Orthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on the development, prevention and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite and jaws. Orthodontic treatment once was used only for pre-teens and teens with malocclusion. Modern advancements in orthodontic technology have resulted in alignment options that are more aesthetically pleasing, which has opened the door for more adults to seek orthodontic treatment. In fact, one out of five orthodontic patients today is an adult.
Despite the growing trend toward adult orthodontics, orthodontists still recommend starting orthodontic treatment early for maximum effectiveness, according to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry. The American Dental Association recommends that children receive an orthodontic evaluation by age seven.
Orthodontic procedures can be cosmetic, such as correcting minor misalignment, or they can serve a functional purpose, such as correcting bite problems. Types of orthodontic procedures include titanium implants that can be anchored in the bone on the side of the mouth and palate to aide in shifting front teeth back and allowing for more space if necessary. The molars of a patient who wears braces may have magnets attached to them to help lift and reposition underlying molars.
Another common orthodontic treatment is a removable appliance such as a retainer or a series of clear aligners such as Invisalign (hyperlink to http://www.dentistry-articles.com/_cosmetic-dentistry/orthodontics/index.html) products. Those who need only minor adjustments can consider these “invisible” braces, which consist of custom-fitted aligners that are clear, thin and flexible.
Less common orthodontic treatments could include expansion appliances and elastic bands.
The most common orthodontic treatment is dental braces. They are used in orthodontics to align teeth and position them with regard to a person’s bite. They are often used to correct malocclusions such as underbites, overbites, cross bites and open bites, or crooked teeth and various other flaws of teeth and jaws, whether cosmetic or structural, according to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry.
Although traditional “train track” metal braces still are used, advancements have been made to create clear and tooth-colored braces for aesthetic appeal.
The cost of orthodontic treatment varies depending on the type of treatment selected and where treatment is sought. Typically, costs range between $1,000 and $6,000. Functional orthodontics costs are usually partially covered by insurance. Dental insurance generally does not cover the cost of cosmetic orthodontics. However, most orthodontists have payment plans for treatment.
Locating an Orthodontist
Orthodontists are specialists. Therefore, orthodontic treatment may not be available in every dental office. You can find a reputable orthodontist by asking friends and family members, referring to a professional association of orthodontists online or asking your regular dentist for a referral. Orthodontics is a large specialty, so it should be fairly easy to find an orthodontist where you live.