Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
Orthodontists are doctors who, after graduating from dental school, complete an advanced education program to learn the complex skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development. Orthodontists are the uniquely trained experts in dentistry who straighten teeth and align jaws.
In addition to improving oral function and long-term dental health, orthodontic treatment brings about a tremendous improvement in facial appearance and smile. In today's world good appearance and a good smile go a long way in making a person feel confident and comfortable with one's self.
People with good looks and a pleasant smile are perceived well by others and are treated favourably by them.
Good-looking children are subconsciously liked more by parents, teachers and other adults.
Good-looking adults are more likely to get good jobs, more friends and better life partners.
So, the value of orthodontic treatment cannot be overemphasized. It is a question of a child's or an adult's future physical and psychological well-being.
Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7. As most children have a mix of adult and baby teeth at this time, orthodontist can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth. That's important, because early orthodontic interception may prevent more serious problems from developing, or make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated.
There is no upper age limit for treating an adult. Persons in their 40's and 50's and even 60's can also be treated for orthodontic problems. The deciding factors would be the condition of the teeth and the supporting structures like gums and bone.
The duration of orthodontic treatment varies according to the condition of the teeth and jaws at the beginning. On an average, treatment with the fixed braces takes about 1.5 to 2 years in cases where all the permanent teeth have erupted and there is minimal jaw discrepancy.
In growing children where jaw discrepancies have to be corrected it may take 3 to 4 years. The treatment may be split into two phases.
Different orthodontic problems need different treatment modalities and different duration of treatment times. So the fees are decided according to the condition to be treated. The treatment fees differ from patient to patient as their conditions differ. The fees may vary from Rs.10,000/- for minor corrections to Rs.50,000/- or more for the correction of severe irregularities
It is a relative term. Orthodontic treatment costs so much because the treatment goes on for a long duration. The appliances used are expensive. There are certain expenses incurred to maintain a high level of sterilization of equipment and asepsis of the clinic. The fees are professional charges for the knowledge, experience and skill of the orthodontist. Considering the life-long positive physical, psychological and social benefits of orthodontic treatment, whatever spent on orthodontic treatment should be considered as a sound investment.
In the first consultation the patient is examined and the condition of the teeth, jaws, face and the function is assessed. History is taken to know the patient's health condition. Then the patient and the parents are explained about the treatment procedures. The patient is then sent for special x-rays needed for diagnosis and treatment planning.
In the next appointment impressions are taken and the x-rays are collected to study them.
The final treatment plan, expected duration of treatment, and fees etc. are discussed in the next appointment. If the patient and parents are agreeable for the treatment then appointments are fixed for starting the treatment.
Cosmetic or aesthetic dentistry is a recently developed branch of dentistry that deals with the shape, size and the colour of the teeth. It may be useful in minor corrections of irregular teeth but it cannot substitute for orthodontic treatment. And it does not give a life-long solution for orthodontic problems
The aesthetic procedures may have to be repeated periodically. At times these procedures may be harmful to the teeth and gums.
In some cases, both orthodontic treatment and aesthetic procedures combined would give the best possible results.
Retainers are removable plates or wires given to prevent teeth from moving after the orthodontic treatment is completed. The teeth have a tendency to shift from their corrected positions as the bone supporting them is softer when the braces are removed and also there are a number of forces acting on the teeth. A retainer supports the teeth and keeps them in their corrected positions.
Usually the retainers are worn at least for a year and are gradually weaned off. In some cases longer retention may be necessary for the long term stability of the results.
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