braces is to stave off serious oral health issues that can be life-limiting if not fatal. WebMD cites issues ranging from the onset of gingivitis/periodontal disease to speech difficulties that can arise due to failure to correct crooked teeth.
How to Begin Orthodontic Treatment
Most orthodontists today treat patients of all ages – children, tweens, teens, and adults. If both you and your child need orthodontic treatment, you may be able to ease any fears your child has by getting treated together!
Your first visit will be a consultation so you can share your family dental health history and ask questions. Expect that you will have some X-ray pictures taken so the orthodontist can view what is going on beneath the gum line. This is necessary so your orthodontist can get a big picture view of what is going on in your mouth and with your teeth and jaw.
The X-ray images can also help your orthodontist decide on the best course of orthodontic care to achieve your appearance and health goals as quickly and completely as possible.
You can also find out if the orthodontist works with any dental insurance providers and/or if financing is an option. Then you can schedule your first appointment to begin orthodontic treatment.
Contact Us Today
To learn more or begin your journey to a straight, white smile you can show off with pride, give us a call at 540-898-2200 / 540-659-6300 / 540-775-2022 or visit us online at http://beecroftorthodontics.com.
My Bottom and Top Teeth Are Not Aligned, Can Braces Help Align My Jaws?