Dr Lekha Menon is a general Dentist who has been involved with orthodontics for a few years and has accreditation for Invisalig(clear/invisible) braces treatment. She is a member of the IAO ( International Association of Orthodontics)
What Is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is treatment aimed at correcting problems with the position and alignment of the jaws and teeth.
When Is The Best Time To Start Orthodontic Treatment?
Orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, but the best outcomes are achieved if we treat growing children and help to guide the growth of the face to prevent more complex orthodontic problems from developing.
There is more to orthodontic treatment than just straight teeth. Dento-facial orthopaedics, functional jaw orthopaedics, face-centred orthodontics, and growth guidance orthodontics are all terms used to describe treatment that does more than just straighten teeth. We want to look good, even when we’re not grinning and showing our teeth, so correct facial development is very important. Changing the size, shape and position of the jaws is possible with modern techniques.
What Types Of Orthodontic Treatment Do We Provide?
Our treatments can range from simple removable appliances or “plates” to modern fixed braces, either clear or metal, and we are now able to offer treatment with clear aligner systems such as Invisalign.
We provide orthodontic treatment for young adults & for growing children (interceptive) with appliances removable or fixed such as the Growth Guidance appliance and use of controlled arch braces.
Braces can be metal or clear (ceramic) depending on the case.
Treatment times can vary from a few months to several years, depending on the severity of the problem and the age of the patient.
What Is The Advantage Of Early Treatment For Growing Children?
Early intervention can reduce the need for braces treatment, extraction of permanent teeth is kept to a minimum, and best of all, your child will end up with a better looking and more stable orthodontic result.
Orthodontic assessment should be considered at age 7-8, or earlier if there is an obvious problem. During your child’s routine check-up we can assess the dental and facial development, and look for causes of adverse facial growth.
For normal facial growth to occur in a child we need to have:-
1. Nasal breathing all the time except during strenuous exercise.
2. Lips together most of the time.
3. Correct tongue position.
4. No adverse habits such as thumb or finger sucking.
What Are The Causes Of Orthodontic Problems?
To understand why early treatment is so essential, we need to look at the causes of orthodontic problems. Many of these problems result from failure, or deviation of normal growth patterns. These growth problems are not just affecting the teeth – they are affecting the whole face. Dental and facial growth are all part of the same process, as our face develops around our most important facial function – breathing! We are all born to breathe through the nose, but if the nose is blocked, we have a second option – breathing through the mouth. While this second option keeps us alive, if it becomes the dominant mode of breathing, especially during the growing years, it can have disastrous effects on the development of the face.
What Medical Conditions Tend To Be Related To Orthodontic Problems In Children?
The most common problem is upper airway blockage (naso-pharyngeal incompetence). This could be from allergies, chronically enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids, or other problems in the nasal cavity that restrict the airflow, and often needs to be assessed by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist.
When a growing child does not breathe through the nose, but through the mouth, the growth pattern changes and the child develops some or all of the following:- forward head posture, long narrow face, sunken cheeks, dark rings under the eyes, receding chin, open mouth posture. The ear nose and throat specialists have recognised this for years – the medical term “adenoidal facies” is found in medical text books. Inside the mouth the result of this growth problem is crowded and misaligned teeth, a mismatched bite relationship, narrow palate, gum problems and a higher risk of decay due to the mouth breathing.
How Do We Treat The Causes Of Orthodontic Problems?
When the causative factors in the orthodontic problem have been established, a plan can be formulated to help correct them. This may involve Specialist treatment to correct the nasal obstruction, such as having tonsils/adenoids removed, or treatments to help with the allergies. Simple functional orthodontic appliances can then be used to correct habits and encourage healthy nasal breathing patterns, or treatment may involve growth guidance or expansion appliances in the mouth to develop the jaws to their correct dimension. Correct development of the upper jaw is critical, as the upper jaw bone is the same bone that contains all the nasal passages. If the upper jaw is constricted and underdeveloped, then the nasal passages are constricted and underdeveloped.
So it makes sense to assess the growing face and not just the teeth. We must return normal growth to the face by eliminating the causes of the problem as soon as we can, as the longer these problems are left untreated, the further the growth continues in an unwanted way, and the more difficult and complex the resulting tangle of teeth becomes to unravel.
Why wait until all the permanent teeth have erupted in the wrong places and the face has developed all out of shape?
Do You Provide Treatments Which Straighten The Teeth Of Adults?
Yes, it is never too late to have straight teeth. Orthodontic treatment in adults can be done in exactly the same way as in children, and it is possible to develop and change the position of the jaws in adults, but many adult patients are unwilling to commit to lengthy treatments with fixed braces.
With this in mind, the dentists at Your Healthy Smile can provide adults with orthodontics, or Invisalign which are systems using a sequence of clear aligner appliances. Some pre-treatment may be required, but this can be done with appliances hidden on the inside of the teeth.