Braces are devices used in Orthodontics to align and straightened teeth, in order to improve the way the teeth look and to create a nicer smile. They are also used to improve the total facial structure in the area of the jaw and mouth so your child will be less likely to have tooth decay, gum disease, and jaw problems, and also have better ability to chew. Braces may be made of metal (stainless steel) or clear "invisible" ceramic or composite brackets.
An orthodontist is a specially-trained dentist who straightens teeth (orthodontics) and alters bone growth in the jaw (dentofacial orthopedics). In addition to braces, an orthodontist may employ other appliances like headgear, palatal expander, fixed or removal habit appliance or retainers.
Crowns are full-coverage restorations that are used to cover a tooth that is likely to break, or is too broken down to be restored with a filling. They are most commonly done after root canal treatment, or when a large filling wears out. The larger the hole made by a cavity that has to be treated, the more likely a crown will be needed. Even after a filling is put in a large cavity, the tooth with the cavity is more likely to break. Keep in mind that the jaw muscles are the strongest in the human body. Teeth are subjected to tremendous pressures. Crowns ride over the weakened tooth, providing strength and protecting the tooth against breakage. A broken or cracked tooth is a far more serious matter and much more difficult to treat. Crowns prevent this, as well as making for a nice smile. Any decay is removed from the tooth and it is shaped to accept the crown. While most "permanent" crowns are made of high-strength porcelain over gold alloy, ceramic material, or gold, most children will have a stainless steel or porcelain-facing stainless steel crown to reduce the total cost of treatment on baby teeth (temporary crown).
TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. Temporal, as in the temple area of the skull; mandibular as in the mandible, or lower jaw; joint as in it's where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension. Aside from the two bones that meet there, cartilage buffers them and five muscles are involved in the area. If something goes wrong a good deal of trouble can result.
Problems in this area can cause:
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting the bite, filling gaps between teeth, etc. There is no one solution that is right for all cases. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that is contributing to the problem. If untreated and taken to extremes, surgery may be required to repair a badly damaged joint. Fortunately, the condition is rare among children.