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 following dental school, to learn the special 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
- 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
What are some signs that braces may be needed?
- OVER BITE – Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are “bucked”
- DEEP BITE – Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together
- UNDER BITE – Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth
- OPEN BITE – The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together
- CROSS BITE – The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
- Crowded or overlapped teeth
- The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
- Finger or thumb sucking habits
- Difficulty chewing
- Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
- 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. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by the family dentist or the child’s physician.
What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?
Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is to address jaw growth, shape and size. It 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.
If my child has early treatment, will additional treatment be necessary?
In most cases, yes. After the permanent teeth have erupted, treatment is usually necessary to place the permanent teeth in positions of optimal comfort, function, aesthetics, and long term stability.
Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Approximately 30 percent of our patients are adults.
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 heat-activated 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.
What are Bite Turbos?
Bite turbos are small amounts of acrylic bonded to the lower back teeth or behind the upper front teeth to prevent interference of upper and lower braces. They can also be used to help correct a deep bite.
Should I feel discomfort from Bite Turbos?
There may be tenderness on teeth, where bite turbos are placed, for a short time. When bite turbos are in place, your back teeth may not meet when you bite. This is normal and will change as teeth move. It can be difficult to eat and we suggest softer foods while your bite changes.
How long will I need Bite Turbos?
Bite turbos are in place 24 hours a day because they are bonded to the teeth. Most deep bites open with bite turbos within 6-9 months. The bite turbos are then removed.
How do I take care of my Bite Turbos?
No special care is required. Regular brushing is recommended. If a bite turbo comes off, this is not an emergency. Please call the office to schedule an appointment to have it replaced.
What are Heat Activated Archwires?
Heat activated archwires are the latest in orthodontic technology. They work with the warmth of the mouth. It causes the wires to tense on the teeth. Cold relaxes the wire so we recommend cold foods like ice cream, pudding or yogurt to relieve some tenderness for the patient.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is 22 months. 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 both 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 tenderness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two 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 provided in a variety of colors and patterns.
Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?
No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. Wax is provided to help prevent discomfort in the meantime.
Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?
ABSOLUTELY! It is important now than more than ever to continue with your regular six month checkups and cleanings.
What if I have a poking wire?
Using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax on it to alleviate the discomfort.
True orthodontic emergencies are very rare, but when they do occur we are available to you. You should call the office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We would be happy to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.
You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to temporarily solve many problems yourself until you schedule an appointment with our office. When working with your appliances, you need to know the names of the parts of your appliances so you are able to identify what part is broken or out of place. Please refer to the braces diagram for help if needed.
What if I have a loose or broken wire?
Using tweezers, try to place your wire back into place. If it is broken, or if using wax doesn’t help, use a nail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If your discomfort continues, call our office to set up and appointment.
What if I have a loose bracket or band?
If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it. Call the office to see if it is necessary to come in prior to the next scheduled appointment.
What if my appliance becomes loose?
If your appliance is loose or has come completely out, call the office to see if it is necessary to come in prior to your next scheduled appointment.
What can I do about general soreness?
When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, we recommend you take a non-aspirin pain reliever.
The lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can use your wax by rolling a small piece in your fingers to make a softened ball and place it on the offending bracket or wire. It may come off while you are eating or drinking.
What if I cannot make a turn on my expander?
The patient should make one adjustment each morning and one adjustment each night, unless otherwise prescribed. If you miss a turn, continue with the next scheduled turn and add one turn on to the end of your schedule. If you cannot find the slot to place the key in to make your next turn, call our office. We will schedule a time for you to come in so we can reset the expander for you. We will let you know if additional turns are needed based on the number of turns that may have been missed.
Should there be a space between my front teeth from my expander?
You may notice a space develop between the front teeth. This is normal. The space will gradually close after the key turning is stopped. You will need your appliance for nine months to one year to allow for stability of the correction.
Is it normal to have discomfort from my expander?
Some slight discomfort over the teeth, bridge of the nose and cheek bones may occur. A non-aspirin pain reliever can handle these minor discomforts.