• The Dental Surgery Burnham

Don’t grin and bear your wonky smile

In the 21st century, there really is no need to go through life with misalignment in your mouth that make you miserable. Wonky teeth can make people self-conscious and reluctant to smile. They are also harder to keep clean and can lead to all sorts of expensive treatments later in life as they succumb to decay or gum disease, caused by a build-up of plaque in hard to clean crevices. Losing your teeth means losing the ability to eat properly, more loss of self-confidence, and having to invest in dentures, fixed bridges or dental implants.

It is always better to hang on to your own teeth for as long as possible, which is why at the Dental Surgery Burnham, orthodontics is an important part of our work.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the name for the branch of dentistry that deals with misaligned teeth and making sure the jaws bite together properly. Moving the jaws to align properly is best done before your child reaches their late teens, when the jawbone hardens. Before then it is still malleable and that is why you see so many young teenagers wearing braces.

Although jaws need to be treated early in life, this isn’t the case for misaligned teeth. Teeth can be moved within the jawbone no matter how old you are. It is never too late to get your teeth straightened. All it takes is sustained pressure on the tooth for about 72 hours and the jawbone responds by dissolving the bone in front of the direction of the pressure and building it up again behind it.

Traditionally this is done by pulling the teeth with wires strung between angled brackets fixed to the teeth. However, since the advent of 3D printing, it can now also been done by pushing the teeth using slightly mis-fitting rigid plastic aligners that look like mouth guards. When the pressure wears off with traditional braces, the dentist tightens the wires. With aligners, a new one is used. So patients get a series of aligners and wear each one for about 2 weeks. The aligners are very thin, about 0.3 millimetres, and almost disappear once they are snapped on over the teeth. They are also removable for eating and cleaning.

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