Frequently Asked Questions about Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.
Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.