The word “Orthodontics” is derived from the Greek orthos (“straight”) and odont (“tooth”). But, providing patients with properly aligned teeth and a beautiful smile is just one of the benefits of orthodontic treatment. In some instances, misalignment of teeth can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and bone loss. An “incorrect bite” can lead to speech impairments, chipped teeth and other dental injuries.
One of the most important aspects of orthodontic treatment is the ability to modify facial growth in growing children. Certain treatment modalities such as palatal expansion (widening the upper jaw) or maxillary protraction (moving the upper jaw forward) require that patients have growth remaining. It is for this reason that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child should get a check-up with an orthodontist no later than age 7. By this age, enough permanent teeth have erupted and enough jaw growth has occurred that the orthodontist can identify current problems, anticipate future problems and alleviate parents’ concerns if all seems normal.
In many cases, patients have a skeletal discrepancy; in other words, their upper and lower jaws are not properly positioned in relation to one another. This skeletal discrepancy can be manifested as facial asymmetry, underbite, excessive overbite, excessive gum display, etc. In these cases, a combination of orthodontics and orthognathic (jaw modification) surgery is needed to obtain ideal results.
If you are an existing patient and are experiencing an orthodontic emergency, please call us any time (510) 793-9025