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Orthodontics

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of problems relating to the misalignment of teeth and jaws.

The technical term for these problems is malocclusion, literally meaning ‘bad bite’.

Orthodontic treatments involve the planning and use of corrective appliances (such as braces and plates) to bring the teeth and jaws into proper alignment. This improves the health, appearance and function of the teeth.

Our orthodontic services include traditional braces, Invisalign clear aligners, functional appliances, and early intervention orthopaedics for children.

What is Malocclusion?

Occlusion refers to the alignment of teeth and the way that the upper and lower teeth and jaws fit together (bite).

Malocclusion refers to irregular contact between the upper and lower teeth, where there is a misalignment of your teeth and bite.

In correct occlusion the upper teeth should fit slightly over the lower teeth, and the points (cusps) of the molars (back teeth) should fit into the grooves of the opposing molar. The upper teeth keep you from biting your cheeks and lips, and the lower teeth protect your tongue.

When malocclusion is left untreated, it can lead to:

  • Tooth decay and poor oral hygiene.
  • Abnormal wear of tooth surfaces.
  • Chipped, fractured or broken teeth.
  • Excessive stress of gum tissue.
  • Discomfort.

  • Inefficient chewing and problems with digestion.
  • Clenching and grinding.
  • Chronic headaches.
  • Speech problems.
  • Improper breathing.

Video showing healthy occlusion:

 

What causes Malocclusion?

Malocclusion can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • A mismatch in size between the upper and lower jaws.
  • A mismatch in size between the jaw and teeth.
  • Jaws that under or over develop (are too large or too small).
  • Premature or congenital loss of the primary (baby) teeth.
  • Childhood para-functional habits including thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing.
  • Prolonged use of a dummy (pacifier) or bottle during childhood.

Video: Example of tongue thrusting. Tongue thrusting can cause a high/vaulted palate (left video), or can force the teeth forwards (right video).

 

What conditions can be corrected through orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment can correct conditions including:

  • Crowded teeth.
  • Crooked teeth.
  • Diastema (space between two teeth, usually the front teeth).
  • Multiple gaps between teeth.
  • Abnormal bite pattern of the upper and lower teeth.
  • Overjet (protrusion of the upper front teeth, also called ‘buck teeth’).
  • Overbite (when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth, also called a ‘closed bite’).
  • Underbite (when the lower jaw protrudes forward).
  • Crossbite (where the upper teeth bite on the inside of the lower teeth. Can occur on one or both sides).
  • Open bite (where the upper and lower teeth don’t touch even when the mouth is closed).


Video: Malocclusion information


Video: Example of overbite / closed bite.



Video: Example of crossbite.


Video: Example of open bite.

 

Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontic treatment can also involve the use of fixed or removable appliances, either instead of or in conjunction with braces or orthopaedics, such as:

  • Special fixed appliances to control para-functional habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting.
  • Fixed or removable space maintainers to hold the space for permanent (adult) teeth if a primary (baby) tooth is lost prematurely, which can prevent crowding.
  • Jaw repositioning appliances which guide the jaws to close in a more favourable position.
  • Palatal expanders to widen the arch of the upper jaw, reducing or eliminating the need to extract healthy teeth, and to prevent crowding.
  • Retainers to prevent teeth shifting back to their previous position (after orthodontic treatment).

Video: Orthodontic appliances information:

 

How Orthodontics can lead to better oral health and wellbeing

One of the most noticeable results of orthodontic treatment is that teeth are straightened and aligned to create a beautiful natural smile.

However, normal occlusion is also important for a number of other health factors, including:

When teeth are crooked, crowded or overlapping, it can become very difficult to adequately clean the teeth and maintain oral hygiene. This may lead to tooth decay or gum disease which can cause tooth loss.

When your teeth are properly aligned it creates a better, more comfortable bite. This may reduce stress, headaches, and strain on your supporting jaw joints which can cause damage and pain. Proper alignment also equally distributes biting forces amongst all the teeth which can prevent abnormal tooth wear, and fractures or broken teeth. Properly aligned teeth and jaws also chew more effectively, which can lead to better digestion.

A misaligned bite can lead to clenching and grinding, which can cause uneven and excessive wear of the teeth. Clenching and grinding can also lead to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) which is pain in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.

A severely misaligned bite can also cause improper breathing (breathing through the mouth instead of through the nose). It may also lead to speech problems, inaccurate speech development, or a speech impediment.

Invisalign clear aligners

Invisalign is the world’s most advanced clear aligner system1.
Invisalign logo

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a clear alternative to braces that involves the use of clear, removable aligners to effectively straighten teeth and correct a number of orthodontic conditions.

Clear aligners are the product, and Invisalign is the brand name of the aligners and system that we use.

Invisalign is a more flexible and less noticeable solution than traditional braces.

The aligners are made of a thin, lightweight, clear plastic and are designed to fit over your teeth on the upper or lower arch, or both. Each individual aligner is custom-made to fit snugly on your teeth and not feel bulky in your mouth. The aligners are worn day and night but can be removed when eating, flossing or cleaning your teeth, or for special occasions.

How does Invisalign work?

Invisalign treatment consists of a series of custom-made aligners that apply a constant force to your teeth to gradually move them into the desired position. Each aligner is changed every two weeks.

Video: How clear aligners work.

 

Advantages of Invisalign

Advantages of Invisalign include:

  • The clear aligners are virtually invisible.
  • The aligners are easily removable, allowing them to be removed before eating, brushing/flossing, and for special occasions. This means you don’t have to avoid certain foods, and you can continue to care for your teeth as normal throughout treatment.
  • They are a great option for patients who are not comfortable with the visual appearance of braces.
  • Smooth and comfortable to wear, so they won’t irritate your gums or the inside of your cheeks.
  • Safe and durable. The aligners are made from a clear, strong, medical grade non-toxic plastic.
  • Great for patients who play sport or musical instruments.
  • Effective – Invisalign can straighten teeth and also correct bite problems.

World-leading technology

Invisalign uses proprietary Clincheck® Software which has a 3D digital interface to visually map out your Invisalign journey.

The software includes an algorithm that, with assistance from your dentist, accurately plans your treatment and ensures tooth movement is precise and predictable.

The software allows you to preview how your teeth will move each week, and what the finished result will look like.

Invisalign-technology

The Invisalign procedure

After an initial consultation we will provide you with a treatment plan that includes how many visits you will need, how many aligners it will take to reach your desired result, and the costs involved.

The treatment begins with a 3D digital image of your teeth being produced within the Invisalign Clincheck® Software. Your dentist will use the interface to enter information and customise your treatment. You can also see a preview of what the final outcome will look like.

A series of clear aligners is then specifically fabricated for you based off this image and information. They will be sent to you in sets that are clearly labelled with the order you need to wear them in.

Each aligner is worn for two weeks before moving onto the next one in the series. You will visit us every 4-6 weeks so we can record your progress and ensure the treatment is working correctly.

Is Invisalign suitable for teenagers?

There is a specific Invisalign® product for teenagers called Invisalign® Teen, which includes a few helpful modifications.

Each aligner includes a small (discreet) indicator that gradually changes from blue to clear to remind teenagers that they are approaching the end of their wear time. This also allows parents/carers to check that the aligners are being worn correctly and for the appropriate length of time.

Traditional Braces

Braces are metal or ceramic brackets that are bonded (glued) to the front of individual teeth.

A lightweight wire is then threaded through each bracket and held in place with elastic ligature ties. Bands may also be fixed around the teeth to act as anchors for the appliance, if required.

Braces exert even, constant pressure onto teeth in order to gradually and precisely move them into a desired position. They can be used to both straighten teeth and also correct bite or jaw alignment problems.

Dental visits are required usually every four weeks (depending on which type of bracket is used) so we can adjust the tension, and check the treatment is progressing correctly.

Traditional braces use metal brackets with coloured ligature ties.
Patients can choose the colour of the ties, and change the colour at each adjustment appointment if desired.

For a more discreet option, ceramic brackets and clear ligature ties are available.

They are a translucent material which creates a more natural look.

Once braces have been removed, the patient will need to wear a retainer (a device that is either fixed or removable) for a certain period of time, which stops the teeth shifting back to their original position.

Video: Braces information.

 

Dentofacial Orthopaedics (growing children)

Early intervention orthodontics.

What is orthopaedics?

Dento-facial orthopaedics is also known as early-intervention orthodontic treatment, or interceptive orthodontics. It is used in growing children to address and intercept developing dentoskeletal problems.

Orthopaedics focuses on the correct growth and relationship of the jaw and facial bones for proper dental development, whereas orthodontics focuses on the correct alignment of the dentition (teeth).

Orthopaedics involves the use of custom-made functional appliances (also called ‘plates’), that may be either fixed or removable. The appliances are used to guide and correct the growth of a child’s bone structure, and balance the jaw size and jaw relationship, to improve dental function, facial profile and facial harmony.

Early intervention takes advantage of the fact that a child’s jaw is still growing to change the size, shape and relationship of the bones that structure the face and jaws before they are fully developed.

This can correct jaw malalignment, treat poor oral (para-functional) habits, prevent or treat sleep disorders, create adequate space for adult teeth to emerge, and prevent tooth crowding. Orthopaedics can also prevent the need to extract healthy permanent (adult) teeth to create correct alignment. This creates a fuller and more complete bite when the child is older.

Our dentists closely monitor the growth and development of your child’s smile, bite and facial profile to identify any potential developmental problems early.

Orthopaedics is often used prior to (in conjunction with) orthodontic treatment. In these cases, orthopaedics is used in the first phase of treatment to improve the alignment of the jaws (and prevent extreme tooth movement). In the second phase of treatment orthodontics, such as braces and retainers, are used to correctly align the teeth and create a proper bite. The initial orthopaedic treatment reduces the severity of the problem and results in less involved orthodontic treatment, shorter treatment times, and improves the overall result.

However, orthopaedics can also be used as the sole treatment method for minor adjustments.

Benefits of orthopaedic treatment

  • Improve the facial structure and create ideal facial symmetry.
  • Reduce or prevent the need for the extraction of otherwise ideal, healthy permanent (adult) teeth to create correct dental alignment.
  • Reduces orthodontic treatment time and can improve the result of orthodontic treatment (when implemented prior).
  • Can otherwise eliminate the need for orthodontic treatment (braces).
  • Decrease or prevent the need for surgical intervention to repair misaligned jaws.
  • Helps prevent more expensive and involved orthodontic and maxillofacial treatment later in life.
  • Prevent or treat sleep disorders (if airway is obstructed).

What conditions can orthopaedic appliances treat?

Orthopaedic appliances can prevent, treat, or reduce the development of conditions including or relating to:

  • Childhood para-functional habits including thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing.
  • A mismatch in size between the upper and lower jaws.
  • A mismatch in size between the jaws and teeth.
  • Retrognathism (where the mandibular – lower – jaw is set further back than the upper jaw).
  • Prognathism (where the mandibular – lower – jaw is extended further forward than the upper jaw).
  • Misalignment of the bone structure and jaws (crossbite, overbite, open bite).
  • Abnormal bite pattern of the upper and lower teeth.
  • Gaps between multiple teeth.
  • Diastemas (a gap between two teeth, usually the front teeth).
  • Crowding of the teeth.

 

 

References

  1. Invisalign: Unlock your best smile with the world’s most advanced clear aligners. (https://www.invisalign.com.au/)

 

This information is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It should not be taken as personal, professional advice; nor treatment or diagnosis. Always seek professional advice from an appropriately qualified medical practitioner.