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Orthodontic Care

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is that specialty branch of dentistry dealing with crooked or malaligned teeth and jaws.

Straight teeth are important for a nice smile which in turn is important for esthetics and good looks as well as psychological confidence and social acceptability. Correct jaw positioning as well as well positioned teeth are together important for mastication (chewing), digestion, speech and good looks, in other words physiological and psychological health. Straight teeth are also easier to keep clean and this enhances the health of the gums and of the oral cavity in general.

Crooked teeth

Crooked teeth and jaws and unbalanced facial problems could be caused by heredity(genes), environmental factors (air pollution causing altered breathing patterns; nutrition etc.) and habits (thumb sucking). This exemplifies the importance of a balanced diet, healthy lifestyle and absence of deleterious habits in stimulating normal growth and development of the teeth and jaws. However, most dental and skeletal malocclusion, being of genetic origin, are not preventable and may present as buck teeth, crooked teeth, missing teeth, teeth of the incorrect size and/or shape, additional or extra teeth, incorrectly positioned jaws, larger or smaller than normal jaws, cleft palate etc.

Orthodontic Problems

Orthodontic problems could manifest at any age, but normally most problems are diagnosable between 6 and 14 years of age. Many problems, such as single tooth crossbites could be treated as young as 7 or 8 years of age. Many problems should be treated while the child is actively growing, between 8 and 16 years of age. Males on average mature about 2 years later than females and may continue active growth into the 16th year. Growth modification or growth stimulation (orthopedics) of the jaws must be accomplished while the patient is growing and the active growth period in females ends at about 12 years of age and 14 years in males.

During orthopedics the patient may be required to wear a nightbrace (headgear) or activating appliance (functional appliance) at night during sleeping hours.

Sometimes it is beneficial to undertake treatment in 2 phases, starting with an early or first phase of treatment which normally last about 1 year. Once all the baby teeth have fallen out and all the adult teeth have erupted, orthodontic treatment of both arches can be undertaken. Full-fixed orthodontic appliances or braces are normally placed on the teeth to straighten them. Braces are normally worn for about 2 years with the patient coming into the office every 4 to 6 weeks for adjustments. After orthodontic treatment is finished, a retention appliance (retainer) often needs to be worn to keep the teeth straight. In certain instances, the jaws are so malpositioned, that orthogathic surgery or jaw surgery in combination with braces is required to correct the malocclusion.


Sometimes at the end of treatment, the dentist needs to build-up some teeth with an aesthetic tooth, coloured resin or filling material or some other prosthodontic prosthesis to restore it. This is part of those difficult cases requiring multidisiplinary treatment.

Put steady pressure on your teeth, guiding them into place. Brackets are cemented to the teeth. They have grooves that hold the archwires.


A retainer holds your teeth in their new positions while bone grows in to hold them steady. You may wear a positioner first, to move your teeth each slightly and put the finishing touch on your new smile. Make sure your child wears their retainer as many hours as the orthodontist suggests. Brush the retainer with toothpaste once a day. When your children are eating, keep them safely in its case.


Make sure you brush your teeth right after every meal and before you go to bed. Use a fluoride toothpaste to help fight cavities. Your orthodontist may also prescribe a fluoride mouth rinse to help prevent cavities.

Follow this brushing method with braces:

1.    Start by brushing the outside of each tooth at least 10 times.
2.    Brush the inside surface of each tooth at least 10 times, too.
3.    Then brush where your gums and teeth meet, using a rolling motion.
4.    Brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth last, and rinse with water.

Brushing alone won’t keep your teeth clean - flossing can help. A floss threader, available from your orthodontist helps you floss with braces on. Floss once a day, like this:

1.    Thread floss through the threader and slip it up behind your archwire.
2.    Pull the floss between two teeth and up under your gum margins.
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