1. What is Orthodontics?
2. Who is an Orthodontist?
3. What are the early warning signs of Orthodontic problems?
4. What is the best age to start Orthodontic treatment?
5. Why should you choose a qualified orthodontist for Orthodontic treatment?
6. How long does orthodontic treatment take?
7. Why do some people have nicely arranged teeth, while others do not?
8. Is extraction of teeth always required before Orthodontic treatment?
9. How important is patient co-operation during Orthodontic treatment?
10. Can adults also undergo Orthodontic treatment?
11. How is orthodontic treatment better than other procedures employed for improvement of smile?
12. Can orthodontic problems be prevented?
1. What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is “malocclusion”, which means “bad bite.” The practice of Orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to achieve facial balance.
2. Who is an Orthodontist?
An Orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities ie malocclusion (mal=bad, occlusion=bite) of the teeth and associated alterations in their surrounding structures and working with the patient to help make sure the teeth stay in their new positions.
An Orthodontist is a dental specialist who has obtained a master’s degree in Orthodontics after graduation in dentistry which takes a minimum of three years of training in a recognized institution.Through this training,the Orthodontist learns the skills required to manage tooth movement(Orthodontics) and guide facial development (Dentofacial Orthopedics).
Only the dentists who have successfully completed this advance specialty education may call themselves Orthodontists.
All   Orthodontists are dentists but all dentists are not Orthodontists.
3. What are the early warning signs of Orthodontic problems?
  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are “bucked.”
  • Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower-front teeth(underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together and space exists                 between them(open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth or extra teeth.
  • The centers of the upper and lower front teeth do not line up.
  • Finger- or thumb-sucking habits which continue after six or seven years of age.
  • Difficulty chewing.
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively.
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when the teeth bite together.
  • Excessive spaces between the teeth that persist after the top permanent canine teeth appear.
  • Milk teeth retained for long.
4. What is the best age to start Orthodontic treatment?
Age is not a guiding factor for starting Orthodontic treatment. The most important is the nature and discrepancy of the problem, onset of the problem and management.
The best time to start Orthodontic treatment is when it will minimize treatment time, achieve a normal profile and get the best long-term, stable result.
It is recommended that all children have an Orthodontic screening done by the age of six years.
This is important, more so in children with a possibility of inherited orthodontic problems.
Orthodontist can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth, even while some baby teeth are still present. Even if a problem is detected, immediate treatment may not be recommended, but the child is checked periodically and monitored as the face and jaws continue to grow and the Orthodontist can start the treatment at the ideal time, mostly coinciding with the maximum growth activity of the child, when maximum response is seen. This is generally between the age of 9-14 years. Sometimes the treatment is started as early as 7-8 years, especially when the child needs correction of jaws also.
Nowadays the orthodontists prefer the earlier age because in the growing age, due to easy stimulation, modification of the jaws is easier: whereas when grown, sometimes the treatment becomes complicated due to full growth.
Still it is considered that age is no limit for orthodontic treatment.
When in doubt, seek your orthodontist’s advice.
5. Why should you choose a qualified orthodontist for Orthodontic treatment?
Many dentists claim to be able to treat with braces which are not within their purview, whereas orthodontists have undergone years of specialized training in orthodontics after receiving a dental degree and they have learned the special skills required to manage tooth movement(orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics).
Like in the other branches of medicine, every dentist is not an orthodontist.
Teeth and sometimes faces are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. Therefore it is very important that the treatment is done right the very first time.
You would be at considerable risk by submitting yourself to treatment with an unqualified orthodontist as a wrongly done treatment can become irreversible.
Back to Top
6. How long does orthodontic treatment take?
The problems, needs and demands of each patient are unique.
Therefore, the length and type of treatment can only be determined after thorough evaluation.
It generally depends on:
Interceptive or early treatment procedures may take only a few months, whereas average patient may take from 6-8 months to upto 3 years, patients with cleft lip and palate start in infancy and keep coming for follow-ups till they reach adulthood.
Mild problems usually require less time.
If the age at which treatment is commenced relates to/coincides with the phase of maximum growth rate, the treatment becomes faster. (It generally takes a little longer in adults.)
Some individuals respond faster to treatment than others.
Patient co-operation is required for maintaining good oral hygiene, keeping regular appointments, maintaining orthodontic appliances, religious use of rubber bands and/ or headgear as prescribed by the orthodontist.
With some latest advances in orthodontics like introduction of latest fast acting wires and other appliances, treatment duration in certain types of problems can be reduced considerably.
Back to Top
7. Why do some people have nicely arranged teeth, while others do not?
A majority of Orthodontic problems are inherited, while others are acquired.
Hereditary problems
  • Just as the colour of our skin, eyes or hair is largely determined by hereditary factor, so is the arrangement of our teeth. The children born to the parents having irregular, crooked, spaced or protruding teeth are likely to have similar problems.
  • Size of the teeth in relation to the jaw.
Sometimes both the parents may have nicely arranged teeth but the child may have inherited tooth (big) size from one parent and jaw (small) size from another parent. With the result that the teeth don’t fit properly into the jaw and may either start protruding (tilting outwards) or may get crowded or impacted (teeth fail to erupt due to shortage of space and remain embedded in the palate)
Similarly, small teeth in a big-sized jaw may lead to spaces or retraction (tilting inwards) of teeth.
  • Extra teeth (leading to crowding) or missing teeth (lead to spaces).
  • Cleft lip and palate.
  • A wide variety of irregularities of the jaws, teeth and face.
    Back to Top
Acquired problems
Malocclusions may be caused by:
  • Trauma (accident)
  • Thumb, Finger or Pacifier (dummy) sucking for long.
  • Injuries to mouth
  • Nasal airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids.
  • Dental diseases like caries or premature loss of primary (baby) or permanent teeth.
  • Over retention of baby teeth.
  • Fingernail biting or lip biting.
8. Is extraction of teeth always required before Orthodontic treatment?
This depends on the severity of the problem.
In cases of mild crowding, treatment can often be carried out without extraction.
Teeth usually appear “crooked” because they cannot be accommodated within the jaw. By extracting certain teeth, the required space is created, to enable those teeth, which are pushed out of line, to be rearranged so that they are aligned properly.
In some cases, extractions can be avoided if the treatment is started early.
A good Orthodontist always closes the extraction spaces properly.
Back to Top
9. How important is patient co-operation during Orthodontic treatment?
Successful Orthodontic treatment is a “two-way street” that requires a consistent, cooperative effort by both the orthodontist and the patient.
To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must
  • Carefully clean his/her teeth and appliance.
To keep teeth and gums healthy, regular visits to the family dentist must continue during orthodontic treatment.
Adults who have a history of, or concerns about periodontal (gum) diseases may also see a periodontist (specialist in treating diseases of the gums and bone) on a regular basis throughout orthodontic treatment.
  •  Wear rubber bands, headgear or other appliances as prescribed by the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their desired positions if the patient consistently wears the prescribed forces to the teeth.
  •  Keep appointments as scheduled.
  • Maintain the appliance and do not make any breakages.
Damaged appliances can lengthen the treatment time and may undesirably affect the outcome of treatment.
  • Dr. Gautam has successfully treated many cooperative  patients in less than one year.
    Back to Top
Patients who do their part consistently make themselves look good and their orthodontist look smart.
10. Can adults also undergo Orthodontic treatment?
YES, In fact more and more adults are going in for Orthodontic treatment these days. Reasons are many.
  • Earlier, there was lack of awareness.
  •  Moreover, the Orthodontic treatment was not all that prevalent and/or the available techniques were not capable of correcting their kind of malocclusion at that point of time.
  • Now because of the malocclusion they have problems with their teeth and gums,e.g. excessive grinding of teeth due to deep-bite.
  •  They get indigestion all the time or they are just unhappy with their smile.
  • Sometimes Orthodontic treatment is required as adjunct treatment for carrying out other dental procedures like dentures, implants etc.
  • Some adults embark on treatment after they witness a transformation in their kids.
So age is no bar, provided you have:
  • Sound and healthy teeth, gums and supporting bone.
  • The patient’s full co-operation.
  • Invisible (tooth coloured), Concealed (lingual) braces are available for socially active  patients.
  • Dr. Gautam Munjal has successfully treated many patients upto 60 years of age.
    Back to Top
11. How is orthodontic treatment better than other procedures employed for improvement of smile?
  • Orthodontic treatment is a natural and normal process which gradually disperses the biting pressure to move the tooth in the right direction and hence goes slowly and steadily.
  •  It does not involve any cutting and building or alteration of tooth structure and therefore does not hamper with the enamel, dentine, pulp and hence vitality of tooth.
  •  Rather during Orthodontic treatment tooth is moved along with its entire supportive structures till it reaches the final position and hence remains healthy throughout and after the treatment.
  • As the teeth finally come to a better occlusion the orthodontic treatment actually improves the dental health.
12. Can orthodontic problems be prevented?
YES, in fact many of the acquired orthodontic problems can be avoided with little care.
Dr. Gautam Munjal has been very active in spreading awareness about preventing orthodontic problems.
  • Avoid thumb, finger or pacifier-sucking for long.
  • Avoid tongue-thrusting and if required take the help of an Orthodontist to overcome the habit.
  • Avoid fingernail biting or lip biting.
  • Take care of your milk teeth so that they are not lost prematurely.
  • Show to a specialist whenever there is a nasal airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids.
  • In case of trauma/accident, consult a specialist as soon as possible.
  • Consult an Orthodontist if baby teeth are slow to  fall.
Back to Top
2009 All rights reserved