You do not have to worry. We, experts in dentistry have the responsibility of taking care of your teeth and jaws, in terms of supervision, guidance and correction.
We deal with conditions that require movement of the teeth or correction of mal-relationships and malformations of their related structures.
This is usually done under a specialty called orthodontics. Here, we diagnose, prevent, intercept and treat all forms of the teeth, which are thought not to be aligned well in your mouth.
In short, orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly.
Improper position of teeth and jaws is a problem facing people in our society but not everyone knows where and how to deal with it. But, experts in Tanzania are always ready to intervene.
Not a new practice
Orthodontics has been practiced since the days of the ancient Egyptians. However, methods of treatment involving the use of bands, removable appliances and the current popular braces have become prominent only since the beginning of the 20th century.
In very general terms, orthodontic work aims at solving many problems including the following:
1. Where the upper front teeth lie too far forward (stick out) over the lower teeth
2. Appearance where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth too far back
3. When the upper teeth do not come down slightly in front of the lower teeth when biting together
4. When space between the biting surfaces of the front and/or side teeth when the back teeth bite together
5. When the center of your upper front teeth does not line up with the center of your lower front teeth
6. When there are gaps, or spaces, between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that do not fill up the mouth
7. When there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate
Types of orthodontic problems
Orthodontic misalignments, called malocclusions, can indicate a number of different conditions.
Inherited malocclusions include jaw growth problems, missing teeth, extra teeth, crowded or protruded teeth and spacing problems.
However, the premature loss of baby teeth, retention of baby teeth, thumb or finger-sucking, accidents, and congenital malformations like the cleft lip and/or palate as well as certain types of orofacial diseases can also result in a need for orthodontic intervention.
Importance of orthodontic treatment
Correcting orthodontic problems is not just about cosmetics and improving self-confidence.
There are very important oral health reasons as well. Malocclusions can cause difficulty in chewing and speaking while wearing away enamel on healthy teeth and putting excess stress on gum tissues and surrounding bone(s).
In addition, teeth that are overlapping are difficult to clean, which can put them at risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Just like in engineering, an orthodontist works on structural integrity of the orofacial structures. In this case, instead of cement blocks, tiles, steel and fiberglass, for orthodontics, it is teeth, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and bones.
General dentists can diagnose orthodontic problems that they might not necessarily have the particular training to treat on their own.
For this reason, it is usually incredibly important that dentists and orthodontists work together closely.
Like an architect calling an engineer to solve the particulars of a structural problem, a dentist will refer his or her patients to a specialised orthodontist for help that might involve braces, aligners, and sometimes surgery.
The author is a lecturer of Dentistry at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas).