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 of two to three years after four years of dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.
What are the benefits of orthodontics?
- A more attractive smile
- Increase in self-confidence
- Better function of the teeth and jaws
- Improved ability to clean the teeth
- Better long-term health of teeth and gums
- Optimizing other dental treatment
What are some signs that braces may be needed?
- Crowded, crooked, or overlapped teeth
- Upper front teeth completely cover the lower teeth when biting (deep overbite)
- Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth (overjet)
- Spaces between the teeth
- The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together (crossbite)
- The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
- Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
- Missing baby or permanent teeth
- Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
- The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
- Thumb- or finger-sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
- Difficulty chewing
At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?
Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. 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. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age seven, 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?
Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment 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, correct 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 11 and 13.
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, metal and ceramic, and clear aligners (trays) use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions.
Brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwires that connect them are the main components of the braces. The brackets act as handles on the teeth which the archwires attach to in order to generate tooth movement. As archwires are tightened, they continue to apply the pressure needed to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.
In clear aligner treatment, the clear aligners themselves, are the main components. Aligners are worn full time. A series of aligners is made, and new set of aligners is begun every 2-4 weeks. Each new set of aligners continues moving the teeth by applying the pressure needed 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 one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half 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, minimizing breakage, wearing elastics as instructed, and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
Do braces hurt?
The placement of brackets, archwires, and aligners on your teeth does not hurt. Once your treatment has begun and the teeth begin to move, you may feel some soreness of your teeth for two to three days. This discomfort can be managed by an over-the-counter pain reliever. Your lips and cheeks may also need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth. Soft nontoxic wax will be provided to prevent discomfort.
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. Specialty mouth guards made specifically for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment will be provided.
Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?
No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, soft nontoxic wax will 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. If any difficulty with general oral hygiene develops, more frequent visits may be recommended in order to protect and maintain the health of the teeth.