Orthodontics for Children
There a number of methods orthodontists can use in children to straighten their teeth. Simple problems can often be fixed with a removable appliance (“plate”), and more complex problems with braces, functional orthodontic appliances (for growth modification), and perhaps jaw surgery for the most complex problems. The main aims are usually to make teeth straighter, but also to correct the bite.
Apart from crowding of the teeth (which is the most usual problem), braces can correct impacted teeth, and make space for missing teeth to erupt or be replaced, as well as improve the bite.
Braces are the most effective way to move teeth in children and teenagers, and a good result can usually be obtained in 18 to 20 months.
Orthodontics for Adults
Increasingly braces for adults are an option to align teeth. Braces can also be used to align teeth before other dental work, such as implants or bridges, to give a better and more stable result. Where aesthetics are a concern, ceramic braces may be a good cosmetic option.
Adults are more likely to consider jaw surgery for major correction of jaw disharmony, not just for cosmetic work, but also to improve function (chewing, speech, and reduction in tooth wear).
In some children and teenagers, it may be possible to modify jaw growth either to make more space for the teeth, or to modify jaw growth in a favourable way. This can done with the use of functional appliances which can be a type of removable appliance or sometimes a cemented in (fixed) appliance. Many of these appliances incorporate an expansion device to make the jaw wider.
Not all growth issues can be corrected with functional appliances, but sometimes their use can reduce the need for braces or even jaw surgery.
These appliances only work in growing children.