Orthodontics is the term for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dental and facial irregularities. Common orthodontic problems, or malocclusions, that require treatment include crooked teeth, crowding, spacing, protruding upper teeth, overbite, underbite, open bite and crossbite. Appliances such as braces are used to correct malocclusions by moving the teeth and jaw into proper alignment. Treatment is designed to help the patient both aesthetically (by improving the smile) and functionally (by improving the bite). Patients who undergo orthodontic treatment often enjoy greater self-confidence with their new smile.
Orthodontic treatment can help patients of all ages, although treatment is most effective as soon as a problem is detected. Children should have an orthodontic exam before they turn 7 to detect and treat any problems early and to ensure optimal results. It is important to treat malocclusions before problems worsen or cause tooth decay, gum disease, surface wearing, stress on the gum and bone, jaw misalignment, headaches or face and neck pain.