Orthodontics is the field of dentistry that involves straightening teeth and correcting bite issues. Orthodontics typically involve braces (clear, metal) or clear aligners to straighten the teeth over a time period dependent on the severity of the case. All types will typically achieve the same result but differ in treatment time, cost, comfort and aesthetics.
Traditionally, children are not assessed for orthodontic needs until after all their deciduous teeth have fallen out. This is normally around the age of 12. Teeth grow into the available space so if there is overcrowding, often this is due to an underdeveloped jaw. It is important to recognise this early and align the jaws correctly to ensure optimum growth, in order to give the permanent teeth the best chance to erupt into their correct positions. Dentofacial orthopaedics typically involve growth guidance and jaw expansion appliances to develop the growing jaw into the optimum size and shape. In some cases, myofunctional exercises are required to correct bad habits associated with swallowing and tongue positioning issues. By maximising the genetic potential of the jaws, this will have a positive effect on teeth position, posture, speech, swallowing, tongue position, sleep and facial aesthetics. It is now recommended to have an orthopaedic consultation at the age of 7 to diagnose any possible developmental issues and provide the necessary treatment.