Orthodontics is concerned with growth of the jaws and face, development of the teeth, and the way teeth and jaws bite together. Ideally, the lower front teeth bite in the middle of the back surface of the upper front teeth. When the lower front teeth bite further behind the upper front teeth than ideal, this is known as a Class II malocclusion. A Class II division 2 malocclusion is characterised by upper front teeth that are retroclined (tilted toward the roof of the mouth) and an increased overbite (vertical overlap of the front teeth), which can cause oral problems and may affect appearance. This problem can be corrected by the use of special dental braces (functional appliances) that move the upper front teeth forward and change the growth of the upper or lower jaws, or both. These braces can be removed from the mouth and this approach does not usually require removal of any permanent teeth. Additional treatment with fixed braces may be necessary to ensure the best result.
An alternative approach is to provide space for the correction of the front teeth by moving the molar teeth backwards. This is done by applying a force to the teeth from the back of the head using a head brace (headgear) and transmitting this force to part of a fixed or removable dental brace that is attached to the back teeth. The treatment may be carried out with or without extraction of permanent teeth. If headgear use is not feasible, the back teeth may be held in place by bands connected to a fixed arch placed across the roof of the mouth or in contact with the front of the roof of the mouth. This treatment usually requires two permanent teeth to be taken out from the middle of the upper arch (one on each side).
Permanent canine teeth in the upper jaw usually erupt into the mouth between the ages of 11 to 12 years. In 2% to 3% of young people, the canine teeth fail to erupt (grow down) and become displaced in the roof of the mouth (palate).This can leave unsightly gaps, cause damage to the surrounding roots (which can be so severe that neighbouring teeth are lost or have to be removed) and, occasionally, result in the development of cysts.
Management of this problem is both time consuming and expensive. It usually involves surgical exposure (uncovering), followed by fixed orthodontic braces for two to three years, to move the canine into the correct position. Two surgical techniques are routinely used in the UK: the closed technique involves uncovering the buried tooth, gluing an attachment onto the exposed tooth and repositioning the palatal flap. Shortly after surgery, an orthodontic brace is used to apply gentle forces to bring the canine into its correct position within the dental arch. The canine moves into position beneath the gum. An alternative method is the open technique, which involves surgically uncovering the canine tooth as before, but instead of placing an attachment onto the exposed tooth, a window of gum from around the tooth is removed and a dressing (pack) placed to cover the exposed area. Approximately 10 days later, this pack is removed and the canine is allowed to erupt naturally. Once the tooth has erupted sufficiently for an orthodontic attachment to be glued onto its surface, orthodontic braces are used to bring the tooth in line with the other teeth. Continue reading
Pain is usual during orthodontic treatment, especially when a brace is placed on the teeth. Later adjustments of the brace can also result in pain, sometimes lasting up to a week or more. This can make people stop their orthodontic treatment, meaning that the benefits are lost. Painkillers have been recommended to reduce pain, but an effective non-drug solution would lower the risk of side effects and help people follow the full course of treatment. Continue reading
Once people finish having their teeth straightened with orthodontic braces, the teeth will tend to get crooked again. Orthodontists try to prevent this by using different retention procedures. Retention procedures can include either wearing retainers, which fit over or around teeth, or stick onto the back of teeth, or by using something called ‘adjunctive procedures’. Adjunctive procedures either change the shape of the contacts between teeth, or involve a very small procedure to cut the connection between the gum and the neck of the tooth. This is an update of a Cochrane review published previously in 2006. Continue reading
Throughout the world, orthodontic treatment is used to correct the position of teeth in adolescents and adults when they experience problems. Braces are orthodontic appliances made up of brackets glued to the teeth and then connected by wires in order to exert pressure on the teeth to move them and improve their positioning. Depending on the problem, the length of time for treatment may range from several months to several years. However, on average, most treatments take around 24 months. Accelerating the rate of tooth movement may help to reduce the length of time needed for a course of treatment and may reduce the unwanted effects of orthodontic treatment that can sometimes occur, such as tooth decay and the shortening of the tooth root. Several methods, including surgical and non-surgical treatments, have been suggested to accelerate orthodontic tooth movement. The evidence relating to non-surgical procedures to accelerate orthodontic tooth movement is assessed in this review. Continue reading
Orthodontic treatment (use of braces) is lengthy, typically taking over 18 months to complete, with brace adjustments required every six weeks or so. Usually brace treatment is carried out without the use of surgery. However, reduction of orthodontic treatment duration is highly desirable and special surgical procedures have been proposed to speed it up. This surgery may work by stimulating cells adjacent to the teeth or by reducing the resistance presented by the supporting bone and mechanically shifting teeth. These surgical procedures are relatively new and may carry additional risks compared to standard treatment. Continue reading
Often babies and children develop a habit of sucking objects to comfort and calm them. They frequently suck dummies (known as pacifiers in the USA), fingers, thumbs or other items like blankets. Eventually, most children grow out of the habit, or stop due to encouragement from their parents. Some children, however, continue sucking as a habit. If they continue to do so as their adult teeth start to grow through (around the age of six), there is a risk that these adult teeth will grow into the wrong position causing them to stick out too far or not meet properly when biting. As a result these children often need dental treatment to fix the problems caused by their sucking habit. Possible treatments to help children break their sucking habits examined in studies in this review include the use of two different braces in the mouth; giving advice and incentives for changing behaviour (known as psychological advice/treatment); applying a bitter, nasty tasting substance to the children’s thumbs/fingers or combinations of these treatments. None of the studies included looked at barrier methods, for example the use of gloves or plasters or withdrawal of dummies. Continue reading