It may come as a surprise if you or your child is referred to an orthodontist when there is no obvious need for braces. During the course of a regular dental visit, the dentist may find a problem that could be best taken care of by a specialist in teeth and jaw alignment. In these situations, the problem is not a cosmetic issue but may have an impact on your dental health, your speech, or even your overall health. Here are just a few things an orthodontist does besides straightening crooked teeth.
You may not think it is a big deal to have a young child lose a tooth before the second one is emerging. However, the teeth beside the empty space will shift and move, taking up some of this space. When the secondary tooth tries to come through it will be at least partially blocked. This may cause the adult tooth to shift back further into the mouth or turn as it comes up so that it will be crooked. An orthodontist will put a spacer where the missing tooth was to ensure the other teeth do not try to move into the spot.
Sometimes, your molars shift as your wisdom teeth start to push up. This shifting can cause the teeth to press against your cheeks, causing pain. In most situations, once the molars have moved completely and the wisdom teeth are through, they no longer rub your cheeks. However, until this time, you need something to protect your cheeks. An orthodontist will provide a bumper apparatus to protect your cheeks. A bumper can also provide relief to lips as the front teeth grow. If they are growing with a slight protrusion, a bumper will keep them from pressing against the lips and possibly cutting them a bit. Once the teeth have completely grown, they may not protrude at all, or you can have braces to correct the problem.
If you wore braces to correct crooked teeth, the teeth may start to shift back into place over time. If your dentist notices this happening, he will refer you to an orthodontist to have a removable retainer made. You will wear the retainer at night while you sleep to ensure your teeth stay where they need to be.
Seeing an orthodontist is only a step toward ensuring your teeth are positioned so you can eat and talk correctly. Sometimes this means wearing braces, but it may also be some other treatment or apparatus that is needed. Follow the professional's advice to help avoid future dental problems. For more information, contact a dental office like Donald E. Snyder Orthodontics.