1. What are main causes of occlusion defects?
There are numerous causes for the occlusion defects mentioned. Acquired occlusion defects, being the most common, develop within the first years of life of a child. Factors leading to abnormal position of the teeth include the application of inappropriate dummies and teats, breathing through the mouth (instead of the nose), sucking of the thumb or lip and premature loss of a milk tooth/teeth due to injury and, first of all, dental caries. The loss of milk teeth before the time of their natural replacement leads to inhibition in the growth of the jaw, and then irregular position of the permanent teeth due to lack of sufficient space.
2. How and when should I prevent occlusion defects?
Prevention of occlusion defects should be implemented from the first days of the child’s life of the child. You should pay attention to:
- the timing and method of feeding of the baby (bottle or breast-fed);
- the application of appropriate dummies and teats;
- the early introduction of feeding using a teaspoon;
- making the baby accustomed to biting and chewing solid food.
Extremely important, but a difficult and patience-consuming task is to prevent the development of bad habits or getting rid of them (e.g. sucking a thumb or lip, biting pencils, etc.). Due to the significant importance of dental caries in the development of occlusion defects, the milk teeth should be thoroughly cared for from the time of their eruption to natural loss.
3. When should I come with my child to the orthodontist?
There are various circumstances, which should encourage the parent or guardian to take the child to the orthodontist. The most important of them include:
- premature loss of the milk teeth;
- habit of sucking a thumb or dummy in a child over 3 years;
- reluctance of a child over 3 years to bite and chew solid food;
- worrying changes in the appearance of the child’s face (e.g. face asymmetry, apparently retracted or protruding chin);
- reverse tooth overlapping, i.e. a lower tooth overlaps the upper one.
4. Why is the treatment of children so important?
Orthodontic treatment of children in necessary, as occlusion defects do not reverse spontaneously, but become worse with the child’s growth. Also, the fact that crooked teeth may be the cause of complexes in children from their earliest years, and may pose more difficulties in cleaning (increased susceptibility to dental caries and gum diseases), and that abnormal occlusion may promote speech disorders, is also of importance. The orthodontic treatment of children brings results faster than in adults, and commonly allows the removal of permanent teeth to be avoided and prevents complications of occlusion defects, if started at appropriate time.
5. Is there any age limit for orthodontic treatment?
Age provides no limit for orthodontic treatment. The treatment may be commenced at any age, with the appropriate method selected. However, the prerequisite is the presence of bone tissue in sufficient amount and quality, the lack of acute periodontal inflammation, healthy teeth, and the lack of dental deposit and tartar.
6. When should an adult visit the orthodontist?
Adult patients commonly decide to start orthodontic treatment for aesthetic reasons. This is an important reason indeed, but there are also others:
- attrition of the teeth;
- headache in the forehead, pain in the ears and neck of unknown origin;
- elongation of the crowns of the teeth;
- elongation of the crowns of the teeth;
- crowded teeth (in particular when wisdom teeth are coming through);
- loosening of individual or a group of teeth;
- appearance of rapid ageing of the face around the angles of the mouth.
7. What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment in adults?
Successful orthodontic treatment in adult patients provides:
- an improvement in appearance and the well-being of the patient, and thus more self-confidence;
- easier tooth cleaning, which reduces susceptibility to dental caries, tartar build-up and periodontosis;
- improvement of chewing quality, which has a direct effect on the performance of the alimentary tract;
- delayed ageing of the face;
- elimination of disorders of the temporomandibular joints and related headache;
- an easy, full smile.
8. How should I prepare myself for orthodontic treatment?
Before the commencement of orthodontic treatment, in particular involving permanent appliances, all the teeth have to be healthy, free of dental deposit and tartar, and the gums have to be free of inflammatory symptoms (softening, redness, bleeding, pain).
9. Is orthodontic treatment painful?
If the treatment involves the use of a permanent appliance, just after its application and a few days after (on the second or third day) a feeling of discomfort or even soreness may occur, in particular during biting solid food. However, such symptoms should subside within a week, and the patient should become accustomed do the appliance within a few days. A similar feeling, but less intensive, may occur after the activation of a removable appliance. Protruding elements of the device may irritate the mucous membrane of cheeks and lips, but there is an excellent remedy for the problem, a special wax that adheres to the appliance and allows the mucous membrane to become accustomed quickly to new conditions.
10. Should I change my oral hygiene practices when wearing a permanent appliance?
If you wear a removable appliance, you may apply your normal method of cleaning your teeth. The other problem is to keep the appliance itself clean; it should be cleaned with a separate toothbrush or special brush for prosthetic appliances and toothpaste or liquid soap. On the other hand, cleaning the teeth with a permanent appliance requires more accuracy, more time and additional accessories (interdental toothbrush, special dental floss, dental irrigator). It is recommended that professional tooth cleaning and fluoridation in the surgery be undergone every several months.
11. Can permanent appliances do damage to teeth?
Permanent appliances do not damage the teeth! Only the failure to observe regular principles of hygiene by the patient may, under the new condition, lead to the demineralisation of enamel and development of caries.
12. Does wearing a permanent appliance require a dietary modification?
In the initial period, just after the application of a permanent appliance, it is recommended to eat only soft meals, due to the hypersensitivity of the teeth to biting. During the whole treatment period you should avoid very hard or sticky food (in particular nuts, chewing gum or toffee-like sweets and candies). Such food may hinder tooth cleaning or damage the appliance, which prolongs and complicates the treatment. The selection of aesthetic brackets requires avoiding large amounts of coffee, tea, red wine, certain fruit juices (e.g. blackcurrant one) and meals (e.g. curry), and smoking, as these products promote the build-up of deposit which is difficult to remove.
13. Is it necessary to apply permanent appliances to both dental arches?
The final decision needs to be taken by the orthodontist who, having considered the examination results, the type of occlusion defect and the patient’s opinion, determines whether appliances on both arches are necessary for the satisfactory results of the treatment.
14. Are there any invisible appliances?
There are no completely invisible permanent appliances among the conventional ones currently available. However, there are aesthetic appliances available with brackets matched to the tooth colour (ceramic) or completely transparent (of pure monocrystalline sapphire), as well as arches matched to the tooth colour. In some patients the lingual technique may be applied, in which the brackets are fixed to the internal surfaces of the teeth.
15. What does the effect of orthodontic treatment depend on?
The following factors influence the effect of the treatment:
- type of the occlusion defect;
- age of the patient;
- type of the appliance used;
- level of oral hygiene;
- regular attendance at scheduled check-ups.
16. Is there a risk that the teeth will want to return to their old, wrong positionsafter the completion of orthodontic treatment?
Such risk does exist when the patient does not attend appointments during the so-called retention phase of treatment, which consists in monitoring permanent retention appliances attached to the lingual surface of the upper and lower front teeth, as well as removable appliances, worn in accordance with the dentist’s recommendations.