If you’ve decided it’s time for braces or Invisalign, your next step is choosing where you will go for treatment. Many general dentists are offering orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign. They offer “one-stop shopping” for their existing dental patients. Makes everything easier and more convenient, right? Consider this…orthodontists not only complete the four years of dental school, but 2-3 more years to specialize in orthodontics. They have made the choice to do orthodontics and ONLY orthodontics. An orthodontist doesn’t do just a few cases here and there, every minute of their practice is devoted to resolving orthodontic issues. Whether you choose braces, bite appliances, or Invisalign, you are best left in the hands of an expert. Think of it like this, if you had to have heart surgery and your general practitioner said he could do it, would you let him/her do it or go to a heart specialist? Your orthodontist has years of experience looking at numerous kinds of cases and patients and will see best how to treat them.
What is an impacted tooth? It’s a tooth that is “stuck” in the gums and will not erupt on its own. The most likely teeth to be impacted are the “wisdom” teeth, but other teeth can be impacted, as well. In instances where the wisdom teeth are impacted, many times they can be left alone if not causing any discomfort or infection. When a tooth other than a wisdom tooth is impacted however, it is usually necessary to either extract it or “expose” the tooth and bring it slowly into its proper position. Leaving these other teeth alone can likely cause infection, contribute to poor dental hygiene, or compromise supporting bone structure. More on this website
In the past, many dentists would simply extract the tooth. This would result in a gap where the tooth would have been, becoming a trap for food and plaque, not to mention create bone loss. A dental implant or bridge would be necessary to optimize the functionality of the bite and oral health. If the tooth and the root are healthy, an oral surgeon can uncover the tooth by creating a flap in the gum tissue and bond a bracket and chain or special spring to the surface of the unerupted tooth. The chain or spring then leads out through the gum tissue. Your orthodontist can then use the chain to gently pull the impacted tooth through the gum tissue and into its proper position. This option helps maintain all the patient’s teeth and bone! As the tooth comes through the gum tissue, orthodontic brackets help guide the tooth into the ideal position in the arch along with the other teeth.
So…you just got back from your first orthodontic exam…what were they saying?? Overbite? Underbite? Deep bite? Huh? Let’s help clear that up!
Ideally, a perfect bite where all the teeth fit together like a neat puzzle would be what is considered a Class I bite or occlusion. The upper first molars (also called 6yr molars and are the molars furthest forward) should sit slightly outside of the lower first molars with the first half of the top tooth cradled in the middle of the lower one. They fit together a lot like legos! When the teeth vary from this position, orthodontics can help!
Class II occlusion means that those upper first molars fit in front of those lower first molars, causing what is called over-jet. This can result in a “buck-toothed” appearance or having a “weak” chin. People might say this is an “overbite”, but an “overbite” or “deep bite” is when the top front teeth hang way over the bottom teeth. They should overlap slightly, but when they cover too much of the bottom front teeth, it can throw the jaw off and cause problems.
A Class III bite is when the upper first molars fit together with the lower second molars—too far back. This brings the lower jaw to sit in front of the upper teeth, creating an “underbite”. This is a particularly difficult bite to battle because the top teeth trap the lower teeth and can’t allow the jaw to move back where it belongs.
Any variance from that Class I ideal bite can cause uneven wearing on the teeth, TMJ disorder, inability to chew properly on both sides of the mouth, gum disease, and impaired speech. Orthodontics is more than just straight teeth!