1. When should my child see an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth in most children have erupted, allowing us to effectively evaluate your orthodontic condition. Early treatment helps us recognize potential growth problems early and correct them before they become more serious. Early intervention makes the overall orthodontic treatment easier, faster and more affordable. If full orthodontic treatment isn’t yet indicated, periodic appointments may be necessary to anticipate the best time to begin treatment.
2. How can I tell if my child needs to see an orthodontist?
There are many indicators that may suggest that your child should see an orthodontist, including:
- Thumb/finger sucking
- Mouth breathing (instead of breathing through their nose)
- Premature or late loss of primary teeth
- Extra teeth
- Missing teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Cross bite
- Open bite
- Protruding upper teeth
- Gaps between teeth
- Bite doesn’t match properly
3. Why is orthodontics important?
The most visible benefit of undergoing orthodontic treatment is the improved appearance and self-esteem that comes from a straight, beautiful smile! Having a beautiful smile can help a patient look and feel better about themselves, which can have a significant impact on every aspect of their life. Straight teeth aren’t just more attractive – they’re also easier to clean. Teeth in proper alignment offer little to no room for food particles to become trapped and turn into enamel-degrading plaque and caries. In addition, having teeth that are properly aligned can restore jaws to their proper position, offering benefits for such far-ranging symptoms as jaw popping, jaw and chewing pain, migraines and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
4. Can I be assured that all instruments are sterilized and that there is adequate infection control?
Yes! We take pride in using the most advanced sterilization techniques developed by the Centers of Disease Control, the American Dental Association, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure your health and safety. We closely monitor the effectiveness of our sterilization techniques and make adjustments as necessary.
5. What are orthodontic records?
We utilize orthodontic records as a tool to help us evaluate and diagnose potential orthodontic problems to create a personalized treatment plan to meet your individual needs. The records appointment takes about 45 minutes. Such records include:
- Photographs of your teeth, smile and face
- Panoramic X-rays to recognize missing teeth or abnormal/damaged tooth roots
- Cephalometric X-rays to capture a profile view of your facial growth
- Plaster models/Impressions of the teeth
6. How much do braces cost?
It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have examined you. We will cover the exact cost and financial options during the initial examination. We offer up to 100% financing through a third party and we also offer “in-house” interest-free financing (includes an initial down payment with monthly installments) as an option. We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit and file your claims.
7. Will insurance pay for orthodontic care?
If your insurance covers orthodontic treatment, you will receive the benefit of reduced personal costs. Many insurance policies have a lifetime orthodontic benefit that is distinct from regular dental insurance. Remember that insurance policies vary, and we will review your insurance to determine the appropriate course of action. Once treatment has started, we will file your claims. Please remember that orthodontic insurance is a benefit for you or your child. If, during the course of treatment, your benefits change, the financially responsible party is accountable for all charges.
8. Do braces hurt?
Generally, braces do not “hurt.” After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, patients do not feel any soreness at all! We often remind our patients, “It does not have to hurt to work!”
9. How long will I have to wear braces?
Treatment time obviously depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment times range from 12 to 30 months. The “average” time frame a person is in braces is approximately 22 months.
10. Should I continue to see my general dentist while in braces?
Yes! Regular checkups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.
11. Will I be able to play sports?
Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports. We have mouth guards available in our office that work well with braces for no charge.
12. Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?
No. As you get used to having braces and practicing with them, they typically will not interfere with playing your instrument.
13. Are retainers necessary and how long will I have to wear one?
Retainers are designed to keep teeth in the position obtained by wearing braces. They help prevent your teeth from shifting and to stabilize the bone and tissue around your teeth into their new position. Generally, patients will wear their retainers full time for a minimum of three months and then on a as needed basis, but not less than one night a week. The longer you wear your retainer, the better chance you have for keeping your beautiful, straight smile. We will provide you with wearing instructions once we provide you with your retainers. Your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers, so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far.
Most orthodontic cases involve crowded teeth, which means that the width of all the teeth within the dental arch exceeds the arch circumference. It was common 40 years ago to have permanent teeth removed to gain the necessary space, even when the degree of crowding was minimal. This often resulted in problems – either spacing after treatment, flattening of the profile, and according to some experts TMJ problems.
Many cases are still treated today with the removal of permanent teeth, including some cases in our practice. However, we resort to this only when the crowding or bite problem (malocclusion) is severe. In lieu of tooth extraction, a technique called interproximal tooth reduction (air rotor stripping) is performed. A file is used to slightly and gently recontour the teeth in the crowded area. It is completely painless, since there are no nerve endings in the outer layer of teeth, and the teeth are not left more susceptible to decay. Years of clinical research have demonstrated this, and nearly every orthodontist uses this technique.
The “Temporomandibular Joint,” more commonly referred to as the “jaw joint,” assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw. Unfortunately, this joint is a common area for recurring pain. TMJ can cause serious side-effects including neck pain, blocked nasal passages, difficulty chewing and headaches.
The misalignment of teeth or when the upper and lower jaws do not fit properly together. While most malocclusions, or bad bites, are inherited, it is possible to develop bad bites by having such habits as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Premature tooth loss of primary teeth or missing permanent teeth can cause a malocclusion.
Spacers are small elastics that fit snugly between certain teeth to move them slightly so bands can be placed around them later. Spacers can fall out on their own if enough space has already been created. To determine if it needs to be replaced, slip some dental floss between the teeth; if it gets stuck, that means the spacer hasn’t created enough room and needs to be replaced prior to your banding appointment.
An orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic.
A wire engaged in orthodontic attachments, affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth and capable of causing or guiding tooth movement.
Passive Alignment and Proper Eruption
In order to proper tooth eruption and alignment it is important for us to preserve the space available in the dental arches. If given enough room, the teeth can move into a better alignment without the use of orthodontic appliances. With a thorough examination and regular monitoring by your orthodontist, we can determine if space management will be beneficial in helping preserve space for your incoming permanent teeth.
Space management is helpful in reducing the need for permanent tooth extraction and lessen the severity of orthodontic problems in the future.
Mouth Breathing (Obstructed Nasal Passage)
God designs us to breathe through our noses comfortably. Patients that predominantly breath through their mouths (either through habit or obstruction) are effected in many ways:
- Medically: Mouth breathers tend to have more respiratory problems, more colds, more sinus problems, etc.
- Dentally: Mouth breathers tend to have more dental decay, gum problems and halitosis (bad breath). They tend to grow long in the face – very vertical facial growth with dental open bites.
- Physically: Mouth breathers do not process enough oxygen while they sleep. They tend to manifest the problems associated with lack of sleep – less alert, groggy, dark rings under their eyes, etc. Some patients may exhibit opposite effects due to sleep apnea and can be misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD
- Socially: Mouth breathers tend to be sloppy eaters, appear to have a lower I.Q. as they walk around with their mouth open, and are at a higher risk of choking while eating.
- Chronic mouth breathing is pathological and should be evaluated by an ear, nose and throat specialist (Otolaryngologist) for proper treatment.
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