Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities (malocclusions).
Dentofacial orthopedics is the process of normalizing the growth of a patient’s bone structure and repairing any imbalances of the face and jaws. This process often involves a two-phase treatment and often begins when the patient is around 6 to 8 years old.
Because Dr. Tamara Shamlian is skilled in both areas, she is able to diagnose any misalignments in the teeth and jaws as well as the facial structure, and can devise a treatment plan that integrates both orthodontic and dentofacial orthopedic treatments.
Orthodontic treatment is provided by an oral health care provider known as an 0rthodontist, who has completed two to three years of additional training beyond dental school. The increasing awareness on the health and look of a patient’s smile has fueled the desire for many to seek out orthodontics not only as a medical necessity, but for cosmetic reasons as well.
The goal of orthodontics is to correct a malocclusion. Teeth may be crowded or crooked or the upper and lower jaws may be out of alignment. Occasionally, even when teeth appear straight, the patient may have a bite which is not even and which may be causing further dental problems and permanent damage. Malocclusions can be genetic in origin, they can develop over time or may be caused by poor habits such as thumb sucking, pen-biting or poor tongue posture. Orthodontic treatment seeks to address any or all of these problems. The goal of orthodontic treatment is to not only create a beautiful smile, but to develop a stable bite that can promote sound oral health.
Orthodontics utilizes gentle forces (and the laws of physics) to slowly move teeth into the proper position. This is performed by using corrective appliances, including braces aligners and retainers. Brackets are bonded onto the teeth and arch wires are tied into these brackets. The tension and tightness of these wires determines the individual movement of each tooth. By making adjustment to your appliances at follow up visits, Dr. Shamlian controls the movement of your teeth until the malocclusion is corrected. Once the desired result is achieved and appliances are removed, retainers are worn to help maintain the final position of the teeth and bite.
People of all ages can wear braces.
Today, many adults are choosing to fix orthodontic problems that were not corrected as children or have arisen later in life. Over 20% of all patients receiving orthodontic care are adults. Because their jaws are no longer growing, surgery may be recommended in some instances. Moreover, adult patients may require periodontal treatment in conjunction with orthodontics if there is evidence of breakdown of the bone and gums supporting the teeth. If there is bone loss, there may be limitations to the extent and direction that the teeth can be moved by the orthodontist.
Braces and Children
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist by age 7 for an examination. If treatment is necessary, the orthodontist will determine the best time to begin. By age 7, incisors and the first permanent molars are typically present, and issues such as crowding, crossbites, and jaw alignment can be evaluated.
Treatment that is begun early can help to guide the jaws and teeth as they grow. Orthodontic treatment in childhood can also help coordinate the width of the dental arches, maintain necessary space for incoming permanent teeth, and reduce the chance of permanent tooth impactions and permanent tooth extractions. Early treatment can also correct protruding teeth caused by thumb sucking, as well as speech problems, and swallowing abnormalities and habits. In short, early orthodontic treatment can sidestep future potential problems.