Dr Lekha Menon is an Orthodontist in St Clair. She is a General Dentist who has been involved with orthodontics for a number of years. Dr Menon has accreditation for Invisalign (clear/invisible) braces treatment and is a member of the IAO ( International Association of Orthodontics).
What Is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a treatment aimed at correcting problems with the position and alignment of the jaws and teeth.
When Is The Best Time To Start Orthodontic Treatment?
We can carry out orthodontic treatment at any age. Still, we will get the best outcomes when treating growing children and help guide the growth of the face to prevent more complex orthodontic problems from developing.
There is more to orthodontic treatment than just straight teeth. Other treatments that do more than straighten teeth are;
- Dental orthopaedics,
- Functional jaw orthopaedics,
- Face-centred orthodontics, and
- Growth guidance orthodontics.
We all want to look great, even when we're not grinning and showing our teeth, so correct facial development is critical. Changing the size, shape and position of the jaws is possible with modern techniques.
Orthodontic Treatment In St Clair - What Do We Provide?
The orthodontic treatments we offer in our St Clair office range from simple removable appliances or "plates" to modern fixed braces, either clear or metal.
We also offer treatment with clear aligner systems such as Invisalign.
We provide orthodontic treatment for young adults and for growing children (interceptive) with appliances removable or fixed such as the Growth Guidance Appliance and the use of controlled arch braces.
Braces can be metal or clear (ceramic) depending on the case.
Treatment times can vary from a few months to several years, depending on the severity of the problem and the age of the patient.
What Is The Advantage Of Early Orthodontic Treatment For Growing Children?
To keep the need for braces treatment, extraction of permanent teeth to a minimum early intervention is vital. Best of all, your child will end up with a better looking and more stable orthodontic result.
Orthodontic assessment should be considered at age 7-8 or earlier if there is an obvious problem. During your child's routine check-up, we can assess the dental and facial development and look for causes of adverse facial growth.
For normal facial growth to occur in a child we need to have:
- Nasal breathing all the time except during strenuous exercise.
- Lips together most of the time.
- Correct tongue position.
- No adverse habits such as thumb or finger sucking.
What Are The Causes Of Orthodontic Problems?
To understand why early treatment is so essential, we need to look at the causes of orthodontic problems.
Many of these problems result from failure or deviation of standard growth patterns. These growth problems are not just affecting the teeth - they are affecting the whole face. Dental and facial growth are all part of the same process, as our face develops around our most important facial function - breathing!
We are all born to breathe through the nose, but if the nose is blocked, we have a second option - breathing through the mouth. While this second option keeps us alive, if it becomes the dominant mode of breathing, especially during the growing years, it can have disastrous effects on the development of the face.
What Medical Conditions Tend To Be Related To Orthodontic Problems In Children?
The most common problem is upper airway blockage (nasopharyngeal incompetence). This could be from allergies, chronically enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids, or other issues in the nasal cavity that restrict the airflow and often need to be assessed by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist.
When a growing child does not breathe through the nose, but through the mouth, the growth pattern changes, and the child develops some or all of the following:- forward head posture, long narrow face, sunken cheeks, dark rings under the eyes, receding chin, open mouth posture.
The ear, nose and throat specialists have recognised this for years - the medical term "adenoidal facies" is found in medical textbooks. Inside the mouth, the result of this growing problem is crowded and misaligned teeth, a mismatched bite relationship, narrow palate, gum problems and a higher risk of decay due to mouth breathing.
How Do We Treat The Causes Of Orthodontic Problems?
When the causative factors in the orthodontic problem have been established, a plan can be formulated to help correct them.
This may involve:
- Specialist treatment to correct the nasal obstruction, such as having tonsils/adenoids removed, or treatments to help with the allergies.
- Simple functional orthodontic appliances can then be used to correct habits and encourage healthy nasal breathing patterns, or treatment may involve growth guidance or expansion appliances in the mouth to develop the jaws to their correct dimension.
The correct development of the upper jaw is critical. That's because the upper jaw bone is the same bone that contains all the nasal passages. A constricted and underdeveloped upper jaw leads to the same problem with the nasal passages.
So it makes sense to assess the growing face and not only the teeth.
A treatment plan to get normal growth of the face is essential. We need to remove the cause(s) of the problem as soon as we can. If you leave the issues untreated, the unwanted growth continues. Then the resulting tangle of teeth becomes more complex to unravel.
Come and see your local Orthodontist in St Clair as soon as possible. Don't wait until all the permanent teeth have come erupted in the wrong places. Or until the face has developed all out of shape.
Orthodontic Treatments That Straighten The Teeth Of Adults?
It is never too late to have straight teeth. Orthodontic treatment in adults can be done in exactly the same way as in children, and it is possible to develop and change the position of the jaws in adults, but many adult patients are unwilling to commit to lengthy treatments with fixed braces.
With this in mind, the dentists at Your Healthy Smile can provide adults with orthodontics, or Invisalign which are systems using a sequence of clear aligner appliances. Some pre-treatment may be required, but this can be done with appliances hidden on the inside of the teeth.