Dr. Zellmann, it’s no fun having crooked teeth, is it?
(laughs) No, not really. And there are three good reasons for not learning to live with them.
Firstly, it’s harder to keep irregular teeth clean and in the long term they can damage the mandibular joint and the teeth as a whole. Sometimes the entire skeletal system, especially the cervical vertebrae, can be affected. In addition, if crooked teeth don’t meet, it‘s impossible to chew food properly in the mouth – and that’s where the digestion process begins, after all.
Secondly, a fine set of teeth simply looks nicer. Not only a film star’s smile requires perfect teeth. And, thirdly, there is so much you can do to correct irregular teeth.
How do you mean?
Before they came to our practice, many patients were driven to despair when they looked at their crooked teeth in the mirror first thing in the morning. They simply couldn’t imagine that an orthodontic specialist could do anything about them. But in most cases we can – all you need as a patient is a little patience, because orthodontic treatment doesn’t work overnight.
What does orthodontic treatment involve?
Traditionally it meant stimulating the growth of the jaw. Nowadays we tend to talk about orthodontics, which is the movement of the teeth on the jaw. In other words, an orthodontist "pushes" the crooked teeth back into the right position. That sounds much easier than it is in practice, because normally the teeth are stably positioned at the point where they have grown out of the jaw.
So an orthodontist is not there just to help people who want to become “superstars”?
No, of course not. As I already said, the medical indication, in other words orthodontic treatment, is particularly important on medical grounds. We can realign crooked teeth in adolescents, for instance. In adults, orthodontists can remedy the consequences of teeth migration caused by periodontitis. We can also help by straightening up tilted teeth and filling gaps. Sometimes it’s only then that a bridge or an implant can be correctly produced.
But if somebody wants to become a “superstar” with an enchanting smile, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t contact you either, is there?
No, none at all. In many cases you can see that stars like the swimmer Franziska van Almsick and the actor Tom Cruise have undergone orthodontic treatment. There’s plenty we orthodontists can do in aesthetic terms to conjure up a broad smile. That often gives our patients more self-confidence and self-assurance and, above all, a positive attitude to their own teeth. After all, you take care of what is important to you and look after nice things.
What does orthodontic treatment look like in practice? What do you need?
As I said a moment ago, you need patience more than anything else. We mostly work with fixed appliances that are attached to the outer or inner side of the teeth. They may well be tooth-coloured brackets with highly elastic wires. If braces are fixed to the inner side of the teeth, realignment takes place completely out of sight. Removable braces – aligners, as they are called – are virtually invisible and can also be used, depending on how irregular the teeth are.
Since orthodontic treatment is mostly very individual in nature, it always makes sense for patients with misaligned teeth to come and visit us in the practice. Once a diagnosis has been made, we can recommend a form of treatment that is tailor-made for the patient.