Your teeth have several essential functions in your mouth. In addition to biting, chewing, and speaking, your teeth play a crucial role in the quality of your smile. Your teeth also play a role in the health of your jawbone. If your teeth are crooked, all of these functions can be significantly affected. Crooked teeth increase your risk of cavities, gum disease, and tooth damage. They can lead to severe jaw pain, called TMJ disorder. They also have a major impact on the appearance of your smile. At Metropolitan Dental Specialty Group, we can provide you with the orthodontic treatment you need to correct the alignment of your teeth and jaws, greatly improving your overall quality of life.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in improving the alignment of your teeth and jaws to improve your oral health, the functions of your mouth, and the quality of your smile. Like all other dentists, orthodontists attend four years of dental school. After these four years, we go on to complete an additional 2 to 3 years of formal education and hands-on training, ensuring that we became knowledgeable and experienced with the latest tools and technologies for restoring the alignment of your teeth and enhancing your smile.
Providing Treatment for Children, Teens, and Adults
When you think about orthodontics, you most likely think of young teens wearing metal braces. While braces are commonly used in the early teen years, orthodontics can benefit just about anyone of any age.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child has their first orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. At this age, the adult teeth are beginning to erupt. During an orthodontic evaluation, we look over the mouth and take X-rays. The evaluation is designed to determine the presence or to predict the likelihood, of orthodontic issues.
With potential issues found, we can create an effective treatment plan that can provide your child with the best possible outcome. The earliest treatments may include guiding the growth of the jaw or helping to ensure there is enough space for all of the adult teeth to emerge. In some cases, early orthodontic treatment can reduce, or even eliminate, the need for later orthodontic work.
Braces are a common treatment for children in their adolescent to early teen years, after the last of the adult teeth have erupted through the gums. This age is considered an ideal time for orthodontic treatment because the jaw is still developing, making it easier to correct the alignment of the teeth. Older teens and even adults can benefit from treatment with braces as well. Older patients may be self-conscious about the idea of wearing metal braces though. Today, we can provide clear aligners in many situations, which provide a more discreet way to correct tooth alignment. Essentially, if the alignment of your teeth is impacting your smile and your quality of life, orthodontic treatment may be the right solution for you.
How Orthodontic Treatment Works
Traditional braces are one of the most common, most effective ways to correct tooth and jaw alignment. This treatment uses metal braces and wires to achieve these goals. Metal brackets are bonded to the front surfaces of your teeth and a wire spans across the arch of your teeth, affixed to each bracket with an elastic O-ring or ligature. The wire works to put pressure on your teeth, widening the ligaments so that your teeth can be moved. The wire then helps to stabilize your teeth while the ligaments and bone heal around them. In addition to metal braces, there are clear braces and lingual braces that work similarly.
Clear aligners are another popular treatment for correcting tooth alignment. This treatment uses a series of aligners, made from digital impressions of your mouth, to gently move, and then stabilize, your teeth. The aligners, which are removable, cover over your teeth much like a mouth guard and practically disappear from view.
How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Take?
The exact length of time orthodontic treatment takes varies from patient to patient and is mainly based on your specific situation and which treatment you choose. For instance, clear aligners generally take less time than traditional braces. Also, more significant alignment issues will require longer treatment. On average, most orthodontic treatment takes anywhere from 1 to 3 years to complete.
If the alignment of your teeth is affecting your smile and your oral health, orthodontic treatment can help. Call Metropolitan Dental Specialty Group at (301) 585-0400 today to schedule your consultation.