Orthodontic treatment is a way of straightening or moving teeth, to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work. It can also help to look after the long-term health of the teeth, gums and jaw joints, by spreading the biting pressure over all the teeth.
The way that our teeth bite together is called the occlusion. People who have teeth that don’t bite together evenly have a malocclusion. How straight our teeth are is often inherited from our parents. It can also be caused by the early loss of milk teeth, accidents or thumb sucking.
You may have upper front teeth that stick out, or you may find the way your upper and lower jaws meet leads to an incorrect bite and makes your teeth look unsightly.
Orthodontic treatment usually involves wearing a brace (appliance). This puts gentle pressure on specific teeth to move them into the right place and usually takes one to two years, depending on the severity of the problem. During this period, your orthodontist will need to monitor you closely and make adjustments to the brace.
Teeth straightening is usually carried out in childhood. Malocclusions can be successfully corrected in adults but the treatment may take longer. To get the best results from orthodontic treatment, you need to wear the brace as instructed, go to all of your appointments and take special care of your teeth.