Advances in Orthodontics


Orthodontics is a dentistry specialty that addresses the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of mal-positioned teeth and jaws, and misaligned bite patterns. It may also address the modification of facial growth, known as dentofacial orthopedics.

Abnormal alignment of the teeth and jaws is very common. Nearly 50% of the developed world's population, according to the American Association of Orthodontics, has malocclusions severe enough to benefit from orthodontic treatment although this figure decreases to less than 10% according to the same AAO statement when referring to medically necessary orthodontics. Conclusive scientific evidence for the health benefits of orthodontic treatment, however, is lacking, although patients with completed orthodontic treatment have reported a higher quality of life than that of untreated patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. Treatment may require several months to a few years, and entails using dental braces and other appliances to gradually adjust tooth position and jaw alignment. In cases where the malocclusion is severe, jaw surgery may be incorporated in the treatment plan. Treatment usually begins before a person reaches adulthood, insofar as pre-adult bones may be adjusted more easily before adulthood.

A typical treatment for incorrectly positioned teeth (malocclusion) takes from one to three years, with braces being adjusted every four to 10 weeks by specialists called orthodontists, university-trained dental specialists versed in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists offer a wide range of treatment options to straighten crooked teeth, fix irregular bites and align the jaws correctly. There are many ways to adjust malocclusion. In growing patients there are more options to treat skeletal discrepancies, either by promoting or restricting growth using functional appliances, orthodontic headgear or a reverse pull facemask. Most orthodontic work begins in the early permanent dentition stage before skeletal growth is completed. If skeletal growth has completed, jaw surgery is an option. Sometimes teeth are extracted to aid the orthodontic treatment (teeth are extracted in about half of all the cases, most commonly the premolars). Orthodontic therapy may include using fixed or removable appliances. Most orthodontic therapy is delivered using appliances that are fixed in place, for example, with braces that are adhesively bonded to the teeth. Fixed appliances may provide greater mechanical control of the teeth; optimal treatment outcome is improved by using fixed appliances.

Fixed appliances may be used, for example, to rotate teeth if that do not fit the arch shape of the other teeth in the mouth, to adjust multiple teeth to different places, to change tooth angle of teeth, or to change the position of a tooth's root. This treatment course is not preferred where a patient has poor oral hygiene, (as decalcification, tooth decay or other complications may result. If a patient is unmotivated (insofar as treatment takes several months and requires commitment to oral hygiene), or if malocclusions are mild Biology of tooth movement and how advances in gene therapy and molecular biology technology may shape the future of orthodontic treatment is an interesting area

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Sarah eve

Editorial Assistant

Journal of Oral Hygiene and Health