What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the
diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial
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
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
- Aids in optimizing other dental treatment
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
- 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 six or
seven years old
- Difficulty chewing
- Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
- The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting
- 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 seven or earlier if a problem is
detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child's physician.
What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?
Phase I, or early interceptive 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 six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to
make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites,
overbites, and 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.
Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants
a beautiful and healthy smile. 20 to 25 percent of orthodontic
patients today 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 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.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time
is from one to two 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 and keeping regular appointments are 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 soreness 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 mouth guard when participating in any sporting
activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a
variety of colors and patterns.
Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?
No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In
addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.
Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?
Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six
months for cleanings and dental checkups.