What Does An Orthodontist Do Besides Braces?
An orthodontist’s main goal is to give you a smile that is properly aligned and you are proud to show off. According to the Cambridge English dictionary, the definition of “orthodontist” is a person whose job is to correct the position of the teeth. Every orthodontist spends years learning and training in how teeth move, repositioning of the jaw, and the techniques that can be used.
When you think of orthodontists, the first thing you may think of is traditional braces. But this is only one example of the things orthodontists specialize in. There are a variety of different appliances (devices used to move teeth) and treatments that orthodontists work with.
If you are wondering “what does an orthodontist do besides braces?”, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ve put together all of the treatments and appliances used in most orthodontic offices, including here at Cook & Gutsche Orthodontics. Let’s take a look:
Aligners are a fairly newer orthodontic appliance compared to others but are quickly growing in popularity. Like braces, they are used to help straighten and align the teeth. Aligners can be used for mild to moderate cases of overbites, underbites, open bites, crossbites, and crowded teeth.
Aligner systems use a series of clear, customizable plastic trays that fit around your teeth and apply consistent pressure. They are designed to gradually and comfortably improve your smile and the alignment of your teeth. One popular example of a type of aligner that you may have heard of is Invisalign®.
Take a look at our article on Invisalign® for more information on these aligners.
Palatal Expanders (aka Palate Expander)
In children and adolescents, some common orthodontic problems like crossbites or severe crowding can be effectively corrected using an appliance called a palatal expander.
They fit into the roof of the mouth, gradually and painlessly widening the upper jaw and palate while the jaw and facial bones themselves are still developing. Therefore, palatal expanders can be used up until puberty.
The palatal expander creates tension which stimulates bone growth and expands the width of the palate. Through treatment with the expander, an ideal arch form is established. This creates the proper spacing for the eruption of adult teeth as well as proper alignment.
Check out our article on palate expanders for more in-depth info on this orthodontic treatment.
Jaw Repositioning Appliances
Jaw repositioning appliances, sometimes referred to as splints, are used to adjust either the lower or upper jaw as needed. In doing this, the whole jaw structure can perform more naturally and in alignment.
Orthodontists most often use these appliances for patients with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and other temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Jaw repositioning appliances are very effective in helping to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by these disorders.
Orthodontists prescribe headgear for children and adolescent patients in instances where the growth of the upper or lower jaw needs to be slowed down while also making sure that the patient’s teeth are in the proper positioning and fit nicely within the jaw.
Headgear is an appliance that usually consists of a strap that is placed around the back of the head and is then attached to a metal wire in the front of the mouth. This puts tension on the necessary places to correct the bite and align the jaw properly.
Like palatal expanders, when used as an early treatment protocol, headgear can help prevent the need for surgical correction later on down the road.
After active orthodontic treatment is completed, it is recommended to use a retainer(s) to prevent the teeth from shifting back out of their desired position. These appliances are most often worn during the night time while you are sleeping.
Retainers, which can be fixed or removable, fit against the roof of the mouth or along the backside of your bottom teeth. Then, a metal wire runs across the outside of the front teeth. This works to help hold your teeth in the proper place. There are also now retainers that are constructed as a plastic aligner.
Take a look at our article on retainers for more information on why these are so important.
If baby teeth are lost earlier than normal, that space needs to stay open for the adult tooth to have room to grow into. This is where space maintainers come in. They are essentially space fillers that prevent neighboring teeth from growing into the space meant for that adult tooth.
Until more baby teeth fall out and the adult teeth begin to grow in, these space maintainers stay in and keep the gap open. The fixed space maintainers consist of a band that is attached to one tooth along with a wire. It is extended across the gap to the tooth on the other side to stretch and keep the space from being closed in.
Lip & Cheek Bumpers
Sometimes, pain and discomfort can be caused when your lips and cheeks are putting excess pressure on your teeth. When this happens, orthodontists use lip and cheek bumpers. These help keep the lip and cheeks away from the teeth, quickly relieving the excess pressure.
Even though the whole point of this article is to expand your knowledge on what orthodontists do besides braces. We still wanted to include a section on braces. This is because, with the advancement of orthodontic technology over the last decade, there are now more options available to you when it comes to braces than just the traditional metal brackets and wiring.
Braces are still one of the most common orthodontic appliances used, but wearing braces can now be much more discreet with the availability of translucent ceramic brackets. There is also the Damon® braces system, a system that includes smaller (and even clear) tie-less brackets, is less noticeable overall, and often results in faster treatment time.
Take a look at our article on Damon® braces for more information on this system.
The elastics we are referring to here are the elastics that attach to tiny hooks on Damon® System braces or the buttons created for this purpose on clear aligners. These elastics assist the appliance in moving your teeth into the desired position.
The elastic bands may stretch from the lower jaw to the upper jaw or be connected to other teeth in the same jaw. These connection points are carefully determined by your orthodontist and the rubber band must be stretched following a precise pattern.
The elastics work to create the desired movement of individual teeth or groups of teeth while also preventing other teeth from moving out of proper alignment.
Trust Your Local Orthodontist For What You Need To Get The Smile You Want
As you can see, the answer to “what does an orthodontist do?” involves a lot more than just braces. Each patient’s case is different. Each treatment plan and what exactly that entails will be different. But, the end goal of your orthodontist always is to give you the smile you want and are excited to show off. No matter what age you are!
The orthodontic team here at Cook & Gutsche Orthodontics in Springfield PA has the skill, experience, and technology to give you your best smile. No matter what kind of treatment is needed. We can provide you the best appliance at the right time to achieve the best result.
To learn more about the treatment options available to you or for answers to any questions you may have, contact our team today!