What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the area of dentistry which handles the treatment of problems in the alignment of teeth and jaws. An attractive smile can increase self confidence; with regular dental checkups and care, your smile will last you a lifetime. An orthodontic problem is called a "malocclusion", meaning crooked or protruding teeth, which do not fit together properly.
Common Orthodontic Problems
Class II problems represent an abnormal bite relationship in which the upper jaw and teeth are located in front of the lower jaw and teeth. Class II patients usually exhibit a convex facial profile with a recessed chin. In most cases, this relationship is due to inherited characteristics.
A skeletal Class II problem occurs when the upper back molars are forward of the lower back molars. This gives the patient the appearance of having a recessed lower jaw, a protruding upper jaw, or both.
Class III problems are also primarily genetic in origin. In this instance, the lower jaw and teeth are positioned in front of the upper jaw and teeth. The lower jaw may appear to be excessively large, but in many cases the lack of upper jaw development is at fault. Several treatment options are available to correct a Class III problem.
A posterior crossbite will usually result from a narrow upper jaw or abnormally wide lower jaw. A narrow upper jaw will often force a patient to move the lower jaw forward or to the side when closing into a stable bite. When closed into this accommodating position, the lower teeth are located outside the upper teeth.
A posterior crossbite can involve one side of the jaw, known as a unilateral crossbite, or both sides of the jaw, known as a bilateral crossbite.
Crowding of the teeth is probably the most common orthodontic problem. Although many factors contribute to dental crowding, this problem typically stems from a discrepancy between the space in each jaw and the size of the teeth.
Crowding is often one of several orthodontic problems. Crowding can be the cause or result of other problems, such as impacted teeth, retained teeth or teeth that do not naturally fall out. Crossbite of the front or rear teeth can also cause the teeth to become crowded.
Excessive Gingival Display
Also known as a gummy smile, this orthodontic problem gives the appearance of excessive exposed gums on the upper arch. There are several treatment options for this problem. In severe cases surgery may be necessary to actually remove a section of the upper jaw shifting the jaw upward vertically reducing the amount of exposure of the upper gum tissue.
Also known as an overbite, a deep bite is excessive vertical overlapping of the front teeth and is generally found in association with a discrepancy between the length of the upper and lower jaws. It usually results in excessive eruption of the upper or lower incisors, or both.
An open bite can occur with the front teeth, known as an anterior open bite or with the back teeth, referred to as a posterior open bite. An anterior open bite is the lack of vertical overlap of the front teeth and can usually be traced to jaw disharmony or habits such as thumb sucking or the thrusting of the tongue against the front teeth. A posterior open bite is a problem in which the back teeth do not meet vertically, which keeps the jaw from functioning properly.
Pseudo Class III
Pseudo Class III, particularly in younger patients, is a function of habit rather than hereditary factors. A misaligned bite may cause the lower teeth to bite forward of the upper teeth, giving the appearance of a Class III. Interceptive treatment is imperative to prevent abnormal growth of both the upper and lower jaws.
Spaces between teeth are another common problem associated with the need for orthodontic care. Like crowding, spacing may be related to a tooth-to-jaw size disharmony. Spacing may occur between the front and the back teeth. Tooth size discrepancies, such as smaller teeth or abnormally shaped teeth, can also create abnormal spacing.