Orthodontics is the specialized branch of dentistry that deals with the correction of dentofacial structures (teeth and jaw bones) both in the growth phase (orthodontics of the developmental age) and in maturity (adult orthodontics). In practice, Orthodontics deals with the Diagnosis, Prevention, Interception and Treatment of incorrect dental occlusions, through the most suitable intervention for the achievement and subsequent maintenance of correct relationships between the teeth and good harmony and aesthetics.
Orthodontic treatment often involves an intervention on skeletal growth, therefore the orthodontist must have a good knowledge not only of dental development, but also of craniofacial growth. The presence of irregular teeth or in incorrect occlusion can cause: functional problems (including difficulty in mandibular movements with pain and muscle incoordination and temporomandibular joint disorders), problems with chewing, swallowing and phonation, increased susceptibility to dental trauma and periodontal problems, psychosocial problems (related to facial aesthetics and poor acceptance).
Orthodontics is divided into:
- Dento-facial orthopedics whose objective is the resolution of bone growth imbalances before this condition is structured in such a way as to require a combined orthodontic-surgical approach.
- Fixed orthodontics which aims to correct dental malpositions, thus aiming at the functional and aesthetic recovery of permanent dentition.
When to do an assessment of the correct position of the teeth?
From age 3 to 6, children can already benefit from an orthodontic evaluation. By the age of 3, the deciduous dentition is generally completed, by the age of 7 most children have, in fact, a mixed dentition. The advantage of early orthodontic treatment for young patients is that some problems can be more easily corrected if treated early. Conversely, waiting for all permanent teeth to erupt or until growth is nearly complete can make it more difficult to correct the problem.
Orthodontics in children, called interceptive orthodontics, has as its main purpose the interception and correction of problems relating to the craniofacial growth of the young patient. The main objective is not so much to align the dental elements (also because we are in a phase in which all the permanent dental elements are not yet present), as to prevent the establishment of important malocclusions through, for example, the elimination of bad habits (such as thumb sucking), the restoration of proper breathing and the early correction of skeletal or dental malocclusions that can negatively affect growth.
The interceptive treatment allows to bring the growth back to normal parameters by orienting its potential in the right direction and to control the evolution of the dentition, for example gaining space with a reduction in the need to perform permanent tooth extractions. The interceptive treatment is therefore fundamental as it harmonizes the growth of the jaws, decreases the possibility of a second phase of treatment (while not eliminating it) and also improves the self-esteem of the little patient in the presence of obvious malocclusions that can make him uncomfortable in the towards others.