What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics (from Greek orthos “straight or proper”; and odons “tooth”) is the specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist with an additional 2-3 years of full-time post-Doctoral studying to specialize in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to achieve facial balance/harmony.
All orthodontists are dentists, however, not all dentists are orthodontists.
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.
How do you know if a person needs orthodontic treatment?
It is usually difficult to know if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Asking your general dentist is good reference, but we are the best resource since orthodontics and braces are all we do. The initial exam at Wilson Orthodontics is complimentary and hence, it only makes sense to schedule a consultation with us and we will be happy to give necessary recommendations.
Am I a candidate for orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile.
What are the signs or symptoms of orthodontic problems?
Although determining treatment needs is difficult for you to assess, the following may help in prompting you to seek Dr. Wilson’s advice.
Look at the teeth at any age. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps between your child’s teeth or overlapping teeth, orthodontic treatment is needed.
Bite all the way down, but keep your lips open so you can see the teeth. Do the front top teeth line up with the bottom? Do the top teeth protrude out away from the bottom teeth? Do the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth? Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth? These are all indicators for potential orthodontic treatment.
Look at the alignment of the jaws. Does the jaw shift off center during biting down? If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, it suggests a skeletal or jaw bone problem, which requires early orthodontic intervention.
These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.
What are some signs that braces may be needed?
- Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth (bucked teeth)
- 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
Why should malocclusions be treated?
According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems:
- Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
- Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping.
- Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear.
- Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.
Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile—it creates a healthier you.
At what age should an orthodontist see my child? Do all baby teeth have to fall out before initiating orthodontic treatment?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age seven. Hence all baby teeth need not be gone before initiating orthodontic treatment. In fact, early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early preventive/interceptive action and avoid more difficult treatment later. Early treatment also potentially prevents extraction of teeth which is needed in some cases if the teeth get very crowded. Again, since our initial consultation is complimentary, it helps to get a consult as soon as possible.
Can you be too old for braces?
No, age is not a factor. So long as the gums and bone which support your teeth are healthy, one can get orthodontic or braces treatment at any age. About 30% of our orthodontic patients are adults and that number is still growing!
What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?
- A more attractive smile
- Better function of the teeth
- Increase in self-confidence
- Increased ability to clean the teeth
- Improved 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 the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later.
When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, Dr. Wilson can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment if/when it is ideal.
Will orthodontic treatment hurt?
Orthodontic treatment mechanics have advanced technologically over the last few years. Introduction of new high tech wires, smaller braces, innovative accessories and stress of preventive/interceptive treatments make today’s orthodontic treatment fairly comfortable. We do not use anesthetic injections for any of the procedures. As a rule, braces can cause a little discomfort initially until one gets used to them. Teeth may be a little sore a day after every adjustment appointment but they are not painful. This annoyance can be relieved easily with over-the-counter pain relievers, if needed. Most of our patients do not need to take any pain relievers.
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 times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from 12 to 30 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. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
Can I still have braces if I have missing teeth?
Yes. When teeth are missing, adjacent teeth will drift into the empty space. This will cause a functional, aesthetic or periodontal problem. Orthodontic treatment will correct and prevent these problems from happening and will also provide proper alignment for your dentist to replace the missing teeth.
Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Nearly 30-35% of our patients today are adults.
When is the best time to begin orthodontics?
Though Dr. Wilson can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. 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. Thus, beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.
Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?
By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, Dr. Wilson can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors (front teeth) can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
What is Phase I (Early Interceptive Treatment) 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 seven and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. 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 11 and 13).
What is Full or Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment?
This is another name for orthodontic treatment in the permanent dentition at any age. It is more commonly used when a Phase I treatment was not performed.
Does everyone need a Phase I treatment?
Absolutely not! But in many cases early intervention helps. We will offer Phase I treatment only if it makes a difference in future. Otherwise we keep the patients for a complimentary recall consultation every six months.
What are the advantages of interceptive (Phase I) treatment?
Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:
- Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
- Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
- Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- Preserving space for unerupted teeth
- Reducing the need for tooth removal
- Reducing treatment time with braces
What is the length or duration of orthodontic treatment?
In our office, Phase I treatment usually lasts 12-14 months. Phase II or full braces treatment may last from 18 to 36 months. In both situations, we generally see the patients every 6 to 8 weeks for their adjustment appointment.
Treatment time and its success depends on multiple factors such as, age of the patient, the severity of the problem, the patient’s cooperation and the speed of natural response of teeth movement.
What are extraction and non-extraction therapy, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Extraction therapy is a technique where some teeth are removed to make room for the other teeth in your child’s mouth. This is in contrast to non-extraction therapy where one expands patients’ jaw and/or shaves some teeth to reduce their width to make everything fit. We will make a thorough evaluation at the consultation and discuss the options to determine which procedure best suits the patient.
What are the different types of braces?
There are different variations of braces you can choose from.
Metal braces are the most traditional type of braces. Patients love using different colors of ligature ties. These braces are much smaller than ever before.
Translucent clear ceramic braces are the most popular with adults. You have to be very close to someone to be able to see them. Yet, because they are a ceramic material, they are more fragile and have some limitations. We will discuss these choices of braces at the consultation appointment.
Clear aligners are becoming a very popular method of orthodontic treatment for adults who are candidates. They consist of a series of clear orthodontic appliances that allow you to straighten your teeth without having to wear traditional braces. Each set of custom-made aligners is worn for about two weeks and moves the teeth in small steps to the desired final position. However, all orthodontic patients are not candidates for this treatment option. For more information about ClearCorrect, please give our office a call to make an appointment for a complimentary exam to see if you are a candidate for this exciting new system.
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. We have many different sport specific mouth guards available.
Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments or singing?
No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment, which usually lasts for only a few days.
Is orthodontic care expensive? Do you have a payment plan?
Our innovative business model is very unique which makes braces or orthodontic treatment affordable.
We offer our patients a payment plan with the option of a low down payment and affordable monthly payments. We do not charge any interest. We have found that the initial down payment charged by traditional orthodontists is prohibitive to many hard working families especially with multiple family members who could benefit from orthodontic treatment.
Please call our office to discuss this affordable financial and start smiling!