Orthodontics, the branch of dentistry concerned with the growth of the teeth, jaws and face, is in high demand. In excess of 200,000 children and teenagers in England and Wales have treatment within the NHS every year, with growing numbers of adults and young people seeking treatment on a private basis. Why? Orthodontic treatment is about making the best of your teeth; it's about improving the harmony of your mouth and jaws. Once you can bite together correctly, you can eat more comfortably and care for your teeth and gums more easily. And your smile will benefit immensely!
Most courses of orthodontic treatment begin with a referral from a general dentist to a specialist. Depending on what treatment is needed, most patients are seen by a specialist in a local practice or by a consultant in hospital. Some patients are treated by dentists with extra training and experience to treat the milder cases.
The benefits of orthodontic treatment include:
- Removal of dental crowding or closing spaces
- Alignment of the upper and lower dental arches
- Correction of the bite of the teeth so that the front teeth meet on closing and the back teeth mesh together
- Reducing the likelihood of damage to prominent teeth
- Enhancing facial aesthetics
- Accommodating impacted, unerupted or displaced teeth
- Preparation for advanced dental treatment, such as crowns, bridges or dental implants
- Reversing the drifting of the teeth in older patients who have suffered from advanced gum disease
These are some of the most common reasons patients seek treatment:
- Protruding upper front teeth - one of the most common dental problems
- Crowding – a narrow jaw may mean there is not enough room for your teeth, resulting in crowding. Conversely, some patients have significant gaps between their teeth.
- Asymmetry – particularly when the centre lines of the upper and lower front teeth do not match, perhaps because the teeth have drifted or the position of the jaw has shifted.
- A deep bite – when your upper teeth cover the lower teeth too much
- A reverse bite – when your upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth
- An open bite – when your front teeth remain apart when your back teeth meet; the tongue is often still visible between the upper and lower front teeth.
- Impacted teeth - in some patients, secondary teeth come through in the wrong position or do not erupt at all. Orthodontic treatment can help bring these teeth into the correct position.