What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program following dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.
What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?
- A more attractive smile
- Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
- Better function of the teeth
- Possible increase in self-confidence
- Increased ability to clean the teeth
- mproved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
- Better long term health of teeth and gums
- Guides permanent teeth into more favorable positions
- Reduces the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
- Aids in optimizing other dental treatment
What are some signs that braces may be needed?
- Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked
- Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
- Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
- The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
- Crowded or overlapped teeth
- The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
- Finger or thumb sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
- Difficulty chewing
- Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
- The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
- Spaces between the teeth
At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. This is the age at which the first permanent teeth begin to erupt in most children. An examination at this age does not always lead to treatment at this age. However, it allows the orthodontist to evaluate the position of the permanent incisors and molars, and plan the patient’s treatment timing accordingly. Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications.
What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?
Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, and underbites, or harmful oral habits. The primary objective of Phase I treatment is to correct some of the more severe problems early so that later comprehensive orthodontic treatment (Phase II) is less complicated and, in some cases, shorter in duration. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of ten and thirteen.
Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, more than 25% of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness, and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. No patient is "too old" to undergo orthodontic treatment. We have a variety of esthetic options and limited treatment options available for our adult patients.
How does orthodontic treatment work?
Braces use constant gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies gentle pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from twelve to thirty six months. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. However, things like frequently broken appliances, missed appointments, poor oral hygiene and poor cooperation can adversely affect treatment time.
Do braces hurt?
The placement of orthodontic appliances (bands and brackets) on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and the wires are inserted, you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to seven days. Your lips and cheeks may need some time to adjust to the braces on your teeth. You may use wax to relieve any discomfort the appliances may cause by rubbing against your lips and cheeks.
Will braces interfere with playing sports?
No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any contact sport. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and can be found in most major sporting goods stores.
Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?
Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist at least every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.
Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?
Removing teeth is sometimes (but not always) required to achieve the best orthodontic result. Straight teeth, a stable, functional bite and a balanced facial profile are some of the goals of orthodontic treatment. Occasionally, it is necessary to remove some teeth to reach these goals.
Will I have to wear retainers?
Yes. Orthodontics is a process of moving teeth through the bone into their new position. Following active orthodontic treatment, retainers will be used to maintain the new position of your teeth. Like all parts of the body, teeth are also constantly changing and adapting. Only conscientious retainer wear will keep your teeth straight for a lifetime.
How often will I have appointments?
Appointments are scheduled according to each patient's needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every 4 to 8 weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.
Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?
Yes. Once treatment commences, we will provide a comprehensive list of foods to avoid basically, nothing hard, sticky or chewy!). Some of those foods include: ice, popcorn, hard candy, gum, caramel and taffy. Most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces can be avoided by carefully following our instructions.