What is orthodontics, and How does it work?

Dr. Hoss Abar

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A confident smile can light up a room, boost self-esteem, and leave a lasting impression. Orthodontic treatment is vital in helping individuals achieve beautiful, healthy smiles by addressing various dental and jaw alignment issues.  

In this blog, we'll cover the fundamentals of orthodontics, including tooth movement and biological processes. We will also discuss the importance of orthodontics in improving dental health, correcting bite issues, and enhancing overall appearance.  

Understanding the term "Orthodontics"   

Orthodontics is a specialized area of dentistry dedicated to identifying, preventing, and correcting problems associated with the positioning of teeth and jaws. It focuses on properly positioning teeth and jaws to improve the mouth's function and appearance. Orthodontic treatment can help to straighten crooked or misaligned teeth, correct bite issues, and improve overall dental health.  

Overview of Orthodontics   

Orthodontic problems can occur due to many reasons, such as:  

  • Genetics  
  • Childhood habits like thumb-sucking  
  • Injury  

Common orthodontic issues include:   

  • Crooked or crowded teeth  
  • Overbites, underbites, and crossbites
Crooked or crowded teeth

These issues can affect a person's appearance, oral health, and overall quality of life.  

Orthodontic treatment typically begins with an initial consultation with an orthodontist, who will examine the patient's teeth and jaw and create a treatment plan tailored to their needs. Treatment options may include braces, Invisalign, and other appliances designed to help move teeth into the correct positions.  

Orthodontic treatment can take several months or years to complete, depending on the severity of the issue and the chosen treatment method. However, the benefits of treatment can be long-lasting, including improved oral health, a more attractive smile, and increased self-confidence.  

Who offers orthodontic treatment?   

Orthodontists are dental professionals who have completed a dental degree and then completed an additional two to three years of specialized training in orthodontics. They are trained to diagnose and treat many orthodontic issues, including crowded or crooked teeth, bite problems, and misalignments.  

Furthermore, orthodontists typically offer orthodontic treatment, although some general dentists may also provide primary orthodontic care. Conferring with a qualified dental professional for your specific orthodontic needs is important.  

How Orthodontics Works?  

Orthodontic Principles 

Orthodontic treatment works based on several principles. One of the main principles is that when a constant, gentle force is applied to teeth, they will move in the desired direction. Orthodontic appliances, such as braces, wires, and rubber bands, apply this force to the teeth. The amount of force applied and the direction of the force will depend on the patient's specific needs.  

Another essential principle is that bone will resorb or grow in response to the applied force. When pressure is applied to the teeth, the bone around them will begin to break down, allowing teeth mobility. Once the tooth has moved into its new position, the bone will start to grow around it, stabilizing it in its new position.  

Tooth Movement  

The process of tooth movement during orthodontic treatment involves several stages. First, an orthodontic appliance is placed on the teeth to apply a constant, gentle force to move the teeth. As the teeth move, the bone around them starts to break down, allowing them to shift in the desired direction. Over time, new bone will grow around the teeth to stabilize them in their new position.  

The amount of time it takes for teeth to move can vary depending on the severity of the orthodontic issue, the type of appliance used, and other factors. Orthodontic treatment can take several months to several years to complete.  

Biological Response to Orthodontic Force  

The biological response to orthodontic force involves a complex series of events that occur in the bone, teeth, and surrounding tissues. When pressure is applied to the teeth, it causes the bone around them breaks down through a process called resorption. This allows the teeth to move in the desired direction.  

As the teeth move, the surrounding tissues, such as the gums and ligaments, also adapt to the new position of the teeth. The ligaments that hold the teeth in place will stretch in response to the applied force, allowing the teeth to move. The gums will also adapt to the new position of the teeth, making it easier to clean them effectively.  

Over time, new bone will grow around the teeth to stabilize them in their new position. This process is called remodeling and can take several months to complete. The amount of new bone that forms will depend on the amount of force applied and the duration of the force.

Orthodontic Force

Who should have orthodontic treatment?

Here are some examples of situations where orthodontic treatment may be appropriate:  

  • Crowded or crooked teeth: Individuals with crowded or crooked teeth may benefit from orthodontic treatment to straighten and align the teeth. This can improve the appearance of the teeth and make them easier to clean, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.  
  • Bite problems: Bite problems, such as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite, can cause discomfort and may lead to more serious dental issues over time. Orthodontic treatment can help correct these issues, improving the teeth and jaw function.  
  • Jaw misalignment: Individuals with a misaligned jaw may experience pain or discomfort when eating, speaking, or opening their mouths. Orthodontic treatment can help correct the jaw's position, improving its function and reducing discomfort.  
  • Dental problems related to thumb sucking or pacifier use: Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can cause dental problems, such as an open bite or other alignment issues. Dental professionals do not recommend orthodontic treatment to correct these issues.  
  • Aesthetic concerns: Orthodontic treatment can also address aesthetic problems, such as gaps between the teeth or an asymmetrical smile.

Who shouldn't have orthodontic treatment?   

Here are some examples of situations where orthodontic treatment may not be appropriate:  

  • Poor overall health: Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes or heart problems, may not be good candidates for orthodontic treatment. It is essential to discuss any medical concerns with your orthodontist before beginning treatment.  
  • Severe periodontal disease: Individuals with severe periodontal disease may need treatment to address the condition before beginning orthodontic treatment. Periodontal disease can result in tooth mobility, making them susceptible to the forces exerted during orthodontic treatment. 
  • Certain jaw conditions: Individuals with certain jaw conditions, such as a severely receded or protruding jaw, may not be good candidates for orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists suggest surgery to correct the underlying jaw issue in some cases before orthodontic treatment can be effective.  
  • Age-related issues: In some cases, orthodontists do not recommend orthodontic treatment for older adults. The teeth and jaw may be less responsive to orthodontic forces, making it more challenging to achieve the desired results.  

While orthodontic treatment can benefit many individuals, it may not be appropriate for everyone. Individuals with certain medical conditions, severe periodontal disease, certain jaw conditions, or age-related issues may not be good candidates for orthodontic treatment.  

If you are considering orthodontic treatment, getting guidance from an orthodontist is crucial to determining your treatment eligibility. They will evaluate your orthodontic issues and create a personalized treatment plan to help you achieve a healthy, functional, attractive smile.

Contact your Pinole dentist, Dr. Hoss Abar, DDS, MSD at Abar Orthodontics, to know more about orthodontics and how it works.


Adult Orthodontics: What are my treatment options? 

This media/content or any other on this website does not prescribe, recommend, or prevent any treatment or procedure. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the advice of a qualified dentist or other medical practitioners regarding your specific dental condition.

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