Specialties exist across a broad spectrum, from bakers who only make cupcakes to cardiologists who focus solely on the heart. Teeth are no exception! Though you may have heard the term orthodontics before, you may be unsure what it is actually all about, or what an orthodontist really does. Here at Ollins Orthodontics, we are committed to keeping our patients well-informed — when you know what orthodontic care entails, you can be a more active participant in your own! We have put together this guide to help you understand exactly what orthodontics is, what our orthodontists do, and the many ways it can benefit you and your smile.
The basics behind orthodontics
If you imagine general dentistry as an umbrella, orthodontics is a dental specialty that falls underneath it. Orthodontists focus on correcting teeth and jaws that are improperly positioned, but before they are able to provide this kind of treatment, they have to learn a lot about orthodontic care. After completing both college and dental school, they will then go on to study for two or more years in an ADA-approved orthodontic training program. By the time they begin taking on orthodontic patients, they have in-depth knowledge of the way teeth and jaws develop, and how best to correct any issues with that development.
Cosmetic issues are not the only thing orthodontics can address. There are actually many dental problems orthodontic treatment can correct, and these will often lead to better oral health overall. A perfect example of this is crooked teeth. While they may detract from your appearance, the more important issue is how hard it can be to keep your teeth and gums clean and free from bacteria due to their positioning. This increases your risk for problems like tooth decay and periodontal disease. The misalignment can also cause extra stress on the chewing muscles, leading to headaches, TMJ syndrome, or neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Is orthodontic treatment an option for you?
Ollins Orthodontics is proud to offer complimentary consultations, during which one of our experienced orthodontists will use a variety of different diagnostic tools to determine if orthodontic treatment could be beneficial to you. These tools include:
- a full medical and dental health history
- a clinical exam
- special X-rays and photographs
After reviewing these items, we will will discuss with you which, if any, orthodontic treatment would be right for you. From there, a customized treatment plan can be developed based on your specific dental needs and goals.
There are many common dental issues that benefit from orthodontics. If you have any of the following problems, you may be a good candidate for orthodontic treatment, and should contact our Nutley, NJ office to schedule a complimentary exam.
- Overbite — the upper front teeth lie too far forward and stick out over the lower teeth.
- Underbite — a “bulldog” appearance, where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth are too far back.
- Crossbite — in normal bites, the upper teeth will be out over the top of the lower teeth when biting down normally. With a crossbite, this does not happen. There are a few different types of crossbites, depending on where the upper teeth fall in relation to the lower ones.
- Open bite — there is a space between the biting surfaces of the front or side teeth when the back teeth bite together.
- Misplaced midline — the center of the upper front teeth does not line up with the center of the lower front teeth.
- Spacing issues — there are gaps in between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that do not “fill up” the mouth.
- Crowding issues — there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate
There are several different types of appliances that can be used by orthodontists to help move the teeth into more desirable positions. These can be fixed or removable appliances, and can also retrain the muscles of the jaw, as well as affecting its growth. Orthodontic appliances generally work by placing gentle, continuous pressure on the teeth and jaws. Since every case is unique, your specific need and the severity of your problem will be the biggest deciding factor in which orthodontic approach is likely to be the most effective.
Braces: Braces have come a long way since in just the past few years. Gone for the most part of the bands (rings) around the teeth, separators, and color ties that act like a sponge which collect all the food. We utilize the latest P21 braces which we like to call the “Tesla of braces.” These braces do not require color ties which hold back and slow down treatment. In the P21 system, we use on average 4 wires on the top and the bottom. High tech arch wires are then passed through the brackets and through regular tightening of the arch wire, usually every 6 weeks, the tension on the teeth will begin to gradually move them into their new, improved position. This can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.
Fixed space maintainers: Life happens, and baby teeth are sometimes lost prematurely. In order to keep the remaining teeth from crowding the empty space, a customized space maintainer, or spacer, can be fitted to keep the space open until the permanent tooth erupts. These work by attaching a band to the tooth next to the empty space, with a wire extending to the tooth on the other side of the space.
Aligners: Clear aligners, like those that are part of the Invisalign system, are currently the most popular alternative to traditional braces for teens and adults. These aligners move teeth the same way fixed appliances do without any of the hassle and restrictions that can accompany metal wires and brackets. Virtually invisible and easy to remove, it is not hard to see why more and more orthodontists patients are choosing these for an effective but discreet orthodontic experience!
Palatal expander: This device widens the arch of the upper jaw using a plastic plate that fits over the roof of the mouth. Outward pressure is applied to the plate by screws, and this forces the joints in the bones of the palate to open lengthwise, widening the palatal area in the process.
Removable retainers: These are a pretty instantly recognizable removable appliance! Worn on the roof of the mouth after orthodontic treatment has been completed, these devices keep teeth straight by preventing them from shifting back to their previous position. In our office, patients receive both removable and fixed retainers. The fixed or cemented retainers are placed behind the lower front teeth and top front teeth. Since these retainers are cemented behind the teeth, they work 24/7/365 in addition to the removable retainers the patient will wear at night.
The best orthodontic experience in NJ with Ollins Orthodontics
Everyone deserves a healthy and beautiful smile they love. Investing in orthodontics can positively impact your life in many ways, from the obvious cosmetic benefits to improved overall health. Ollins Orthodontics puts the focus on the patient: you! Your comfort, concerns, and smile are important to us. Both of our orthodontists will take into careful consideration your lifestyle, hobbies, and treatment goals in order to create a care plan that is custom-made for you.
Our doctors have almost fifty years of combined experience, and our staff are all highly trained registered dental assistants (R.D.A.) We are able to offer the kind of orthodontic care that is been fine-tuned over decades to provide a safe, welcoming, and comfortable environment for your orthodontic journey. If you are in Nutley or the surrounding area, and would like to learn more about what we have to offer you, get in touch with our conveniently located Nutley, NJ orthodontic office to schedule a complimentary consultation with us. A straighter, healthier smile could be just around the corner!