Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in braces for both children and adults. Orthodontists have completed dental school, just as your family dentist, but have also had additional training (called a residency) for an additional 2 to 3 years. During their residency the orthodontist learns not only about placing braces on teeth but also studies the growth and development of the jaws. From their background, orthodontists can determine developing bite problems at very early ages.
- A more attractive smile
- Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
- Better function of the teeth
- Possible increase in self-confidence
- 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
Below are some of the more common signs that orthodontics 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 6 or 7 years old
- Difficulty in chewing
- Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
- The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
- Spaces between the teeth
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child visit an orthodontist by age 7, or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, family dentist or the child's physician. Although only a few of the patients need treatment at this time, the orthodontist can often improve improper growth and prevent future problems. For some of these problems early intervention is essential for a good result. Should your child not be ready for treatment the orthodontist will monitor growth and development on a regular basis.
Phase I, or early intervention 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 6 and 10. 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 11 and 13.
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.
Braces apply 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, keeping regular appointments and good elastic wear are all important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
Orthodontic fees will vary depending on the complexity of the bite problem. Bites with more severe problems usually require additional treatment time and therefore more fees than a less complicated bite. Because of so many differences each case is evaluated independently. Fees can usually be estimated at the initial visit. During the consultation appointment our staff will go over fees in more detail and devise a payment plan which best meets your needs.