Common Orthodontic Questions & Answers
WHAT IS ORTHODONTICS?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnoses, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is “malocclusion” which means bad bite. The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment to achieve facial balance.
WHAT IS AN ORTHODONTIST?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist trained in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontics must first attend college, followed by a four year graduate dental program at a university level dental school accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA) or Canadian Dental Association (CDA). They must then successfully complete an additional two to three year residency program of advanced dental education in orthodontics accredited by the ADA/CDA. Only dentists who have successfully completed their advanced specialty education and registered with their Provincial College as an orthodontist may call themselves as an orthodontist.
WHAT CAUSES ORTHODONTIC PROBLEM?
Malocclusions can be inherited or acquired. Inherited problems can include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra teeth, congenitally missing teeth and a wide range of discrepancies of the jaws, teeth and face. Acquired problems can be caused by traumas such as thumb or finger sucking, airway obstructions by tonsil and adenoids, dental diseases and premature loss of baby or adult teeth. Many of these problems can affect not only alignment of the teeth, but also facial development and appearance as well.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILD NEEDS ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?
It is usually difficult for the general public to determine if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Also, there are some problems that look intimidating and complex which will resolve on their own. Asking your general dentist is a good reference as well. With the extra education an orthodontist possesses, we can be your best resource because it is all we do. It’s our specialty. In order to best assess your case, we do a comprehensive initial evaluation and follow it up with an informative and personalized consultations which is all inclusive with the initial fee. We would be more than happy to see your child and make any recommendations necessary.
WHAT ARE THE EARLY SIGNS OF ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS
Although determining if treatment is necessary can be difficult, the following signs may help in prompting you to seek orthodontic advice: crowded or overlapping teeth, gaps between the teeth, front top teeth not lining up with the bottom teeth, top front teeth not meeting with the bottom teeth and top front teeth covering more than 50% of the bottom teeth can signal the need to investigate. If you see any misalignment of shifting of the jaw, your child may have a skeletal problem, which may require early orthodontic treatment. These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.
AT WHAT AGE SHOULD BE CHILD SEE AN ORTHODONTIST
The American association of orthodontics recommends that your child be evaluated by age seven. An orthodontic screening no later than age seven enables the orthodontist to detect an evaluate problems that exist, advice is treatment will be necessary, and determine the best tiem for the treatment. Early detection of any orthodontic problems is important in order ot take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later.
CAN ADULTS HAVE BRACES?
Age is not a factor in considering orthodontic treatment for adults. Any adult in good general health with healthy gums and good bone support for the teeth is a good candidate for orthodontic treatment. About 25% of our orthodontic patients are adults, and that number is still growing! More and more adults have better dental and physical health now and deserve to enjoy a beautiful smile too.
IS ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT PAINFUL?
Orthodontic treatment has improved dramatically. As a rule, braces make your teeth tender and sore for a few days, but it is not painful. This annoyance can be relieved with an over the counter analgesic. Today’s braces are more comfortable and use technology that reduces the discomfort. We use the biocompatible braces, advances techniques using light orthodontic force and the high-quality orthodontic materials in order to help reduce discomfort and treatment time.
WHAT IS PHASE 1 (INTERCEPTIVE) AND PHASE 2 (COMPREHENSIVE) TREATMENT?
Phase 1, or interceptive treatment, usually starts while the child has most of their baby teeth and a few of their permanent front incisors. This stage in development is usually about the age of seven to nine. The goal of Phase 1 treatment is to intercept a moderate or severe orthodontic problem early in order to reduce or eliminate it. These problems include skeletal discrepancies, crossbites, and severe crowding. Phase 1 treatment takes advantage of the early growth spurt and turns a difficult orthodontic problem into a more manageable one. This may reduce the need for extraction or surgery and can deliver better long term stability. Most phase 1 patients require a second phase of treatment in order to achieve an ideal final bite.
Phase 2 treatment usually occurs a number of years later often when remaining permanent teeth have erupted, including second molars. This most commonly occurs at the age of 12 or 13. The goal of phase 2 treatment is to achieve an ideal bite and profile with all of the permanent teeth present.
DOES EVERYONE NEED PHASE 1 TREATMENT?
Not every child needs phase 1 treatment. Only some children with discrepancies such as crossbites and severe crowding require early intervention. All others can wait until most, if not all, their permanent teeth erupt. However, it is important that every child be evaluated by age seven.
WHAT IS THE DURATION OF ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT
Braces may be on between 6-30 months, or in rare instances longer. This depends on the development of the dentition, the severity of the problem, the patients cooperation and the degree of teeth movement required.
DO I NEED TO HAVE TEETH EXTRACTED?
Crowded teeth can be addressed in a couple of ways. Extraction therapy is a technique where one or more teeth are removed to make room fro the other teeth in the mouth. This is in contract to non-extraction therapy where on expands a patients jaw and or adjusts the size and shape of some teeth to make them fit within the jaw. Our office’s treatment philosophy is very conservative and we do make every effort to avoid extraction. However, for severe crowding and severe jaw discrepancy the extraction approach may be required.
IS ORTHODONTIC CARE EXPENSIVE?
When orthodontic treatment is implemented at the proper time, treatment is often less costly than the dental care required to treat the more serious problems that can develop years later. Fees are assessed according to the degree of difficulty required to treat each case. We strive to make orthodontics achievable for those needing care. Our office offers payment plans to meet your needs and will supply any insurance forms or information required for you to be reimbursed by your insurance company if you have orthodontic coverage.