Orthodontics is a division in dentistry which specialises in diagnosing, preventing and treating dental and facial irregularities.
If you have any of the following, you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment:
Orthodontics corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Crooked teeth and teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean, are at risk of being lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain. Teeth that are crooked or not in the right place can also detract from one’s appearance.
The traditional approach to orthodontics has been to focus on straightening teeth, particularly the top front teeth. The word orthodontics literally means “straight (ortho) teeth (-dontics)”. More recently, it has become known that there is a relationship between the health of the jaw joints, and the health of the bite (or the way the teeth fit together). If the bite and the joints are healthy, then there is also a tendency for the face to be more attractive overall, so there are some orthodontists who have, since about the year 2000, been practicing “full face orthodontics”.
Dr Baret has developed treatment approaches which have become the standard of care and he has trained with some of the best in orthodontics including Dr Derek Mahoney who is famous for his non-extraction, early intervention approach to orthodontics; Dr Robert Ricketts – the most prolific orthodontic researcher of the last 100 years and Dr John Mew regarding early intervention treatment and its advantages of non-extraction orthopaedic treatment over typical orthodontic treeatment.
As soon as a distortion is recognised, we advise on the best approach for treatment. With younger children, it is often too early for active correction of the distortion, so we start by treating the cause of the distortion. This phase of treatment, called ‘Orthotropic Treatment’ works on improving the local environment for growth. Orthotropic treatment involves correcting breathing function, treating any allergies affecting airway function, and correcting orofacial muscle function. Airway blockages can be cleared in various ways, depending on the exact cause, and the most conservative approach is always the preferred starting point, with a surgical approach being the last resort.
At age 6-7 years, the first stage of active correction of skeletal distortions can be commenced – this is dentofacial ‘Orthopaedic’ treatment. Dentofacial orthopaedics usually involves wearing some form of plate, which is used to apply the appropriate gentle pressure to the teeth and bones to correct the size, shape and relationships of the jaw bones. This does not necessarily put the teeth into ideal positions, however, it does set up the foundation for the next phase of treatment. During the Orthopaedic phase, the chiropractor will be working more closely with the dentist and the patient to correct any distortions in basic structural symmetry and balance, so that by the time the child is losing their last deciduous teeth and gaining their adult teeth, their physical structure is upright and well balanced.
Finally, the last phase of therapy is ‘Orthodontic Treatment’. This is where the teeth are positioned correctly, usually with braces. Orthodontics allows us to position the teeth very accurately to fit together in the best possible way, having already provided the best foundation. In this way, we can provide the right reflex input to the central nervous system, reducing strain in the muscles of the face and neck (oro-facial muscles) and thus minimising strain to the rest of the body from the occlusion. Correspondingly, the chiropractic treatment will be fine tuning and maintaining the balance of the rest of the body, to minimise stressful input to the occlusion.
The result is a situation where the healthy occlusion helps to protect the rest of the body, while a healthy body structure helps to protect the occlusion. This can only occur when there is symmetry and balance within the body’s structure, which allows balance within all functional segments of the body. This also produces what is recognised within and across all races as the most aesthetic appearance.
The first stage is modified to some extent. Orthotropics for adults often includes correction of TMJ disorders. Orthotropic treatment includes correction of airway problems, and any allergies affecting the airway. Breathing problems are also corrected with breathing exercise. If there is a TMJ disorder, then this is corrected during the Orthotropic phase, with splint therapy along with the correction of orofacial muscular dysfunction. If there is a problem with snoring and/or sleep apnoea, this is also attended to during this phase of treatment, and sometimes into the Orthopaedic phase.
The Orthopaedic and Orthodontic phases are very similar to those for children. Adults typically have problems of much longer standing than children. For this reason, it is often not possible to produce the classic ideal result. In such cases, we always achieve great improvement, and finish with a very healthy, stable and aesthetic result.
To book a consultation with Dr Baret, please call Integrated Dental Health on (02) 4708 7007.