Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that corrects jaws and/ or teeth that are positioned improperly. Crooked, crowded and even spaced teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean and are at risk of being lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Teeth that are crooked or not in an ideal place can also detract from one’s appearance. Poorly positioned teeth can lead to an improper bite which causes extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ pain, or pain in your neck, shoulder, and back. The benefits of orthodontic treatment include a healthier mouth, a more pleasing appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime. Orthodontics can also be used to help with procedures such as cosmetic dentistry or implant dentistry, where space may need to be added or eliminated. Dr. Richter and her team also identify and treat patients suffering from oral myofunctional disorders with oral myofunctional therapy which corrects lips, face, and tongue dysfunctions that may contribute to airway, sleep, dental, or skeletal issues.

In young children, Phase I (or Early Intervention) orthodontic treatment helps to guide proper jaw growth. By assisting the upper and/or lower jaws in growing to a more ideal size, permanent tooth eruption can occur easily— which prevents surgical extractions of permanent teeth. In some cases, Phase I orthodontics can help develop the dental arch sizes to help patients with airway issues by creating added tongue space. If the jaw size is too small and permanent teeth are allowed to erupt without Phase I orthodontic intervention, some dental specialists will recommend removing adult teeth. This can constrict the mouth, leading to chronic TMJ pain and/or sleep breathing disorders later in life.

In adults and adolescents, another field of ortho called physiologic orthodontics can help relieve pain in patients who have suffered for years! The orthodontics offered at Lake District Family Dentistry uses computer technology to help determine some patients’ ideal physiologic jaw position, and the teeth can be moved into that position. Headaches, clenching, grinding, neck pain, and even shoulder pain can be eliminated for good. Dr. Richter is passionate about our AIRWAY AND HEALTH focused orthodontic department because she focuses on the entire patient— the overall health of the patient, the facial aesthetics of the patient, and of course, the smile!