You may know that an orthodontist is who you would see to get braces, but did you know that they can treat more than just crooked teeth? According to the American Dental Association, orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that “includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception, and correction of malocclusion.” Malocclusion simply means that the teeth are not aligned properly.
Common conditions treated by orthodontists
In a normal bite, the upper teeth sit slightly outside the lower teeth in the front, back, and both sides of the mouth. Unfortunately, many bites do not align that way. The following are some of the most common conditions treated by orthodontists.
1. Cross Bite
A cross bite is when a person bites together and some of the upper teeth are sitting inside the lower teeth. A cross bite can cause teeth grinding, jaw problems, and abnormal wear on the teeth, particularly at the back of the mouth.
Crowding is when there is a lack of space for all of the teeth to fit normally within the jaws. This can lead to teeth that turn sideways, grow partially on top of one another, or grow at abnormal angles. Crowding is typically treated by the removal of teeth or widening the palate along the roof of the mouth.
3. Open Bite
An open bite is when there is a vertical gap between the front upper and lower teeth. The back teeth will be touching, but the front teeth are not able to come together. This is usually caused by thumb sucking or resting the tongue against the front of the teeth, but can also be a result of genetics. Open bites can lead to chronic jaw pain and difficulties with speech.
An overbite is when the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth. It is very common to have a slight overbite of one or two millimeters, but more than that can start to cause problems such as jaw pain, headaches, or speech difficulties.
Gaps in the teeth, or spacing, is the opposite of crowding and occurs when there is too much space in the jaw. This can be caused by missing teeth, teeth that are unusually small, or abnormal gum tissue and can lead to issues such as gum disease.
An underbite is when the lower teeth are in front of the upper teeth and usually includes the lower jaw protruding forward. This can lead to several issues such as speech complications and difficulty biting or chewing food.
The bottom line
While these are six of the most common conditions, orthodontists can treat a wide variety of issues pertaining to your teeth and jaws. Orthodontists have a huge arsenal of treatments available to help with these conditions, ranging from simple, minimally invasive treatments such as clear retainers, like Invisalign, to complex treatments such as headgear or other metal appliances. Our friendly team can help determine the right treatment for you and help you on your path to a beautiful, healthy smile!
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