Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that corrects dental and jaw irregularities to promote oral health. Aligned teeth are more resistant to decay and gum disease because they are easier to clean, while a balanced bite provides for more efficient chewing and harmony between the teeth, facial muscles, and jaw joints. Additionally, the improved aesthetics of the teeth, jaw, lips, and face can have positive psychological effects by improving one's self-image.
Orthodontics is appropriate for almost any age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7 to prevent the onset of specific dental and jaw abnormalities. Most patients start treatment when all of their permanent teeth have come in, sometimes as early as 10 years old. However, some children may need orthodontic treatment while there is a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth in order to correct specific early-onset bite problems. An early phase of orthodontics usually requires a short second phase once all of the permanent teeth have come into the mouth.
Orthodontics is not limited to children. One out of five orthodontic patients is an adult, and the numbers are growing. There are several modern and discrete treatment options that make it easier than ever to improve one's dental health and appearance with orthodontics. Regardless of age, aligned teeth promote proper function and better oral hygiene.