What Is Orthodontics?

Doctor with a patient

Specialties exist everywhere you turn, from bakeries to hospitals, and teeth are no exception. Chances are you’ve heard the term orthodontics before, but you may be unsure what it actually means, or what an orthodontist really does. Castilla Orthodontics is all about keeping patients educated and informed, because when you know what orthodontic care entails, you can be a more active participant in your own care!

To help you better understand exactly what orthodontics is, what orthodontists like Dr. Castilla do, and the many ways both can benefit you, we’ve put together this guide to the basics. Keep reading to find out more!

The Basics of Orthodontics

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that falls underneath the umbrella of dentistry, and orthodontists like Dr. Castilla focus on correcting teeth and jaws that are improperly positioned. Before orthodontists can provide this kind of care and treatment, however, they have to learn a lot about the way teeth and jaws develop, and how to best correct any issues with that development. Like General Dentists, Orthodontists attend both college and dental school. However, Orthodontists then go on to study for an additional two or 3 years in an ADA-approved orthodontic training program. By the time they’re ready to begin taking on orthodontic patients, they have the kind of in-depth knowledge and training necessary to improve oral issues requiring orthodontic care.

Though straighter smiles are what most people tend to associate orthodontics with, cosmetic issues aren’t the only thing they can can address. There are actually many dental problems orthodontic treatment can correct, and this will often lead to better oral health overall as well. Crooked teeth are a perfect example of this. It’s definitely possible for them to detract from your appearance, but the much more important issue is how difficult it can be to keep your teeth and gums clean and free from bacteria due to their poor positioning. This can increase your risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease, and the misalignment can also cause extra stress on the chewing muscles. This may eventually lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome, or neck, shoulder, and back pain.

Some of the most common dental issues that can benefit from orthodontics are:

  • Overbite — the upper front teeth lie too far forward and stick out over the lower teeth.
  • Underbite — a “bulldog” appearance, where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth are too far back.
  • Crossbite — in normal bites, the upper teeth will be out over the top of the lower teeth when biting down. With a crossbite, this does not happen. There are a few different types of crossbites, depending on where the upper teeth fall in relation to the lower ones.
  • Open bite — there’s a space between the biting surfaces of the front or side teeth when the back teeth bite together.
  • Misplaced midline — the center of the upper front teeth doesn’t line up with the center of the lower front teeth.
  • Spacing issues — there are gaps in between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that don’t “fill up” the mouth.
  • Crowding issues — there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate

If you have experience with any of these problems, you may be a good candidate for orthodontic treatment, and we invite you to contact our Salem office to schedule an evaluation

Is orthodontic treatment an option for you?

family smiling down

Castilla Orthodontics is proud to offer a complimentary initial consultation. This gives Dr. Castilla an opportunity to evaluate your needs and address any concerns you have about your smile. During this first visit, we’ll use a variety of different diagnostic tools to determine if orthodontic treatment could be beneficial to you. These tools include:

  • a full medical and dental health history
  • a clinical exam
  • special X-rays and photographs

After a review of these items, Dr. Castilla will discuss with you which, if any, orthodontic treatment would be right for you. At that point, a customized treatment plan can be developed based on your specific dental needs and goals.

Orthodontic treatment

There are several different types of appliances that can be used by orthodontists to help move the teeth into more desirable positions. Depending on the case, we can use fixed or removable appliances. These are also able to retrain the muscles of the jaw, and affect its growth.

Orthodontic appliances work by placing gentle, continuous pressure on the teeth and jaws. Since every patient is unique, your specific need and the severity of your problem will be the biggest deciding factor in which orthodontic approach is likely to be the most effective.

Fixed appliances

Braces: Traditional metal braces are by far the most common and easily recognized orthodontic appliance. Bands are fixed around the teeth and used as anchors, while brackets are bonded to the front of the tooth. We then pass arch wires through the bands, and attach them to the brackets. Through regular tightening and adjusting of the arch wire, usually every 6-8 weeks, the gentle pressure on the teeth will begin to gradually move them into new and improved positions. This can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the particular case.

Modern metal braces aren’t the bulky, uncomfortable appliance they used to be. Technology in recent years has allowed for a great deal of improvement, and today’s braces are smaller, more comfortable, and far less obvious than they used to be. They’re even available with brightly colored bands for those who like to make a statement and show off their personality! For patients looking for a less conspicuous option, there are also clear ceramic styles to choose from.

Fixed space maintainers: Sometimes life happens, and baby teeth are lost prematurely. It’s important to keep the remaining teeth from crowding that empty space out. We are able to provide customized space maintainers which can be fitted to keep the space open until the permanent tooth erupts.

Removable appliances

Woman with Retainer and InvisalignAligners: Clear aligners are currently the most popular alternative to traditional braces for teens and adults. Invisalign is the clear aligner system most people are familiar with. These removable aligners are able to move teeth the same way fixed appliances do without any of the hassle and restrictions that can accompany metal wires and brackets. Virtually invisible and easy to take out, it’s not hard to see why more and more orthodontists patients are choosing these to treat common dental issues effectively but discreetly.  

Jaw repositioning appliances: Also called splints, these devices can be worn on either the top or lower jaw, and can help train the jaw to close in a more favorable position.

Palatal expander: This device widens the arch of the upper jaw using a plastic plate that fits over the roof of the mouth. Gentle outward pressure is applied to the plate bya turning mechanism and this gradually separates the joints in the bones of the palate, widening it in the process.

Removable retainers: Most people are familiar with these, but may not realize what an important part of the orthodontic process they are! Worn over the teeth after the active orthodontic treatment has been completed, these devices keep teeth straight by preventing them from shifting back to their previous position. If retainers aren’t worn as directed, a newly straightened smile won’t stay that way for long.

Headgear: Headgear slows down the growth of the upper jaw, and holds the back teeth in place by placing a strap around the back of the head attached to a metal wire in front.

The best orthodontic experience in Salem with Castilla Orthodontics

We believe everyone deserves a healthy, beautiful, and functional smile they love! Orthodontics can positively impact your life in many ways, from cosmetic benefits to improved overall health, and we understand that choosing to invest in it is a big decision. Our team will put every effort into providing you with an optimal orthodontic experience, from state-of-the-art technology to the latest techniques. Dr. Castilla and her team have over 80 years of combined experience, so you know you’re in the best hands when you visit us!

If you’re in Salem or the surrounding area, and want to learn more about what orthodontics has to offer you and your family, get in touch with us today to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Castilla. Your very best smile could be right around the corner!