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
- 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 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?
Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. 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. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed, but not all orthodontic problems require early treatment. Only an evaluation by an Orthodontic Specialist can determine if early intervention is required. It is always better to be “too early” especially for your “peace of mind.”
What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?
Two Phase Orthodontic treatment is typically used on younger children with the more severe orthodontic problems where waiting for all permanent teeth to come in may compromise the treatment results. Treatment is broken into two steps: Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (e.g., expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment is dependent on the age the permanent teeth are actually coming into the mouth, usually between the ages of seven and ten. This treatment is focused on “Putting Nature on a Better Path.” It is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. The Phase II portion of treatment is then done once all the permanent teeth have come in and is the “finishing” process. It typically involves full braces, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.
For more information on Two Phase Orthodontic Care, see Two Phase Orthodontics – Why Braces Twice? on this site.
Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?
Absolutely, orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Twenty to twenty-five percent of orthodontic patients today are adults.
How does orthodontic treatment work?
Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The method of applying this force may vary (e.g., braces, Invisalign), but how it works is the same. The appliance or brackets are placed on your teeth with a very light continuous force directed toward the position we want the tooth to be. The body, in its attempt to relieve this light force, adjusts the biologic support around the teeth allowing the teeth to move toward, and eventually occupy, 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 one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
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 one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.
Will braces interfere with playing sports?
No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouthguard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouthguards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.
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 every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.