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 is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

A more attractive smile
Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
Better function of the teeth
Improved self-confidence
Increased ability to clean the teeth
Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
Better long term health of teeth and gums
Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
Aid 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 excessively cover 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 the permanent teeth have erupted
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?

There is no age limit for orthodontic treatment. However, the appropriate timing of treatment in growing children is important in order to achieve the best results with the greatest efficiency. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early interceptive treatment may reduce the risks of problems such as impacted teeth and asymmetrical growth, and may reduce the need for jaw surgery. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist or the child’s physician.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

In some situations where early intervention is necessary before all the permanent teeth have erupted, orthodontic treatment may be divided into two phases. Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. palatal expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment typically occurs between the ages of seven and ten. This treatment is recommended when it is necessary to make more space for developing teeth, correct crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. The objective of Phase I treatment is to remove impediments to proper dental development and jaw growth. Sometimes this will eliminate the need for further orthodontic treatment later. In other cases, a second, comprehensive phase of orthodontic treatment (Phase II treatment) may be indicated to improve the alignment and fit of the remaining permanent teeth that have erupted after Phase I treatment has been completed. Phase II treatment typically involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.

Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. A beautiful and healthy smile benefits patients of all ages. Orthodontic treatment may also improve the outcomes of other dental treatments, or increase the types of treatment options available. Twenty to twenty five percent of orthodontic patients today are adults. Advances in technology have produced many highly esthetic options for orthodontic treatment, including invisible and hidden braces.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces use steady 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 pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment time can range widely, depending on the patient’s growth and development and severity of the problem. Actual treatment time can be affected by the rate of growth and by the amount of correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene, keeping regular appointments and diligent use of any prescribed elastic bands or other appliances are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

What are orthodontic appliances made of?

Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. Advances in technology have increased the sophistication, comfort, esthetics, and efficiency of braces. The newest orthodontic wires available today are made of titanium alloys. These wires use more gentle and consistent forces that result in better comfort and shorter treatment time. Advances in adhesive materials also facilitate the placement of braces and make the patient’s experience more comfortable and efficient. In addition, the customization of appliances, particularly invisible and hidden appliances, significantly improves esthetics and comfort, and reduces treatment time.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for a few days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the feeling of the braces on your teeth.

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 sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Special mouth guards, made just for braces, are available from our office.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

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.