Mind & Body
Beyond Braces
7/4/2018 10:46:03 PM
Beyond braces

At the first mention of the word orthodontist or orthodontics, people’s minds automatically turn to the thought of braces. But did you know that orthodontists do much more than that? While braces tend to be their main practice, they actually perform many services that aim to properly align teeth and reposition the jaw. Dr. Robert Lamb, orthodontist with Oak Park Dental in Lake Charles, provides some insight on the variety of conditions orthodontics can remedy as well as the many tools of the trade. 

Space Maintainers 
It’s not uncommon for baby teeth to be lost earlier than normal. When this happens, space fillers may need to be put in to ensure that other teeth do not grow into the space meant for the missing tooth. "These space maintainers allow for more teeth to fall out and adult teeth to grow in without disruption,” said Dr. Lamb. A band, which is attached to one tooth, and a wire, which is extended to the tooth on the other side of the gap, work together to stretch and keep the space open. 

Much like braces, aligners help to straighten and align teeth. They are common in remedying underbites, overbites, open bites, cross bites, or crowding. In the industry today, most aligners are clear trays that allow for the gradual alignment of teeth while remaining virtually invisible to others. Dr. Lamb explains that these trays are tailor made to your teeth to mold your perfect smile.

Jaw Repositioning Appliances
Oftentimes called splints, jaw repositioning appliances are used to manipulate either the upper or lower jaw, or the jaw as a whole, to close more naturally. "This course of treatment is common in those with temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ,” says Dr. Lamb. Splints can often be used to treat injuries to the jaw as a result of car accidents, sports injuries, or other head trauma. Depending on the severity of the issue and the decided-upon course of treatment, splints may be worn around the clock or only at night. 

Palatal Expander
Palatal expanders create more space in a child’s mouth by gradually widening the upper jaw. While it sounds scary, it’s actually relatively easy to do and for the patient to tolerate. One of the benefits of receiving orthodontic treatment in childhood is that it allows for the orthodontist to take advantage of pre-pubescent bone structure. "Prior to puberty, the two separate halves that make up the upper jaw have not fused together,” says Dr. Lamb. "Before that happens, the two bones can be separated and stabilized gradually and gently.” 

Removable Retainers
Another course of treatment that you may be more familiar with, a retainer, is made to keep your orthodontist’s hard work from going to waste. After braces or aligning trays, a custom-fit retainer can be worn to keep teeth from shifting back to their original position. Depending on your needs, there are two options: a plate worn on the palate with a metal wire fitting against the front teeth, or a clear tray that fits around your teeth. More often than not, these retainers are worn at night only. 

As you can see, orthodontists have many ways of achieving a more beautiful smile. 

Oak Park Dental offers a variety of services to correct the alignment of teeth and positioning of the jaw. For more information, visit www.oakparkdental.com or call (337) 478-3232.
Posted by: Taylor Trahan Henry | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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