At Orthodontics LA, we believe in transparency and patient education. Orthodontics is the practice of realigning teeth into a healthy, functional, and aesthetic position. We want patients to be aware of why and how their orthodontic treatment is administered. Generally, it is based on the severity and complexity of orthodontic issues, such as the ones below. Having an understanding of common problems and how they are treated is fundamental for orthodontists to helping patients achieve their dream smile!
When there isn’t enough space for permanent teeth to grow in, they may be forced into odd angles and positions. Crowding can lead to crooked teeth and jaws. It can also make it difficult to brush and floss teeth, leading to dental decay or cavities. For children whose mouths are still growing, crowding can be prevented with palatal expanders. If not, the orthodontist may have to extract a tooth to make room in the mouth for a straight smile.
An overjet, also known as a protrusion, is a condition where the top incisors jut out over the bottom incisors or vice versa. It can be caused by an underdeveloped lower jaw, teeth crowding, thumb sucking, or even genetics. Most orthodontic appliances can easily fix an overjet as it’s a minor orthodontic issue that’s less likely to be a structural problem.
An open bite occurs when the upper and lower teeth do not meet even when the mouth is fully closed. Most cases are preventable because they are caused by placing excessive strain on the alignment of the teeth. Habits like thumb sucking, pencil chewing, or bottle drinking can all affect the development of the teeth and jaws into an open bite.
The dental condition where top teeth overlap bottom teeth is called an overbite. Although it’s a common and easy condition to correct, an extreme overbite can lead to more problems over time if left untreated.
The opposite of an overbite is an underbite. It’s the dental condition where the bottom teeth overlap the top teeth. An extreme underbite may be caused by overgrowth of the jaw and may need surgical treatment. It can lead to tooth decay, worn enamel, and bruxism if it is ignored.
An anterior crossbite is type of malocclusion where your top front teeth fall behind your lower front teeth. It signals a lateral misalignment of the dental arches. This structural imbalance can lead to bruxism and joint pain because pressure is being unevenly distributed throughout the mouth.
A posterior crossbite is a type of malocclusion where the top posterior teeth fall inside the lower teeth. Like an anterior crossbite, it means the dental arches are not in alignment and it can lead to health complications later down the line. Crossbites can be hereditary as in a narrow skeletal arch or they can be caused by the abnormal eruption of permanent teeth. Posterior cross bite can easily be correct at a young age. As we get older the palatal sutures fuse and the only way to correct a skeletal posterior crossbite is with surgery. This is why it is important to be seen by an orthodontist at age 7.
Gapped teeth or distemas happen when there is more space between two teeth than usual. A minor gap may not pose any health or functional problems, but many patients prefer to correct gaps for aesthetic reasons. In certain situations, gaps can cause speaking disabilities or crowd out other teeth. Large gaps may be a result of a strong tongue habit pushing on the teeth. These habits can be addressed with orthodontic appliances.
For children whose teeth are still developing, an orthodontist can monitor the progress of their teeth as they grow and prevent major orthodontic issues in the future. There are many appliances that can correct a child’s teeth, jaws, and overall dental structure early on.