First impressions matter, as we are taught from an early age, and with your smile being one of the first things people notice about you, what lurks behind that smile is super important for a myriad of reasons - and not just because better teeth make for better selfies. Dealing with all manner of toothy trauma is the business of orthodontics, the branch of dentistry that corrects improperly positioned teeth and jaws, problems that can not only have a detrimental effect on your teeth, but also your neck, shoulders and back if left untreated. But what treatments are available for some of the most common tooth complaints? We reveal all…
The Problem: Overbite or Underbite
The Solution: An overbite is often referred to as ‘buck teeth’, whereby the upper front teeth stick out beyond those of the lower, while an underbite can result in a ‘bulldog’ appearance, with the lower teeth much further back than the uppers. Braces are usually used to treat these two issues, which, if left untreated, can lead to the development of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). “Whenever we see kids with protruded teeth we always suspect a bad habit involved, like sucking the thumb or the lower lip,” says Dr Salam Alkhayyat Orthodontist Specialist at Drs. Nicolas & Asp Centers. “Buck teeth are most likely prone to fracture and trauma upon injuries as they are flared. So the first thing we do is retract them and put them in the safe zone within the mouth. However, the treatment plan also involves stopping the habit to avoid a similar issue in the future.”
The Problem: Gaps and Spacing
The Solution: Gaps can occur either as a result of missing teeth, or teeth that are spaced so as not to ‘fill’ the mouth. There are an array of treatment options for anyone with spacing between their teeth, including composite bonding, porcelain veneers or crowns. In the case of gaps caused by missing teeth, patients can choose between dental implants or bridgework.
The Problem: Crowding and Uneven Teeth
The Solution: Crowding in the mouth occurs when there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to be able to accommodate, which can lead to uneven teeth. “Fixed braces can perform larger scales of tooth movement with both tipping and root movements to achieve the best outcome,” explains Dr Yahya Tosun, Orthodontist at the British Dental Clinic. “Removable braces are limited, but they can be used in many cases for minor to moderate crowding.” While Dr Irina Bratu, General Dentist at SameDay Dental Clinic, adds, “The most common dental problem that we face in our daily practice is crowding and misalignment. Teeth crowding results in crooked teeth that makes brushing and flossing more difficult. It is strongly advised to see and orthodontist and start the treatment at a young age.”
The Problem: Misplaced Midline
The Solution: This occurs when the centre of your front upper teeth don’t align with the centre of your lower ones, and it is an issue that used to affect one of the most famous smiles in the world - Tom Cruise’s! It can be cause by the early loss of a tooth which freed up space for other teeth to shift, and if left untreated, can lead to jaw problems. One way to correct a misplaced midline is by using a modified Hyrax expander, which expands the roof of the mouth and holds it in place allowing teeth and bones to adapt.
The Problem: Open Bite
The Solution: Those affected by this will experience spaces between their front or side teeth when the back teeth are bitten together, and can be caused by thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Braces, as well as Clear Aligners with elastics can be used to correct this issue. Alternatively, your orthodontist may suggest a high pull headgear or a roller appliance to prevent tongue thrusting. As a final option, corrective surgery may be suggested.