Orthodontics

Why is orthodontics important?

An attractive smile and improved self-image is just one of the benefits of orthodontic treatment. Alleviating and preventing physical health problems is just as important. Without treatment, orthodontic problems can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction, chewing and digestive difficulties, speech impairments, tooth loss and other dental injuries.

What is malocclusion?

The technical term for teeth that do not fit together correctly is 'malocclusion'. Most malocclusions are inherited, however, it is possible to acquire a bad bite from habits such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking. The premature loss of baby teeth or the extraction of adult teeth can cause the development of malocclusion. Inherited malocclusions are usually caused by difference between the size of the teeth and the size of the jaw structure. Whether inherited or acquired, malocclusions affect not only the alignment of the teeth, but also the appearance of the face.

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. 

What is TMJ?

TMJ Dysfunction is a condition of the jaw that occurs when the Temporo Mandibular Joint is misaligned or malfunctioning in a way that subjects the joint to excess pressure. TMJ can seriously affect how your mouth works and often includes side-effects such as blocked nasal passages, neck pain, headaches and difficulty chewing. 

What is the appropriate age for a child to begin orthodontic treatment?

Though orthodontic treatment can be started at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all patients be seen for an orthodontic examination by age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications.

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, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding, or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile. Many severe problems can be prevented from fully developing by initiating early orthodontic treatment (age 7 to 9 years old).

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, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.

What is Phase I treatment?

Interceptive or early treatment is initiated at 7 to 9 years of age for severe bite problems. Some problems must be treated at a younger age to produce the best orthodontic result. If a severe problem is delayed to a later age a complete correction may not be possible. Early orthodontic treatment can sometimes avoid extractions of permanent teeth and can produce a more stable result. Phase I treatment is typically for 12 to 18 months followed by retainers for several years until all permanent teeth erupt. Most patients require Phase II (full braces) at approximately age 12 to finish the correction of the bite problem.

What is Phase II Orthodontic treatment?

Sixteen new permanent teeth will have erupted between the age of 10 to 12 years old. At approximately age 12 Our office specialist will recommend complete diagnostic records to determine the extent, method, and costs of Phase II treatment. The extent of Phase II treatment can range from new retainers up to full braces for one to two years to finish correction of the bite problem.

Am I too old for orthodontics?

About 25% of orthodontic patients today are adults. Many adults are correcting problems that were never treated when they were children, and can now experience the satisfaction of a perfect smile. Many patients think that teeth cannot be moved with adult patients. This is definitely not true. In fact, in many cases they move even better, because adults tend to be more cooperative than some of our younger patients.

How long will I have to undergo orthodontic treatment?

Many factors determine length of treatment, such as bite problem, response to treatment, and cooperation on the part of the patient. You may be surprised to hear that age is not a major factor. Although, some minor tooth movement can be resolved in less than a year, complex cases may need two or three years for completion.

Will braces hurt?

Our office is using the most current technology for orthodontic movement of teeth. These latest technological advances have made treatment more comfortable for patients. The orthodontic braces are smaller and smoother, plus gentle wires provide continuous light forces over a longer period of time. Typically, most orthodontic patients experience some discomfort the first week after their braces are put on, and right after the braces are tightened. Over the counter pain relievers can be taken for sore teeth.

Will I still be able to play sports?

Yes. 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 an exciting variety of colors and patterns. We have complimentary mouth guards available in our office that will work well with braces. In fact you could get a mouth guard to match your school colors.

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.

Are retainers necessary and how long will I have to wear one?

A retainer is a device worn full or part-time after braces have been removed. The retainer is designed to prevent your teeth from drifting or moving while the bone around your teeth hardens and stabilizes. However, you have to know that throughout life your teeth are always moving, even if you have never had braces. It happens more in some people than others. For this reason, we recommend wearing retainers as long as you can. Usually we have patients wear retainers full time for six to twelve months and then on a night time basis.

What is Surgical Orthodontics (orthognathic surgery)?

Surgical orthodontics are recommended for adult patients and some teenagers with severe skeletal deformities. Sometimes the jaw position is so far off from normal that conventional orthodontic care cannot correct the skeletal deformity. Surgical orthodontics is done in combination with full banded orthodontic care. Surgery of the jaw structure usually occurs during the middle of comprehensive orthodontic treatment approximately one year after the braces are applied to the teeth.