Orthodontics is the practice of straightening teeth. When teeth are crooked, crowded or misaligned, orthodontic treatment is used to achieve an occlusion, or perfect bite. Through various orthodontic appliances, pressure is continuously applied to move teeth into the correct position.
Since so few of us actually have perfectly aligned smiles, just about everyone can benefit from an orthodontic exam. It is highly recommended that your children receive an orthodontic consultation by the age of 7.
No matter what age you are, orthodontics can help just about anyone! Orthodontics may be easier for children and teens, as their jaws are still developing and teeth are easier to move. But for adults who suffer from a malocclusion, or imperfect bite, it's never too late to seek orthodontic treatment.
The Role of the Orthodontist
An orthodontist is a dental specialist whose practice is limited to the field of orthodontics. Orthodontists complete at least two extra years of schooling to practice their skills. Either an orthodontist or dentist who does dental braces determine the need for dental treatment, and will monitor your bite until he or she feels you are ready to start your orthodontic work.
Types of Braces
The most common type of orthodontic appliance is dental braces. Today's braces are very different from just 10 or 20 years ago. Gone are the days of the full metal mouth, and many orthodontic patients can achieve a smile with little discomfort.
Traditional Braces -- Metal braces have come a long way over the years. Brackets can now be decorated with colorful bands and smaller stainless steel brackets are also available.
Ceramic Braces -- Also known as "clear" or porcelain dental braces, ceramic or plastic brackets blend into the color of your teeth, making your braces less noticeable.
Lingual Braces -- Brackets are attached to the backside of teeth to hide the braces from view.
What to Expect
The first step in getting any orthodontic work is a consultation. Your dentist will check your bite and determine your need for dental braces. For traditional and ceramic braces, brackets are cemented to the front of your teeth. Orthodontic bands help hold the brackets in place, and arch wires are placed through the brackets. Wires are usually adjusted every month to guide teeth in the right direction. Other orthodontic appliances, such as rubber bands, springs and headgear are also used to move teeth.
You may experience some soreness after the placement of dental braces and following adjustments, but it usually subsides quickly. Thanks to smaller and more convenient appliances, brackets tend to be less abrasive on your soft tissues. If you experience extended discomfort, talk to your orthodontist. He or she can recommend a medication or change adjustment methods to help relieve pain.
An oral hygiene regimen can be difficult to maintain when you have a mouthful of metal, so it's extremely important to take care of your teeth when wearing an orthodontic appliance. Be sure to continue your regular dental visits while undergoing orthodontic treatment. At-home care, including brushing and flossing, should be given special attention to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. It can be difficult for dentists to perform a tooth filling or gum disease treatment when you're wearing dental braces.
It’s Worth the Effort!
While it may take a couple years to fix your smile, orthodontic treatment is definitely worth the time and investment! Orthodontic treatment corrects your bite, which improves chewing and speech. Orthodontic work can also change your facial structure if you suffer from an overbite or underbite, and the result is aesthetically pleasing -- many patients now choose orthodontics solely for cosmetic reasons! A smile obtained through orthodontic treatment can also help increase your confidence and build self-esteem.
So Many Choices!
Some patients may choose not to use dental braces because they dislike the appearance or don't have the time. If you're not crazy about the idea of wearing dental braces, you have other orthodontic options!
Invisalign® is a series of clear, plastic aligners that straighten teeth without using brackets. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks until your desired result is achieved. The appliance can be removed when eating, and most people won't even know you're wearing it!
Your dentist may also suggest veneers, which are thin porcelain wafers attached to the front of teeth. Dental veneers greatly reduce the time commitment needed for orthodontic treatment, but they don't actually straighten your teeth; rather, dental veneers cover imperfections completely.
If you're interested in orthodontics, call us at