What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed a 2-3 year accredited advanced 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
- Increased self-confidence
- Better function of the teeth
- Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
- Increased ability to clean the teeth
- Better long-term health of teeth and gums
- Guides permanent teeth into more favorable positions
- Reduced risk of injury to protruded front teeth
- Aids in optimizing other dental treatment
What are a few 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 Pediatric Dentistry 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. 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 (e.g., 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.
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 eleven and thirteen.
Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?
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 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 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.
How will braces affect my child’s day-to-day life?
Wondering how braces will impact your child’s ability to play sports or play an instrument? Will your child need to brush more frequently or avoid certain foods? Wondering how your child will still feel confident with their new look? Check out our Kid Concerns video for more information.
What is tongue thrusting, what are the effects and how can it be treated?
Tongue thrusting is a term used to describe when someone thrusts their tongue forward (or sideways) against the teeth or between the teeth during routine activity (swallowing, chewing, speaking, etc).
Although tongue thrusting may sound harmless, it can cause severe complications over an extended period of time. Here are some of the effects of tongue thrusting:
- Bite problems
- Speech disorders
- Tongue protrusion during periods of rest
- Trouble chewing and swallowing certain foods
- Increased amount of time to straighten teeth
If you suffer from tongue thrusting, don’t worry. There are a number of exercises you can perform to tame your tongue. Ask us at your next appointment or call our office to find out how you can alleviate the problem.
How can I treat canker sores?
Mix one-to-two tablespoons of Maalox with one-half tablespoon of Benadryl. Swish one teaspoon of the mixture around the affected area four times per day.
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.
What foods should I avoid while wearing braces?
Potential harm to your braces
Braces are attached to your teeth with an adhesive which normally will withstand the forces of eating. However, braces can be dislodges and wires bent or broken while eating certain food.
Foods to avoid:
- Ice: Chewing ice will destroy your braces
- Sticky food or candy: These foods (taffy, caramels, Tootsie Rolls, gummy bears, etc.) damage appliances by bending wires and pulling cement loose
- Hard food or candy of any kind: These foods (Jolly Ranchers, pizza crust, hard pretzels, beef jerky, popcorn, nuts, etc.) may do damage by bending wires, loosening cement under the bands or breaking the little brackets and tubes which are attached.
- Foods high in sugar content: These foods (cake, cookies, ice cream, etc.) should be avoided whenever possible. If you do eat them, please brush your teeth immediately. If it is not convenient to brush, then always rinse your mouth with clear water after eating sweet foods.
Remember, if you have any questions about dietary restrictions or good food choices, please ask!
What happens if we move during care?
Our orthodontic practice has patients transferring into and away from it, as people are constantly moving. Changing orthodontists in the middle of treatment requires planning. If you transfer into or out of our area, we will use our experience to try to make the transition a smooth one.
There are two important things to know about your transfer from one orthodontic office to another:
- The overall treatment usually will last longer than projected because the new orthodontist must do a complete evaluation of recent models and X-rays to get familiar with the new patient’s response to treatment adjustments.
- The total fees you pay the two orthodontists may be more than agreed upon at the beginning of treatment because of the expense of progress records, re-diagnosis and treatment planning.
If you transfer into our practice
One of our immediate goals is to keep your treatment moving along in a timely fashion. We will give you as much information as we can about the status of your treatment and determine what kind of diagnostic records are needed. We will ask your previous orthodontist to send us your beginning diagnostic records and a report describing your treatment. We will use this information to design a treatment plan to continue and finish your treatment.
If you transfer out of our practice
When you make your move, make contact with a new orthodontist right away to avoid treatment delay. When you check in with the new orthodontist your first objective is to decide if you are happy with them, or if you want to get a second opinion. If you are happy, the new orthodontist will request a transfer report from us.
Please feel free to telephone us after you have left our practice with any questions you may have. Our wish is for this experience to go as smoothly as possible.
What classifies as an “orthodontic emergency” and how can we solve the problem?
Even though you are careful, you still may occasionally do some damage to your appliances. We want our patients to be informed in recognizing problems that may occur and to understand how to solve them, at least temporarily, until it is possible to return to our office.
Loose band or bracket: If a band or bracket comes loose from the tooth, call our office for an appointment. While a tight band or bracket actually protects a tooth from decay, a loose band or bracket is extremely dangerous and decay under it occurs very rapidly. If the band or bracket is still attached to a wire, leave it in place and apply wax if there is discomfort. If the band or bracket comes completely out, place it in an envelope and call for an additional appointment.
Broken archwire: If a main archwire breaks (the one that goes all the way around the outside of your braces), call our office for an emergency appointment.
Loose wire: Try to place the wire back in tube using tweezers. Apply wax if there is any discomfort. Call for an appointment.
Poking wire: Sometimes a poking wire can be safely turned down so that it no longer causes you discomfort. Try to tuck the wire back in and out of the way with the blunt end of a toothbrush or some other object, or clip the wire with fingernail clippers. If you are unable to take care of a poking wire, apply wax and call our office for an appointment.
Lost tie-wire or elastic tie: This is not a real emergency, but please notify an assistant at your next appointment.
Soreness: Soreness during treatment is to be expected. Warm salt water rinses and Tylenol are helpful in relieving soreness.
Accidents involving teeth: Contact our office immediately, or contact your general dentist.
Please remember: If you are involved in contact sports, a regular mouthguard can be fitted over your braces for added protection.