The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children see an orthodontist by at least age seven and sooner if something is obviously wrong before age seven. Fortunately, most young patients don't need anything more than observation while the permanent teeth are growing into place.

Many young patients have problems, which will not, or should not wait. Most orthodontic problems are inherited and cannot be totally prevented; however something can usually be done before these problems become more difficult and more expensive to manage.

It is advisable to consult with an orthodontist prior to having your dentist remove any baby teeth or permanent teeth. To ensure the best overall dental and facial development, all patients should have an orthodontic consultation sometime between the ages of four and seven.

Dr. Bock offers early examinations and observation consultations. Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Classifications of Teeth

The classification of bites is divided into three main categories: Class I, II, and III. This classification refers to the position of the first molars, and how they fit together.

Class I
Class I is a normal relationship between the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws or balanced bite.


Class I normal



Class I crowding

 

Class I spacing
 

 

Class II
Class II is where the lower first molar is posterior (or more towards the back of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the upper front teeth and jaw project further forward than the lower teeth and jaw. There is a convex appearance in profile with a receding chin and lower lip. Class II problems can be due to insufficient growth of the lower jaw, an over growth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. In many cases, Class II problems are genetically inherited and can be aggravated by environmental factors such as finger sucking. Class II problems are treated via growth redirection to bring the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws into harmony.

 

 
Class II division 1

 
 
Class II division 2

 

 

Class III
Class III is where the lower first molar is anterior (or more towards the front of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the lower teeth and jaw project further forward than the upper teeth and jaws. There is a concave appearance in profile with a prominent chin. Class III problems are usually due to an overgrowth in the lower jaw, undergrowth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. Like Class II problems, they can be genetically inherited. Class III problems are usually treated via surgical correction of one or both jaws.

 
Class III functional or dental

 
 
Class III skeletal

 

 

Orthodontic Problems

 
Overjet
Upper front teeth protrude


 
 
Deep bite
Upper front teeth cover lower front teeth too much

 
 
Underbite
Lower front teeth protrude


 
 
Open bite
Back teeth are together with space between the front teeth


 

Crowding
Upper and/or lower teeth are crowded


 

Excess Spacing
There is excess space between teeth


 

Mid-Line Misalignment
Mid-lines of upper and lower arches do not line up

 

Crossbite
Upper back teeth fit inside lower teeth

Phases of Treatment

Phase I: Treatment usually takes 12 to 18 months and is done between the ages of 7-9. A variety of appliances may be used to correct specific problems.

Maintenance / Recall Phase: During the time between the first and second phase the patient will be seen every few months per year. This is to monitor the eruption of the permanent teeth and exfoliation of primary teeth.

Phase II (if required): During the first phase of treatment Dr. Bock has no control over 16 unerupted permanent teeth. If they grow in and problems still exist, further treatment, known as Phase II, will be required. A separate fee will be quoted at that time. Treatment usually takes 12-24 months.

Full Treatment: If you decide to wait, treatment will be started when all permanent teeth have erupted. Full treatment usually takes 18-30 months. The length of treatment depends on the severity of malocclusion and orthodontic problems.

Proper Braces Care and Brushing Techniques

Brushing and flossing your teeth can be challenging when wearing braces but it is extremely important that you do both consistently and thoroughly.

 
 
 


Foods to Avoid During Treatment: Eating proper foods and minimizing sugar intake are essential during orthodontic treatment. Your braces can be damaged by eating hard, sticky, and chewy foods.

  • Hard foods : Nuts, Candy, Hard Pretzels
  • Crunchy foods : Popcorn, Ice, Chips, etc.
  • Sticky foods : Gum, Chewy Candy (Skittles, Taffy, Gummy Bears, Caramel, etc.)
  • Chewy foods : Bagels, Hard Rolls, etc.
  • Foods you have to bite into : Corn on the Cob, Apples, Carrots (cut these foods up into smaller pieces and chew on back teeth)
  • Chewing on Hard Objects (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

Hard Foods

 

Soft Foods

 

Gummy Smile.Some people feel self-conscious about smiling because they believe their gums are too prominent. Though we each have our own definition of what makes a smile beautiful — including how much gum is too much — a smile will usually be perceived as “gummy” when 4 millimeters (just over an eighth of an inch) of gum tissue shows. If your smile looks gummy to you, it's important to figure out exactly what's causing this. Only then can the appropriate cosmetic dental or periodontal (gum) procedures be recommended to give you a more pleasing appearance of the gums and teeth.

Causes

Gummy smiles may be caused by one or more factors relating to the gums themselves, the teeth, or even the lip or jaw. Each of these areas will require a different approach to solving the problem. Let's look at some of the ways a gummy smile can be corrected:

Gums. If your teeth appear too short in relation to your gums, it could be that they are being covered up by too much gum tissue. This problem can be solved with a periodontal plastic surgery technique called “crown lengthening,” which involves removing and reshaping the excess tissue to expose the full length of teeth.

Teeth. There are natural variations in the tooth-eruption process that can result in shorter than normal teeth and gumminess of the smile. If that's the case, your teeth can be made to appear longer by capping (crowning) them or covering them with thin porcelain veneers. It's also possible that your teeth have become worn down over time, especially if you have a grinding habit. When this happens, it can cause what is known as compensatory eruption. To compensate for the wear and maintain a functional bite, the teeth actually begin to move (or erupt) very slowly outward from the gum. This makes the smile appear gummier because the gums, which are attached to the teeth, move with them as they erupt. In some cases orthodontic treatment can be used to move the affected teeth back up into correct position. Afterwards, the worn-down teeth would usually be restored with porcelain crowns or veneers.

Lip. On average, the upper lip moves 6 to 8 millimeters from its normal resting position to a full smile. If the lip is hypermobile, meaning it rises much farther up, more gum tissue will be revealed. Here the action of the muscles that control the lip will need to be modified so they don't raise it quite so high. Treatment can range from Botox shots that temporarily paralyze the muscles (for about six months), to surgery that permanently restricts how high the lip can move, referred to as a lip stabilization procedure.

Jaw. Sometimes the upper jaw (maxilla) is too long for the face, a condition referred to as Vertical Maxillary Excess. If this is the case, the jaw would need to be repositioned with orthognathic surgery (“ortho” – straighten; “gnathos” – jaw). Of all the treatment listed here, this one is the most complex — but it can achieve dramatic results.

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to correcting a gummy smile. However, there are various techniques that can achieve dramatic improvements.

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