Orthodontics came from the root word ortho which means straight and odont which means tooth; it is the science of straightening misaligned teeth. Orthodontics is a field in dentistry which specializes in the correction of teeth and jaw that are improperly positioned. This misalignment is called malocclusion.
Malocclusion is caused by too much or too little space in your jaw for the normal growth of teeth. This could be also a result of a childhood habit (thumb sucking), loss of permanent tooth or heredity. When teeth are misaligned, they are harder to clean and because of this, dental cavities may develop in places where the toothbrush is unable to reach. Malocclusion can also interfere with your ability to chew and speak.
Malocclusion is corrected through orthodontic treatments. You may want to ask your dentist when to get orthodontic treatment. Usually, malocclusion is corrected during teenage years; however, there are also adults that undergo orthodontic treatments. Your dentist will determine if you are a candidate for an orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontic treatments include the use of fixed appliance, removable appliance and functional appliance. Fixed appliance includes the use of dental braces which are fixed around the teeth to apply pressure and move teeth to achieve proper alignment. Dental braces are usually made of wires, bands and brackets.
Removable appliance also corrects misalignment by applying pressure to the teeth to allow its movement for proper alignment; however, they are usually taken out or removed for eating, brushing the teeth and cleaning the appliance. Examples of this appliance are retainers, headgears and invisible braces called Invisalign. Invisalign are clear custom-fitted dental trays worn to align teeth. They are more comfortable because they do not irritate the gums like metals do. They are much preferred because they are aesthetically pleasing; however, they are a bit expensive than other orthodontic treatments.
Lastly, a functional appliance uses the muscle action created from the movement of jaws (as in speaking and chewing), to create the pressure needed in the alignment of teeth and jaws.
Your orthodontic treatment will depend on your dentist’s assessment, the type and severity of your malocclusion, the condition of your dental health and the cost you are willing to pay.