What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontics treats any type of malocclusion, or bad bite, meaning your teeth, lips and/or jaws do not line up properly.
Why choose an orthodontist for treatment instead of a general or pediatric dentist?
All orthodontists are dentists, but only about six percent of dentists are orthodontists. An orthodontist has been specially trained to diagnose and treat dental and facial irregularities. An orthodontist must complete four years of dental school plus at least two or three more academic and clinical years of advanced specialty education in an American Dental Association-accredited program. During this program, an orthodontist learns the complex skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development. Because of the extensive training and concentration on orthodontics specifically, an orthodontist is better prepared and has more experience in perfecting the overall care and treatment of orthodontic patients.
What is the importance of orthodontics?
An attractive smile and improved self-image are just some of the benefits of orthodontic treatment. In general, crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. Without timely and appropriate orthodontic treatment, orthodontic problems can lead to tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, and eventual tooth loss. An improper bite can also cause abnormal wear of the tooth surface, difficulty chewing, speaking, and/or dental injuries. Without orthodontic treatment, many orthodontic problems worsen over time. Orthodontic treatment may prove less costly than the additional dental care required to treat more serious problems in the future.
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 (under bite)
- The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
- Crowded or overlapped teeth or when the center of the upper & 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?
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child visit an orthodontist by at least age 7, however, orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. While your child's teeth may appear to be straight, a problem may exist that only an orthodontist can detect. Some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed or completed. 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 and/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 cross bites, overbites, under bites, 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 move teeth gradually into their proper position. The brackets we place on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components, along with rubber bands worn and changed by the patient. When we place the archwire into the brackets, the wire tries to return to its original shape. As it does, the wire applies pressure along with the rubber bands to move your teeth to their new, more ideal position.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Although every patient's orthodontic case is different, generally speaking, patients wear braces from one and half to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by patient's rate of growth, severity of the problem being corrected and how well the patient follows Dr. Engel's instructions. Also, maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
Do braces hurt?
Applying bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Most patients experience some discomfort for several days after their orthodontic appliances are first put on, and after their orthodontic appliances are adjusted at each regular visit. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth. Adult patients may experience slightly longer periods of 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. We offer inexpensive, comfortable mouthguards that come in a variety of colors.
Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?
Definitely! You should continue to see your general dentist every four to six months for cleanings and dental check-ups.
How much will orthodontic treatment cost?
The cost of treatment depends on the severity of the patient's problem. At your initial exam, you will be able to discuss fees and payment options. We also accept assignment from most orthodontic insurance plans and file the necessary paperwork with your insurance company. We work diligently to make orthodontics affordable for our patients.
Are you ever too old for orthodontic treatment?
No. Age is not a factor. Teeth will move no matter the age of the patient. About 20-25% of our orthodontic patients are adults; however, there are some advantages to treating young people while they are still growing. For example, some orthodontic conditions can be treated non-surgically for growing adolescents rather than corrected with jaw surgery in adulthood.