The process of straightening teeth, is called Orthodontics. It may be loosely defined as the science of moving teeth, straightening irregular, crowded or improperly placed teeth. Dentists who are specially qualified in this area of expertise are referred to as Orthodontists.

Anyone with malaligned or irregular teeth, buck teeth, crowded teeth, overlapping teeth, rabbit teeth or ones with gaps in between may require orthodontic treatment.

Braces can be fixed or removable, they provide steady, gentle pressure over time to move teeth into their proper positions. They don't look like they're doing much just sitting there, but in fact, every moment of orthodontic treatment, there's something happening in the mouth. The brackets we place on the teeth and the main arch wire that connects them, are the two main components. The bracket is a piece of specially shaped metal or ceramic that we affix to each tooth. Then the arch wire is bend to reflect the ideal bite-that one is supposed to look like after treatment. The wire threads through the brackets and, as the wire tries to return to its original shape, it applies pressure to actually move the teeth.
The orthodontist pushes the jaw to stretch the mouth so all the teeth fit. He then pushes on the teeth so they are all in the proper places. If the top jaw is too small, the orthodontist can install a special gadget called a "palatal expander" to get the jaw to grow wider. If the teeth stick out, the orthodontist can install another gadget called a "facebow" to push the back teeth back. In that way, the orthodontist is able to move around individual teeth and expand the jaw so that all of the teeth fit correctly in the mouth.

One can get orthodontic treatment at any age. Kids as young as 4 are sometimes advised to start orthodontics early to avoid a problem later on. People as old as 90 sometimes get orthodontic treatment to fix crooked teeth. Still, orthodontic treatment works best and is the least painful when you are 8 to 14 so we advise that you start orthodontic treatment then. The jaw is growing the quickest when the age is 8 or 9 so it is usually best to expand the jaw and reshape the mouth at the age of 8 or 9. This is called "interceptive orthodontics". Then we should wait for most of the permanent teeth to come in. Usually, the permanent teeth come at the age of 12 or 13 and that is the best time to start full orthodontic treatment.



What is the right age for orthodontic treatment?
As soon one gets permanent teeth, i.e. 12 to 14 years. Orthodontics treatment can be started.

Why do teeth become irregular?
There are numerous reasons for malaligned or irregular teeth. These are briefly:
· Small jaw
· Thumb-sucking
· Bad lip and tongue habits
· Other habits like breathing through the mouth, nail biting
· Incompetent lips
· Injury / accidents
Habits Causing Irregularity of Teeth

What does treatment involve?
This is done commonly by fixing braces to teeth and straightening them out.

Why do some patients have to extract teeth and some not?
In some cases a patient may need to get some teeth extracted in order to fix the braces. Teeth are only removed after serious consideration. However, if the patient is referred to a qualified orthodontist at a young age and the problem is not severe, then the entire treatment may be carried out without tooth removal.
It is critical therefore to visit a dentist at the earliest sign of irregular teeth so that he may refer you to an orthodontist.

Is the treatment very painful?
The treatment is certainly not painless, but the pain is mild and lasts from 3 to 7 days after a visit to the Orthodontist. After this, there is no pain. During subsequent adjustments or wire changes, there may be mild pain.
Recent advances in Orthodontics have made treatment far more comfortable. The braces become a part of body, just like a pair of spectacles.

Can I continue to eat my favourite foods? Do I have to modify my diet?
You can continue to eat your favourite foods but they will have to be prepared specially. Your food will have to be softened, or cut into small pieces, or be well-cooked before eating. Ice creams and colas may be had as usual but corn will have to be sliced off the cob, hard fruits will need to be sliced, nuts and chikki ground and chocolate must not be eaten after refrigeration.
Foods that are best avoided are popcorn, sticky chocolates, hard nuts and frLuts, hard crusts and chewing gum. These foods can break or loosen your braces making you uncomfottable and can delay treatment.

How should I clean teeth now?
Brushing with braces on your teeth requires a little more effort than, if you didn't have any.
· Use a soft bristled toothbrush or an orthodontic toothbrush
· Brush twice a day in gentle circular motions with special emphasis to dislodge food that is lodged between teeth and the braces. Use a mouthwash to rinse additionally.
· Never allow plaque or food to accumulate on the teeth and braces.

What else do I have to do during treatment?
You may have to wear small elastic bands which you change regularly. Some treatment requires a retractor or head gear, a lip bumper and other functional appliances which your orthodontist will show you how to use. Report any untoward change or damage of the braces immediately.

Does this treatment affect my performance at SCHOOL / WORK / SPORTS ?

Not at all. You will only need to take reasonable care of your braces during contact sports like boxing, football, hockey, cricket etc. to prevent damage to the braces and injury to the teeth and lips.