What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
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 development.
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
- Aid 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 (underbite)
- 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 together
- 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 7 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, 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 eleven and thirteen.
Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Twenty to twenty five 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.
Your First Visit
Your first visit to the orthodontist consists of photographs and an oral examination by the doctor. We will give you a general idea of what to expect for your orthodontic treatment.
After your first visit to the orthodontist, diagnostic records are made to determine the best course of treatment. Complete diagnostic records typically include a medical/dental history, clinical examination; plaster study models of the teeth, photos of the patient's face and teeth, and X-rays. This information is used to develop a custom treatment plan for each patient. These records are also helpful in tracking the progress of treatment as the teeth move under orthodontic care.
After the doctor has evaluated your records, we discuss your treatment with you in detail, including the cost for your particular case.
The appointment when you get your appliances (braces, expanders, etc.) usually takes from one to two hours. You'll then see us at regular intervals 4 to 8 weeks apart for an adjustment, which takes 20 to 40 minutes. Our regular office hours are Monday to Thursday from 9:00 AM to 5 PM. Patients are seen by appointment only. We make every effort to be on time for our patients, and ask that you extend the same courtesy to us. If you cannot keep an appointment, please notify us immediately. Cancel only if it is an emergency. It is difficult to reschedule you since most appointments are made 4 to 8 weeks in advance.
Payment & Office Policies
The cost of treatment depends on the severity of the patient's problem. You will be able to discuss fees and payment options before treatment begins. We have financing options to suit different budgets, including a same as cash, no down payment option. We also accept assignment from most insurance plans, and file the necessary papers to the insurance company. We work hard to make orthodontics affordable.
In an effort to keep orthodontic fees down while maintaining the highest level of professional care, we have established this financial policy:
- If full payment is made at the onset of treatment, we will offer a fee discount. (If you have insurance, we will offer a discount for payment of your portion of the fee that will not be covered by insurance.)
- To fit your individual needs, financial arrangements can be made to extend your payments over a period of months.
- For your convenience, we accept payment by VISA, MASTERCARD, and AMERICAN EXPRESS.
- In cases of serious delinquency, treatment will be discontinued, although we will make every effort to accommodate patients with temporary difficulties.
If you have insurance, we will help you to determine the coverage you have available. We ask that you assign your insurance benefit to us. The balance will be arranged for you to pay (see above). Professional care is provided to you, our patient, and not to an insurance company. Thus, the insurance company is responsible to the patient and the patient is responsible to the doctor. We will help in every way we can in filing your claim and handling insurance questions from our office on your behalf.