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If you’re thinking about straightening your teeth, you might start by talking to your dentist. Some general dentists provide specialist services such as orthodontic treatment. However, they won’t have the same level of training and expertise as an orthodontist.
An orthodontist is a specialist who has trained as a dentist and then spent a further three years studying orthodontics full time. Your dentist can refer you to a specialist orthodontist, or you can contact them directly to arrange an initial consultation.
Most individuals go to see an orthodontist because they want to improve the appearance of their smile, but this isn’t the only thing they can help with. Here are some common ‘dental scenarios’ where a specialist orthodontist can be of service.
You’re not happy with the appearance of your teeth
If you’re unhappy about the alignment of your teeth, an orthodontist can help. Whether your teeth are crowded, crooked, twisted or widely spaced, they’ll be able to provide you with your options and tell you how long your treatment is likely to take. Most orthodontists offer a choice of braces to straighten unruly teeth, including fixed braces, removable braces and lingual braces (which hide behind your teeth!).
You’re unhappy with your profile
You may be happy with the way your teeth are aligned, but dislike your profile because of a discrepancy between your lower and upper jaws. In adults, braces can sometimes create a small improvement by changing the position of your teeth. However, surgery may be recommended for the best result. Either way, your orthodontist will be able to carry out a thorough assessment and refer you for a surgical opinion if necessary.
Your teeth don’t bite together correctly
Sometimes misaligned teeth and jaws don’t bite together properly, making it difficult to eat and chew your food properly. An open bite for example, where the front teeth don’t bite together, can make biting into foods like sandwiches tricky. Teeth that don’t meet together correctly can also cause you to put too much pressure on certain areas, leading to excess wear and damage.
You find it difficult to keep your teeth clean
Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing is so important for a healthy mouth. It’s vital to brush all the surfaces of your teeth to remove food and plaque, but this can be tricky if your teeth are crowded and overlap. Some areas can be hidden by neighbouring teeth, making them difficult to reach. Interdental brushes can make the job easier, but you may want to consider straightening your teeth if you’re struggling to keep on top of plaque. (Your dentist will be the first person to let you know if this is the case!).
You keep knocking your front teeth
Sometimes certain teeth can stick out, leaving them more susceptible to knocks and bumps. An overjet, for example, is where the top teeth extend horizontally past the bottom teeth. As well as being uncomfortable – and slightly stressful – bumping your teeth can cause fractures and chips and potentially damage your gums. If you are unlucky enough to have a more serious collision, protruding teeth can also increase your risk of injury, and worst-case scenario the loss of a tooth.
You have speech difficulties
While orthodontic treatment can’t improve all speech problems, if the cause is misaligned teeth it should be able to help. For example, significant gaps between teeth can make it difficult to pronounce certain sounds, while an open bite can sometimes cause a lisp. Braces themselves can cause a lisp, particularly lingual braces and clear aligners, but this is only temporary and will quickly improve with practice.
Your teeth are starting to move
If you’re happy with your smile, but your teeth are starting to move, you may want to consider making an appointment with an orthodontist. As we get older our teeth have a natural tendency to move forward and overlap as they fight for space. Not only can braces correct this crowding, but your orthodontist will be able to give you retainers to hold your teeth in their new position. If your teeth have only just started to move, treatment can take as little as a few months.
The first step to seeking help for any of these concerns is making an appointment with an orthodontist. Click here to find your local eBrace provider.