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What is orthodontics?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 dental specialist who works to prevent malocclusion (a misalignment of teeth or incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches) from occurring and to treat it.  An orthodontist utilizes a range of appliance such as braces, plates, headgears, and many other functional tools to help achieve treatment results.

Once an orthodontist completes the education to become a dentist, they then complete a full-time university-based advanced education program that typically lasts 24-36 months. This is different than continuing education in orthodontics that is available to the general dentists. This specialized education gives them the 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
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 overlapping teeth
The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
Finger- or thumb-sucking habits that  continue after 6 or 7 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. 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 (i.e. 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, 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.

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 1 to 2 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 in your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need 1-2 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.

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