Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the alignment of your teeth, jaw and bite. Orthodontic treatments include traditional braces, clear aligners, headgear, expanders and corrective jaw surgery.

Orthodontic treatments prevent unnecessary wear on teeth and gums by treating an improper bite, straightening teeth, closing wide gaps between teeth. They can also enhance your smile and improve speech.

Who should see an orthodontist?

Ideally, your teeth should fit in your mouth without any crowding or spacing. They should not be rotated or twisted. Malocclusion (the imperfect positioning of teeth when the jaw is closed) affects the shape of your face, speech, chewing abilities and can increase your chances of tooth decay and gum disease in the future if not properly addressed.

Signs of malocclusion and that you may need orthodontic treatment:

  • Crowded teeth
  • Cross-bite
  • Over-bite
  • Under-bite
  • Open-bite

Orthodontic treatment can correct problems like:

  • Speech impediments
  • Jaw or TMJ pain
  • Difficulty chewing and eating
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gum disease and tooth decay

Malocclusion is usually an inherited condition, being passed down in the family from one parent/side of the family, or the other. Some conditions or habits that can cause malocclusion are:

  • Cleft lip or palate
  • Pacifier use after the age of 3
  • Prolonged bottle-feeding
  • Thumb sucking
  • Facial injuries
  • Tumors in the face, mouth, or jaw
  • Atypical shaped or impacted teeth

Common symptoms of misaligned teeth or jaw are:

  • Improper alignment of teeth
  • Frequent biting of lips, inner cheeks, or tongue
  • Discomfort when chewing food
  • Speech complications or the development of a lisp