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Why should I see an orthodontic specialist?

Orthodontists have extensive and specialized training that enables them to provide their patients with specific goals for tooth movement and facial development.

At what age is the best time for a visit to the orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child should visit an orthodontist by age 7 or if any problem is detected by the dentist, pediatrician, or parents. Treatment does not always start at age 7, but the orthodontist can check and monitor patients as they grow from this point. Sometimes, if a concern is detected before jaw growth stops, it will be easier to correct. Early treatment can prevent a patient from needing surgery or having any more serious complications down the road.

What are Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Early interceptive treatment, or limited orthodontic treatment which usually includes an expander or limited braces, may be needed when there is a mixture of baby and permanent teeth. This is called Phase I treatment. Phase I may be needed to correct a crossbite, crowding or an underbite. Later comprehensive treatment, or Phase II treatment, is usually needed closer to middle school age for full bite correction.

What are some reasons why orthodontic treatment may be necessary?

  • The Upper front teeth may protrude or be too proclined (overbite)

  • The Upper and Lower teeth may not touch, may be difficult to bite into food with front teeth (open bite)

  • The Upper front teeth may overlap the Lower teeth too much, almost as if the lower teeth are hiding under the Upper teeth (deep bite)

  • The Lower teeth protrude too far out in front of the Upper teeth (underbite)

  • The Upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth which may cause misaligned jaw growth (crossbite)

  • Crowded or overlapped teeth

  • Uneven tooth wear

  • Unbalanced bite or chewing difficulties

  • Teeth that remain stuck in the jaws (impacted teeth)

  • The center of the upper and lower teeth do not match up (midlines)

  • Spaces or gaps

How long will treatment last?

Treatment times differ for each individual but on average, treatment may be from 12-24 months. Many factors can lessen or extend treatment like unpredictable growth, patient cooperation, or maintenance of keeping appointments.

Will my braces or orthodontic treatment interfere with my daily activities, like sports or playing musical instruments?

If you play sports or play a musical instrument, there may be some time for initial adaptation to your new orthodontic appliances, but orthodontic treatment should not interfere with these activities. If you are involved in high contact sports, a mouthguard is recommended, which we provide at our office.

Should I still see my dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Absolutely! It is very important to maintain your regular cleanings since braces can cause more food and plaque to be trapped on your teeth. Your dentist and hygienist can help keep your teeth clean and monitor you for cavities or gum concerns.

Will my braces hurt?

After the placement of your braces or after certain visits, your teeth may be sore for a few days. The actual placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. In these situations, over-the-counter pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.

How long is the retention phase?

Once orthodontic treatment is completed, the only guarantee that the teeth will remain in proper alignment, is with retainers. A good rule of thumb is that retainers should be worn as long as you want your teeth to stay straight.

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