Improper position of teeth and jaws is a problem facing people in our society.
In my last week’s article in Your Health titled ‘Are your teeth, jaws in wrong position’, I talked of dealing with conditions that require movement of the teeth done under a specialty called orthodontics.
Like I had mentioned, improper position of teeth and jaws is a problem facing people in our society and many of them don’t know how to deal with it.
But those who might be aware of the treatment or practice, have several questions and misconceptions that I would like to answer and clear. This should serve as a lesson and tips for all.
Q. Is the orthodontic treatment only cosmetic?
A. Many people view orthodontic appliances as a mere cosmetic treatment that is only for people who care about their appearance.
Besides straightening teeth and creating a beautiful smile, orthodontic intervention corrects unhealthy bites (deep bite, open bite, crossbite, increased overjet, impacted teeth and misalignment) that can lead to greater oral health concerns.
Q. Are the orthodontic issues treatable in children only?
A. One in five orthodontic patients is an adult.
Q. How many years does aligning an improper teeth or jaw take?
A. Orthodontic treatment requires careful, controlled movements of the teeth to ensure they are moving into proper positions.
Simple cases may only take a few months to treat while the most complex cases take longer.
Orthodontists have the training, experience, and skill to deliver excellent results in the shortest amount of time.
Q. Is it a painful process?
A. The adjustment period of the appliances used during treatment, is a comfortable process. Some orthodontic appliances may be worn for a few months, depending on the respective malocclusion.
To date, the materials being used for orthodontic treatment are significantly more comfortable than it used to in the past. Orthodontic appliances work better than ever without causing the patient pain.
Q. Do the tools fitted on the teeth or jaw have to always be tight to correct the teeth position?
A. It is a common misconception that the tighter the orthodontic tools, the better they work and the faster an individual completes treatment.
The truth is that too much tightness is bad for the teeth and will not fix alignment issues any faster.
Q. I read somewhere that signals from orthodontic appliance link to the Internet to download songs onto an iPod. How true it this?
A. This is not possible right now.
Q. What’s fixed on the teeth, the appliances that we often refer to, can trigger metal security detectors?
A. Orthodontic appliances are made of materials that do not interfere with metal detectors.
Q. Can the tools used on the teeth during treatment increase the patients’ chance of getting struck by lightning?
A. Patients wearing orthodontic appliances have the same chance of being struck by lightning as those without appliances (1 in 700,000!)
The author is a lecturer of Dentistry at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS).