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Your treatment may be expedited by taking an active and committed role in your treatment. Dr. Cox and his staff are dedicated to educating everyone involved to achieve the best orthodontic results as expeditiously as possible.

What Exactly is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry that is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of dental and associated facial irregularities. The results of orthodontic treatment can be dramatic – beautiful smiles, improved dental health and an enhanced quality of life for people of all ages. Orthodontic problems must be diagnosed before treatment begins. Proper diagnosis involves taking photographs, x-rays, and dental impressions: all of which enable the orthodontist to make essential treatment decisions. Treatment duration is largely dependent on the severity or complexity of the orthodontic problem. Your treatment may be expedited by taking an active and committed role in your treatment. Dr. Cox and his staff are dedicated to educating everyone involved to achieve the best orthodontic results as expeditiously as possible.

Treatment Timing

Dr. Cox and his staff provide orthodontic treatment for adults, adolescents and children. We follow the guidelines established by the American Association of Orthodontists by recommending an evaluation by an orthodontist at age 7 for all children. An assessment at this age can help to determine the best time to begin any necessary treatment. Interceptive or early treatment can result in significant benefits that may only be achieved at an early age.

Why do some kids have braces so young these days?

Most people tend to associate braces with adolescence, but orthodontists can identify subtle problems with jaw growth or with the teeth while the primary or “baby teeth” are present. Unfortunately, many well-meaning parents sometimes wait too long for their child’s first visit to the orthodontist, resulting in longer and more complex treatment. Braces at a young age can often eliminate the need for extractions as an adolescent.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child have an orthodontic screening no later than age seven. By this age, enough permanent teeth have erupted to effectively evaluate the bite and the growth of the jaws. Some common problems that can be managed through interceptive treatment include:

  • Early or late loss of teeth
  • Oral habits such as thumb-sucking
  • Crowding of the teeth
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Facial imbalances
  • “Underbites,” “overbites”, and crossbites
  • Very protrusive front teeth or “buck teeth”

How late is “too late” for orthodontic treatment?

It is never too late to obtain that smile you always wished you’d had. There is no age limit to braces: as long as your teeth and gums are healthy, it is safe for you to have your teeth straightened. As you know, esthetics and a youthful appearance are very important in our society, and more and more adults are getting braces these days. A bright smile with straight teeth can not only improve your self-image, research has proven that it actually affects how other see us. Oftentimes straightening crowded teeth in adults can provide a “facelift” effect. That is, straight teeth provide added lip support, and added lip support means more fullness around the mouth. It is this fullness that gives a decidedly more youthful appearance to a face.

From a dental perspective, braces can provide the following benefits:

  • Prevention or improvement of periodontal (gum) problems
  • Prevention or reduction in bone loss around teeth
  • Improvement in ability of dentist to restore missing teeth
  • Improvement in function of teeth
  • Overall oral health improvement

Common Problems

Occlusion is how your teeth come together when you close your jaw. Your Occlusion is influenced by three primary components: (1) teeth, (2) nerves and muscles, and (3) bones. Another factor, which can affect the way your teeth come together, is your posture.

The term Malocclusion is a general term that we use to describe a mismatch of tooth size, jaw size and the way that teeth fit together, one jaw with the other. We have identified some of the common problems. Your teeth may fit the the description of one or more.

The Classification of Teeth

The Ideal Occlusion

An ideal occlusion is that which shows a perfect smile line, there is no crowding, no overlap, no rotations or spacing of teeth. In a perfect world, there is a perfect pattern in the closure of 32 permanent teeth. This ideal occlusion rarely exists. A normal occlusion is one which shows some deviation from that of the ideal but is aesthetically acceptable and functionally stable for the individual.

Class 1 Occlusion

Class I is a normal relationship between the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws or balanced bite.

Class 2 Occlusion

Class II is where the lower first molar is posterior (or more towards the back of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the upper front teeth and jaw project further forward than the lower teeth and jaw. There is a convex appearance in profile with a receding chin and lower lip. Class II problems can be due to insufficient growth of the lower jaw, an over growth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. In many cases, Class II problems are genetically inherited and can be aggravated by environmental factors such as finger sucking. Class II problems are treated via growth redirection to bring the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws into harmony.

Class 3 Occlusion

Class III is where the lower first molar is anterior (or more towards the front of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the lower teeth and jaw project further forward than the upper teeth and jaws. There is a concave appearance in profile with a prominent chin. Class III problems are usually due to an overgrowth in the lower jaw, undergrowth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. Like Class II problems, they can be genetically inherited.

Other Problems

Impacted Teeth

Impactions can be caused by improper positioning of the developing tooth bud, by excessive lack of space, or by early loss of baby teeth. Wisdom teeth are the most commonly impacted teeth, but canines and premolars can also become impacted.

Missing Teeth

The number of teeth affects the look or aesthetic appearance of the smile and the function of the jaws and the teeth. In cases of missing anterior (front) teeth, symmetry plays an important role in whether it is best to have a missing tooth/teeth replaced or the space of the missing tooth closed. Missing teeth may result from hereditary causes (quite common) or environmental factors such as decay, accidents where teeth may have been knocked out, or the failure of teeth to erupt, which leads to an impaction.

Crowding

Crowding is the lack of space for all the teeth to fit normally within the jaws. Crowding occurs when there is disharmony in the tooth to jaw size relationship or when the teeth are larger than the available space. Crowding can be caused by improper eruption of teeth and early or late loss of primary teeth.

Spacing

Spacing is an excess of space for teeth which results in gaps between the teeth. This problem generally occurs when the teeth are smaller than the available space. Spacing can also be caused by protrusive teeth, missing teeth, impacted teeth or abnormal tissue attachments to the gums.

Crossbites

A crossbite can occur in the front and/or the sides of the mouth: one or more upper teeth fit inside of the lower teeth. This can occur with a single tooth or multiple teeth. Early correction (usually before age 11) is strongly recommended. After this age, the crossbite may only be able to be corrected with surgery.

Openbite

An openbite is an insufficient vertical overlap of the teeth. It is caused by oral habits such as tongue thrust, digit sucking or by uneven jaw growth. Timing of treatment is critical to the overall success of the therapy: usually, the younger, the better.

Overbite

An overbite occurs when the upper front teeth protrude over the lower front teeth. Generally there is no contact between the upper and lower front teeth. Often the lower front teeth are completely covered by the upper front teeth.

Overjet

Overjet is also known as protrusion. In this case, the lower front teeth are too far behind the upper front teeth. This can be caused by an improper alignment of the molars, a skeletal imbalance of the upper and lower jaw, flared upper incisors, missing lower teeth or a combination of all the above. In addition, oral habits such as thumb-sucking, finger sucking or tongue thrusting can exacerbate the condition.

Underbite

An underbite occurs when the lower front teeth protrude past the upper front teeth. It is usually caused by undergrowth of the upper jaw, overgrowth of the lower jaw, or a combination of the two. Early correction of underbite is strongly recommended: usually, the younger, the better.