What about orthodontics?
If a dentist (who is similar to your family doctor) provides dental care such as check-ups and filling cavities; then an orthodontist is a specialist with two to three years of additional education, making them an expert in straightening your teeth and guiding their patient toward the treatment option that’s best for their situation. Here are a few more “need-to-know’s about orthodontics:
There are many qualified orthodontists to choose from in our area, but there are also many differences you should look into before choosing your orthodontist. These are the top 5 things you should know and consider before starting treatment.
1. Does The Orthodontist Employ Modern Technology and the Latest Techniques?
Orthodontics is much more than improving smiles and straightening teeth. Each patient is a unique case that requires an individual treatment plan. Today’s orthodontics have changed with technology that’s always improving. Ask the orthodontist about types of technology they employ and why it can benefit you. Also ask the orthodontist to explain the differences of old orthodontic techniques vs. the latest techniques.
2. Is the Staff Friendly and Positive?
When you walk into an orthodontists office for the first time, talk with the staff and ask questions about the practice. Was the office comfortable and modern? Do you feel welcome and at ease? Does the office staff seem happy, warm, approachable and friendly? The attitude of the orthodontist’s staff can offer real insight as to what kind of experience you might expect as a patient.
3. Is the Atmosphere Accommodating and Modern?
Look around the office when you visit an orthodontist. Is it clean, professional, modern and does it offer amenities or comforts you might expect to find only at home? Is there fresh coffee and bottled water available? Snacks? TV? Video games for the kids? Remember, you may be visiting this office for a couple of years, make sure it exceeds your expectations and is a place that offers you and your family an accommodating experience.
4. Are You Comfortable and Confident with the Orthodontist?
How did you feel when you first met the orthodontist? Was he/she confident and compassionate? Were they experienced and knowledgeable? Did you feel sales pressure? Do you trust them?
Did the orthodontist…
…answer questions thoroughly and patiently
…clearly explain the details of the treatment plan
…seem friendly, warm, knowledgable and compassionate
…work well as a team with the staff
…have many years of experience
…employ the latest technology and technique
…make continued education a priority
…make you feel pressured to begin treatment (if this is the case, RUN!)
5. Does The Orthodontist Have Great Online Reviews?
Today people will quickly share their experiences online via numerous social media networks. Make sure you spend a little time on the internet to find out more about an orthodontist before committing to a treatment plan. Read patient reviews and patient testimonials that can only be found outside of their own website. They can tell you a lot about what kind of experience and/or results you can expect.
For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. After your braces come off, no doubt you’ll feel more self-confident. But during your treatment, we want you to feel as comfortable as possible.
Treatment time typically ranges from one to three years, depending on the growth of the patient’s mouth and face and the severity of the problem that is being addressed. Patients grow at different rates and will respond variously to orthodontic treatment, so the time to case completion may differ from the original estimate. The patient’s diligent use of any prescribed rubber bands or headgear is an important factor in achieving the most efficient treatment. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take as few as six months.
What is the advantage of two-phase orthodontic treatment?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment is often recommended for children between the ages of 7 and 10 when there is some disruption in normal tooth eruption or jaw development. The first phase of treatment is considered “early” or “interventional” treatment and is designed to correct the disturbance and re-position the teeth for normal growth and development. This phase of treatment often corrects narrowness of the upper jaw, transitional crowding of the front teeth, functional shifting of the jaw, and habits like tongue thrusting or finger sucking. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an orthodontic screening around age 7. However, early (phase I) treatment is only recommended in about 5-10% of the patients we evaluate at this age. In most cases, growth and development is seen as normal and no intervention is required.
First Phase Treatment: Your foundation for a lifetime of beautiful teeth
The goal of early treatment is to develop the jaw size in order to accommodate all the permanent teeth and to relate the upper and lower jaws to each other. Ideal facial esthetics and orthodontic positioning of the teeth depend on balance between the upper and lower jaws. Children sometimes exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop.
Planning now can save your smile later
Some (phase I) treatments are aimed at reducing the discrepancy between the jaw positions and allow improved outcomes during comprehensive treatment (phase II). An upper and lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough can be recognized at an early age. If children after age 6 are found to have a jaw size discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. This early correction may prevent later removal of permanent teeth to correct overcrowding and/or surgical procedures to align the upper and lower jaws. Leaving such a condition untreated until all permanent teeth erupt could result in a jaw discrepancy too severe to achieve an ideal result with braces.
After the first phase of treatment, a normal developmental relationship has been achieved and the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt. Retainers are sometimes recommended to preserve the space and position achieved during the first phase of treatment. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement while final eruption of teeth occurs. Natural eruption with sufficient space allows the best positioning of the teeth to take place. A successful first phase will have improved the appearance of the teeth and created an unobstructed path for all of the teeth to erupt into the mouth.
Monitoring your teeth’s progress
At the end of most interventional treatments, only some of the permanent teeth have grown into place. In other words, all of the teeth are not in their final positions. It is necessary to wait until all of the permanent teeth have erupted into position before the bite and final alignment of the teeth can be evaluated. Occasionally, primary teeth (baby teeth) do not fall out on their own. When this occurs, permanent teeth may become impacted or severely displaced. Both increase the time, difficulty, and expense of orthodontic treatment. Therefore, periodic appointments to evaluate the growth and eruption of the teeth during this resting phase are in the patient’s best interest. Occasionally, selective removal of “over-retained” primary (baby) teeth is necessary to allow normal growth and eruption.
Second Phase Treatment: Stay healthy and look attractive
Final alignment of the teeth and bite correction are the goals of the second phase of treatment. We strive to create harmony between the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. Bite correction is important for several reasons: 1) Ideal positioning of the bite helps prevent accelerated tooth wear from functional interferences; 2) Ideal positioning of the bite reinforces the final positing of the teeth created during orthodontic treatment. What does this mean to you? Your teeth are more likely to remain healthy and straight throughout your life if you properly correct the way the teeth fit together and function.
Movement & Retention
It takes a lot of work and effort on everyone’s behalf to achieve a beautiful smile. A great smile is valuable and should be enjoyed for a lifetime. Nobody wants to see their teeth move or shift after treatment. However, throughout our lives, our teeth are programmed to achieve two goals: 1) teeth continue to erupt toward the opposing dental arch until they hit something; and 2) teeth move toward a position where forces are equally distributed among the teeth. As we age and our teeth and jaw joints wear, our teeth move to adjust to those changes. As a result, teeth can move at any age. In an ideal bite, both of those goals are met by all of the teeth, and so the teeth are happy where they live and are less likely to move over time. What does this mean to you! Bite correction and retainer wear are important! The more ideal your bite correction, the less likely your teeth are to shift and move over time. Uncorrected bites may require daily use of retainers indefinitely to prevent tooth movement from occurring after treatment. People with unstable bites or a high likelihood of relapse are good candidates for fixed bonded retainers. Bonded retainers are always in place and serve as insurance against unwanted tooth movement. There are some contraindications for bonded retainers, however, with proper care and maintenance, a bonded retainer can provide many years of worry free retention.
True orthodontic emergencies are very rare, but when they do occur we are available to you. As a general rule, 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’ll be able 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. After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions in your treatment plan.