Creating Beautiful Smiles for Children, Teens, and Adults
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in diagnosing, preventing and treating dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is "malocclusion," which means "bad bite."
What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has completed college, four years of dental school and two to three years in a residency program accredited by the American Dental Association in advanced education in orthodontics. An orthodontist treats the misalignment of teeth and facial development with braces, retainers, headgear and other methods. Only a dentist that has completed the additional years of training and education after dental school is an orthodontist.
How can I benefit from orthodontics?
The benefits of orthodontics include:
Improved ability to practice good oral hygiene
A reduced risk of injury to protruded front teeth
A more attractive smile
Possible increase in self-confidence
Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
Better function of the teeth
Improved wear patterns and force distribution of the teeth
Better long-term health of gums and teeth
The ability to guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
Aids in optimizing other dental treatment
How can I tell if I need braces?
Some indications that braces may be needed include:
Upper front teeth protrude over the lower teeth, causing an overbite
Lower front teeth protrude over or in front of the upper front teeth, causing an underbite
Upper front teeth cover most of the lower teeth when biting together, resulting in a deep bite
The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together, resulting in an open bite
The lower jaw experiences movement to one side or the other when biting together
Teeth are overlapped or crowded
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
Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
Spaces exist between the teeth
How old must a person be to have orthodontic treatment?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an initial orthodontic screening at age 7. The reason for this is that any problems related to orthodontics are easily corrected when they are detected before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment also may prevent a patient from needing surgery or suffering from more serious complications later in life.
What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?
Phase I treatment also is referred to as early interceptive treatment. It is a limited orthodontic treatment that typically is performed on children between ages 6 and 10. Phase I treatment involves straightening the front permanent teeth to create room for the remaining permanent teeth that erupt at age 12. It also is used to correct jaw growth problems, overbites and underbites. Undergoing Phase I treatment reduces the likelihood that permanent teeth will have to be extracted in the future.
Phase II treatment is also known as comprehensive treatment because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of 11 and 13.
Can adults benefit from orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatment can be as successful for adults as for children. Today, more than 25-percent of all orthodontic patients are adults.
How does orthodontic treatment work?
Braces help apply gentle, steady pressure to move teeth into their proper positions over time. The main components of braces are the brackets that are affixed to the teeth and the archwire that connects them. Once the archwire is secured into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their correct positions.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
The length of treatment varies from patient to patient, depending on the type and severity of problems. Generally speaking, treatment typically takes a year and a half to two years to complete. The length and success of treatment is partially reliant upon patient compliance.
Do braces hurt?
Placing appliances on the teeth is not a painful process. Once the braces and archwires are secured, patients may experience some tenderness of the teeth for several days. It also may take a couple of weeks for the lips and cheeks to grow accustomed to the braces.
Can you play sports if you have braces?
Yes, but it is important that patients with braces wear a mouthguard when participating in sporting events. A mouthguard serves as a shock absorber to protect teeth from fracturing and hardware from breaking.
Can you still play musical instruments if you have braces?
Yes. However, it may take some time to adjust to the braces. Oral brace covers may be helpful in preventing gum discomfort while playing musical instruments.
Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?
Yes. Routine dental cleanings and exams- performed every six months- are recommended to maintain optimum oral health.
What else should I know about braces?
Orthodontic appliances generally do not cause severe pain. If the appliance is causing pain that cannot be resolved at home, or if an appliance is broken, call the orthodontist's office for assistance. The problem should be resolved promptly to avoid delays in treatment.
Many problems can be solved temporarily, while the mouth adjusts or until an appointment at the office can be made. Make sure to accurately identify the part of the appliance that is broken or is causing a problem.
Poking wire: Use dental wax to cover the wire where it is hurting. Use a pencil eraser to push the wire down until the next appointment.
Loose bracket/band: If the bracket or band remains attached to the wire, leave it alone and use wax to stick it in place. If the bracket has come out all the way, wrap the bracket with a tissue and schedule an appointment immediately.
Loose wire: Use wax. Use tweezers to put the wire back in place. As a last resort, use fingernail clippers to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened.
Loose appliance: Use wax to cover the portion that is irritating the mouth.
Improper fit of headgear: Headgear discomfort can be caused by not wearing the headgear as instructed. Headgear may hurt less the more it is worn.
Bent facebow: Call the office for assistance. Do not wear the headgear unless otherwise instructed until the next appointment.
Soreness or tenderness: Routine adjustments and new appliances can cause tenderness in the cheeks, lips, tongue and teeth for several days. Using wax on rough areas of the braces can help while the mouth adjusts. Try warm saltwater rinses, using one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water. Orabase, an over-the-counter oral pain reliever can soothe the mouth, or take ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Now that the braces are on ... HOW LONG WILL MY TEETH BE SORE? Expect the teeth to be somewhat tender the first few days after your braces are adjusted. Take Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Tylenol to alleviate the discomfort. The teeth will not bother you unless you try to eat with them but they will not bother you while you do other things. The sooner you start chewing the faster you will adjust. Try not to baby the WHAT FLUORIDE, I NEVER SAW ONE IN MY BAG? In your kit you will find a starter bottle of fluoride rinse to use EVERY night. We know that you probably have fluoride in your tooth paste but this is different This will protect your teeth at night while you are sleeping. It is very important and will help to prevent the white spots that can form on your teeth if they are not brushed properly. This helps if you are following our diet and stay away from soft drinks which are very acidic and full of sugar. Remember, they are your teeth, please take care of them. When fluoride runs out you can buy additional bottles. Each bottle should last 6-8 weeks.
WILL THE INSIDE OF MY LIPS BE SORE FOREVER? Expect, from time to time, that your cheeks and lips may become irritated. You will eventually build up a callous. If an ulcer forms, use the wax that we gave you and place it over the braces that seem to be causing the problem. The wax will stay in place even while eating if you make sure that the area is dry before putting the wax in place. Pull off a small piece, roll it up in a ball and stick it over the braces.
DO I STILL HAVE TO SEE MY DENTIST FOR CLEANINGS AND CHECK-UPS? YES, YES, YES, Please continue to see your dentist for regularly scheduled cleanings. We would like you to be seen every 4 months rather than every 6 months to stay on top of things This is very important. What we would also like to do is coordinate your cleaning appointment with an orthodontic visit so that we can remove your wires for the cleaning. This makes the hygienist job a lot easier. If you schedule a cleaning appointment, please let us know well in advance (at least 4 weeks) so that we can coordinate appointments with both offices.
WHY DID I GET THIS SPACE BETWEEN MY FRONT TEETH? Sometimes things look worse before they look better. The teeth will move in different directions as the teeth are straightening out. You may see a space between your two front teeth that has never been there before or teeth that seemed perfectly straight before the braces were placed may not seem as straight. Please be patient and things will start to improve. That space will close and those teeth will line up. I promise. In order to straighten the worst of the teeth, the straighter teeth may be pulled out of alignment but eventually they will work together to give you that great smile we are all working towards.
MY TEETH ARE LOOSE, IS THIS OKAY, ARE THEY GOING TO FALL OUT? This is all right so do not worry about them falling out, unless it is a baby tooth of course. We want them to get loose so that we can move them around. If they get too loose we will let you know, but this is rare. Most people notice this after they have been hit with an elbow, basketball or some form of trauma to the mouth.
I WAS ONLY EATING MASHED POTATOES WHEN THE BRACE FELL OFF. Some times braces do not break off immediately after they are loosened. Sometimes that hard candy, bagel or pizza crust weakens the glue but not enough for it to come off.. The next thing you know the bracket pops off while you are sitting in class or eating mashed potatoes The important thing is that you call us ASAP to let us know. The brace does not necessarily have to be replaced right away but we need to know about it Even if you leave a message on the recorder. If you wait until the day of your appointment to tell us you have a brace off, we may not be able to fix it . If we know ahead of time we can make arrangements. HOW MUCH LONGER WILL THE BRACES BE ON Remember, the time we told you is a rough estimate. It could take a little longer or it may not take as long. A lot of what happens depends on you. If you do not wear the elastics, plan on adding time. If you like to chew gum, plan on adding time. Missed some appointments, plan on adding time. Even if all goes smoothly, it could take awhile longer. No two people have teeth that move the same way and we do not want to rush the final result. Asking at each visit, "How much longer?"will not help you get your braces off any earlier. But, no one can blame you for trying! Good Luck!
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