Orthodontics is the dental specialty involving the correction of malocclusions or, in other words, straightening teeth. Anomalies can often occur with regard to the position of teeth as they erupt into the mouth when we are young. A common problem is lack of space where the mouth is too small to allow all the teeth to fit in without bunching up, so that some teeth overlap, or are protruded, or pushed in. Sometimes the upper teeth are too far forward and excessively prominent, producing a "goofy" smile. Alternatively, the upper teeth may be pushed backwards and overlap the lowers too far, impinging on the lower gums (retroclined with increased overbite), or the lower jaw may be too large bringing the lower front teeth in front of the uppers (class 3 occlusion). Sometimes the odd tooth comes through twisted or rotated, or doesn't even come through at all but gets stuck (impacted) against another tooth because of it growing in the wrong direction. There may even be a mix of such anomalies, and if these are not treated they can be quite disfiguring and spoil a person's appearance for life.
Fortunately, a qualified orthodontist such as an Eclipse Orthodontist in Leeds or wherever your local town happens to be, can assess the situation and usually devise a suitable treatnent plan.
The actual business of straightening teeth involves making space where necessary and moving and guiding teeth gently through the jaw bone to where they should be. This is achieved with fixed orthodontic appliances or braces, of which there are various designs and systems. The whole process can take from a few months to a couple of years or more, and is best done whilst a person is still young, although an increasing amount of orthodontic correction is being carried out for adults too.
The typical fixed appliance may have brackets affixed to various teeth with one or more metal wires running between the teeth. Tension on wires of varying thickness can be fine tuned to gradually align teeth, and sometimes springs are used to open up spaces between teeth. In cases of overcrowding it is occasionally necessary to extract one or more teeth but this is done much less often than it used to be because modern appliances can often move teeth round the arch to make space at the front when required.
Orthodontics has benefited greatly from scientific research and tecnological improvements and so is much more precise than it ever used to be. A new system has been developed for the correction of some moderate malocclusions employing clear plastic aligners that are computer designed in order to correctly move the teeth as necessary. There is certainly no need these days to go through life with crooked teeth or a wonky smile!