Orthodontics literally means “straight teeth,” but the truth is that orthodontics offers many advantages beyond straight teeth. It helps keep teeth healthy and strong, reducing the risk of wear or damage. It can even protect your overall health by improving nutrition and reducing gum disease.

Orthodontics is also not just something that people get when they’re teens. There are many orthodontic approaches that can help ensure healthy, straight teeth for life. Whether you’re concerned about the developmental health of your newborn child–or grandchild–or are looking to straighten your teeth, there is an orthodontic treatment that can help at any stage of life. 

young girl showing off her smile with traditional metal braces

The Basic Principle Behind Orthodontics

All orthodontics relies on the same basic principles. 

Our bones can change in response to regular pressure. Every time a tooth experiences pressure, it stimulates the body to build, retain, or remove bone. Controlling that pressure controls the shape of bones around the teeth, and that determines the location and orientation of the teeth.

In natural, healthy development, balanced pressure between the cheeks, tongue, jaw muscles, and teeth helps the jaw to grow into its proper size and shape. The teeth occupy their position in straight rows in the top and bottom jaws. Our orthodontic approaches help to achieve the same goal. We choose to guide the natural processes when possible and supplement them when necessary. 

Tongue Tie Release: Your Child’s First Orthodontic Option

We know that most people don’t think about tongue tie release as an orthodontic treatment, but helping jaw and tooth development is one of the tongue’s vital functions. When the tongue has restricted movement, it can’t perform this function.

When a child has tongue tie, the tongue is unable to push outward enough, so the inward pressure of the cheeks dominates. This can lead to poor jaw development and crowded, crooked teeth. In the future, they might also experience other troublesome conditions when they get older, including sleep apnea and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).

Tongue tie release is important to helping your baby thrive, and it sets them up for a lifetime of healthy development. 

OMT: Establishing Healthy Habits for a Lifetime

Just because someone is capable of doing something doesn’t mean they will do it. It’s true for adults and it’s certainly true for children. While releasing tongue tie or having a naturally free tongue sets the conditions for healthy tooth and jaw development, many people develop unhealthy habits when chewing, swallowing, or resting that hamper development.

For children, this might be thumb sucking, tongue thrust, or an unhealthy resting position of the lips or tongue. These keep the facial tissues from providing the appropriate pressure and stimulation of the teeth and jaw.

We describe this as an orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD), and it’s what orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) seeks to correct. It teaches healthy habits that encourage proper development on a daily basis. With exercises and the occasional use of removable oral appliances, OMT helps lips, cheeks, and tongue do the developmental work we need from them.

Since bad habits affect people of all ages, OMT is an orthodontic approach that might help school-age children or adults of any age. 

Early Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment

OMT can provide an important course correction on development. However, sometimes this isn’t enough to ensure proper development, or we might be too late to head off problems with OMT alone. In these cases, we might recommend early interceptive orthodontic treatment.

Early interceptive orthodontic treatment uses devices like removable appliances to encourage growth of the jaw, making room for adult teeth as they emerge. This can reduce or eliminate the need for more complicated and invasive orthodontic treatment later. In addition, it can help to head off breathing disorders and cosmetic concerns like a recessed chin. 

Braces: A Well-Established Method for Tooth Movement

Late in development, by the time a person reaches their teens or adulthood, the best approach for achieving the results you want might be to utilize external forces to move the teeth into place. Braces have been used for hundreds of years to achieve this effect. Th means that we know how to accurately get good results with them.

Using brackets and wires, braces apply steady force to teeth that causes them to move. Braces may not look great, and they can be a little uncomfortable, but they get the job done. Braces can achieve significant tooth movements that other approaches might not be able to match.

Invisalign and ClearCorrect: Comfortable, Convenient, and Subtle

Invisalign and ClearCorrect try to improve on some of the limitations of traditional braces. Instead of metal brackets and wires, Invisalign and ClearCorrect use clear plastic aligners. You wear a series of aligners designed by computer to achieve the ideal tooth movements. These aligners are removable, so it’s easier to clean your teeth, and you don’t have diet restrictions. Plus, the aligners are nearly invisible.

This combination of benefits leads many adults to choose this type of orthodontic treatment. 

Orthodontic Treatment in Fort Atkinson, WI

You’re never too young or too old for orthodontic treatment. It’s just a question of deciding what treatment–if any–might be appropriate to your situation. If you want to learn more about what orthodontic approach might be right for you or your child, please call (920) 563-7323 or use our online form to request a consultation at BKS Dental in Fort Atkinson, WI.