Q: How do you know if a person needs orthodontic treatment?
A: It is usually difficult to know if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Asking your general dentist is a good reference, but we are the best resource since orthodontics or braces are all we do. Our initial exam is complimentary and hence it only makes sense to get a consultation with us and we will be happy to give necessary recommendations.
Q: What are the signs or symptoms of orthodontic problems?
A: Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following may help in prompting you to seek our orthodontic advice.
Look at teeth at any age. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps between your child’s teeth or overlapping teeth, orthodontic treatment is indicated.
Have your child bite all the way down, but keep their lips open so you can see the teeth. Do the front top teeth line up with the bottom? Do the top teeth protrude out away from the bottom teeth? Do the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth? Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth? If you answered yes to any of these, orthodontic treatment may be required.
Look at the alignment of the jaws. Does the jaw shift off center when biting down? If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, it suggests a skeletal or jaw bone problem, which requires early orthodontic intervention.
These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.
Q: At what age should my child see an orthodontist? Do all baby teeth have to fall out before initiating orthodontic treatment?
A: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age seven. Hence all baby teeth need not be gone before initiating orthodontic treatment. In fact, early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early preventive/interceptive action and avoid more difficult treatment later. Early treatment also potentially prevents extraction of teeth which is needed in some cases if the teeth get very crowded. Again, since our initial consultation is complimentary, it helps to get a consult as soon as possible.
Q: Can you be too old for braces?
A: No, age is not a factor. So long as the gums and bone which support your teeth are healthy one can get orthodontic treatment at any age. About 30% of our orthodontic patients are adults and that number is still growing!
Q: Will orthodontic treatment hurt?
A: Orthodontic treatment mechanics have advanced technologically over the last few years. Introduction of new high tech wires, smaller braces, innovative accessories and stress of preventive/interceptive treatments make today’s orthodontic treatment fairly comfortable. We do not use any anesthetic injections for any of the procedures. As a rule, braces can cause a little discomfort initially. Teeth can get a little sore a day after every adjustment appointment but they are not painful. This annoyance can be relieved easily with over-the-counter pain relievers, if needed. Most of our patients do not need to take any pain relievers.
Q: Can I still have braces if I have missing teeth?
A: Yes. When teeth are missing, adjacent teeth will drift into the empty space. This will cause a functional, esthetic or periodontal problem. Orthodontic treatment will correct and prevent these problems from happening and will also provide proper alignment for your dentist to replace the missing teeth.
Q: What is Phase I (Early Interceptive Treatment) and Phase II Treatment?
A: Phase I or Early Interceptive Treatment usually starts while the child has most of their baby teeth with few of their permanent teeth. The goal of Phase I treatment is to intercept moderate or severe orthodontic problems such as jaw bone problems, cross bites and crowding early in order to reduce or eliminate them. This phase does not use full braces as braces are never put on baby teeth. Generally we use expanders, removable appliances, Herbst appliance (instead of headgear) and retainers during this phase. These treatment approaches take advantage of the active growth to change the jaw bone structure to either make extra room or address jaw bone discrepancies. This helps reduce the need for extractions or jaw surgery and delivers better long term results.
Most Phase I patients require a Phase II treatment in order to achieve an ideal bite. Phase II treatment involves the use of full braces with a goal to finish the occlusion or bite ideally. It usually occurs when all permanent teeth are present. Many times there is a resting period between the end of Phase I treatment and the start of Phase II treatment. This phase most commonly occurs around the age of 12 or 13 years.
Q: What is full or comprehensive orthodontic treatment?
A: This is another name for orthodontic treatment in the permanent dentition at any age. It is more commonly used when a Phase I treatment was not performed.
Q: Does everyone need a Phase I treatment?
A: Absolutely not! But in many cases early intervention helps a lot. We will offer Phase I treatment only if it makes a difference in future treatment otherwise we keep the patients for a complimentary recall consultation every six months.
Q: What is the length or duration of orthodontic treatment?
A: In our office, Phase I treatment usually lasts 12-14 months. Phase II or full braces treatment may last from 12 to 34 months. In both situations, we generally see patients every 6 to 8 weeks for their adjustment appointment.
Treatment time and its success depends on multiple factors such as age of the patient, severity of the problem, the patient’s cooperation and the speed of natural response of teeth movement.
Q: What are extraction and non-extraction therapies, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
A: Extraction therapy is a technique where some teeth are removed to make room for the other teeth. This is in contrast with non-extraction therapy where one expands a patient’s jaw and/or shaves some teeth to reduce their width to make teeth fit. We will make a thorough evaluation at the consultation and discuss the options to determine which procedure best suits the patient.
Q: What are the different types of braces?
A: Metal braces are the most popular with kids and teenagers. They love using different colors of ligature ties. These braces are much smaller than ever before.
Translucent clear ceramic braces are popular with adults. You have to be very close to someone to be able to see them. Yet, because they are a ceramic material, they are more fragile and have some limitations.
The Invisalign system is becoming a very popular method of orthodontic treatment for adults. Treatment consists of a series of custom-made clear aligners that are changed about every two weeks to straighten your teeth gradually over time. Not all patients will be candidates for Invisalign. For more information about Invisalign and to see if you are a candidate, please give our office a call to make an appointment for a complimentary exam.
Q: Is orthodontic care expensive? Do you have a payment plan?
A: Our innovative business model is very unique which makes orthodontic treatment such as braces or Invisalign affordable.
We offer financial payment plans with the option of no down payment and affordable monthly payments. We do not charge any interest. We have found that the initial down payment charged by traditional orthodontists is prohibitive to many hard working families especially with multiple family members who could benefit from orthodontic treatment.
Please call our office to discuss this affordable investment and start smiling!