Q: What Is Orthodontics?
A: Orthodontics is a specialty branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. An orthodontist receives an additional three years in graduate school beyond those required for general dentistry. Braces are the appliances that are generally used to correct these problems. (See "What is Orthodontics" section)
Q: What Are the Benefits of Orthodontics?
A: Your new, attractive smile is sure to give you an improved self-image. But beyond that, orthodontics can prevent health problems as well. Straight teeth are easier for you and your dental team to clean, avoiding tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction, and tooth loss. They can even help prevent chewing and digestive difficulties, and speech impairments.
Benefits of treatment include:
- 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
Q: At What Age Should Orthodontic Treatment Occur?
A: 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. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist at age 7.
Q: What Is a Malocclusion?
A: Malocclusion literally means bad bite. Most malocclusions are inherited, but it is possible to acquire a bad bite from habits such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking. (See "What is Malocclusion" section)
Q: What Are Some Early Warning Signs of a Bite Problem?
A: Any of the following conditions warrant a visit to an orthodontist: early or late loss of primary/"baby" teeth, difficulty in chewing or biting, mouth breathing, finger sucking or other harmful oral habits beyond age 5, overlapped, misplaced or blocked-out teeth, protruding teeth, biting the cheek or into the roof of the mouth, teeth that meet in an abnormal manner or do not meet at all, jaws that shift or make sounds, jaws that protrude, retrude or contribute to facial imbalance, speech difficulty.
- Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked(overbite)
- Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together and/or hit the palate (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 that continue after five or six years of age
- Difficulty chewing
- Abnormal swallowing and speech difficulty
- Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
- The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
- Spaces between the teeth
Q: Will Braces Hurt?
A: The placement of braces on your teeth does not hurt at all. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires, you may feel some soreness. Most patients experience some discomfort the first 4 days to a week after their braces, expanders, and/or wires are placed and after a wire adjustment. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth. All the appliances and wires that we use are cutting-edge, and exert very light, continuous, and biologically sound forces that greatly decrease any soreness associated with orthodontic treatment. But, some mild, and rarely moderate, discomfort is still to be expected. Each person will gradually adapt to the discomfort associated with the orthodontic tooth movement. Over the counter pain relievers (Advil/Motrin work well) normally taken for headaches plus rigorous regiment of salt water rinses can be used to greatly ease the discomfort. (See "Do Braces Hurt/What to Expect" section)
Q: How does orthodontic treatment work?
A: 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, “straight” shape (we use high-tech, NASA design wires that are heat activated at your mouth temperature and have shape memory). As it does so, it applies light, biologically sound pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions. These newer, high-tech wires cause less orthodontic discomfort/soreness and also require less adjustment.
Q: What Can I Eat with Braces?
A: You can enjoy most of the foods you ate before you got your braces. But, avoid hard, crunchy and sticky foods that can damage the braces and wires. (See "Eating with Braces" section)
Q: Why Do Baby Teeth Sometimes Need to Be Pulled?
A: Extracting baby teeth may be necessary to allow severely crowded permanent teeth to come in at a normal time in a normal location. If the permanent teeth have no space to erupt and remain crowded, some permanent teeth may become impacted (teeth that should have come in, but have not), or can come in to an undesirable position. Sometimes sequential, well-planned removal of baby teeth can dramatically improve a severe crowding problem of permanent teeth.
Q: What About the Wisdom Teeth—Should They Be Removed?
A: In about three out of four cases where teeth have not been removed during orthodontic treatment, there are good reasons to have the wisdom teeth removed, usually when a person reaches his or her mid- to late-teen years. Your orthodontist, in consultation with your family dentist, can determine what is right for you.
Q: How Long Will I Have to Undergo Orthodontic Treatment?
A: It varies for each patient and always depends on and affected by how much your jaw needs to change, how far your teeth must move, the rate of growth, and the severity of the overall correction necessary. In general, most patients will be in treatment between 1 and 2 years. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene, nor breaking braces, wires, and/or appliances, and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
Q: Will I Still Be Able to Play Sports?
A: Yes, although we recommend that patients protect their teeth and braces by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity where you might get hit in the mouth. We have mouth pieces that can be adapted to braces.
Q: Will Braces Interfere with Playing Musical Instruments?
A: They shouldn't at all, although there may be an initial period of adjustment. Let us know if you have any problems.
Q: Can You Be Too Old for Braces (What about Adults)?
A: Not at all! While there are advantages to treating young people while they are still growing, about 25%-30% of orthodontic patients in the United States are adults. As long as bone support is good, teeth can be moved at about any age. In addition to the tremendous strides that have been made in traditional orthodontic treatment for adults, adults are also great candidates for clear aligner treatment, such as Invisalign and the "behind the teeth" or lingual braces. (See "For Adults" section)
Q: Why Are Retainers Needed After Orthodontic Treatment and For How Long?
A: After your braces are removed, your teeth can quickly shift out of position if they are not stabilized. Retainers ensure that stabilization and are designed to hold teeth in their corrected, ideal positions until the bones and gums adapt to the treatment changes. If the retainers are not worn as directed, the teeth will quickly shift out of position we worked so hard to obtain due to lack of stability. Dr. Tsibel will give specific retainer instructions based on each case, but in general the retainers are worn 16-20 hours a day for a few months after the braces have been removed. After that, we recommend wearing them just at night, and gradually part time (every second or third night), as teeth settle according to your bite.
Remember as we all get older teeth tend to shift, whether you had orthodontic treatment or not, its just a normal part of getting older. Teeth are there for you to use and some adaptive changes may occur. This is not failure of the treatment, but nature's changes that we learn to expect from the body, as we grow older. If you wish to insure the stability and permanence of the results achieved with orthodontic treatment, life-time retainer wear should be considered. Yes, retainers are like diamonds – they're forever! So, just think of them as pajamas for your teeth and wear them consistently when you sleep. If worn consistently long-term, retainers will help you keep that straight smile for life. (See "Retainers" section)
Q: Is Orthodontic Care Expensive?
A: Orthodontic fees have increased minimally as compared to other consumer products. And 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, if the orthodontic treatment is not done. Furthermore, orthodontics is an excellent investment not just for your smile, appearance, and self-image, but also for your overall health.
The actual cost of braces may range significantly and for the most part traditionally depends on the 3 key variables - case difficulty/severity (with respect to the complexity of the growth and bite patterns), the overall length of treatment, and what kind of braces or orthodontic appliances are used in treatment. Regardless of the fee, various payment plan options are available in our office to make orthodontic treatment more affordable and financially comfortable for our patients. In addition, many insurance plans now include orthodontics. (See "Insurance and Payment Options" section)
Q: How Often Will I Need Office Visits?
A: Once your appliances are in place, routine office visits are at six- to ten-week intervals.
Q: Should I See My General Dentist While I Have Braces?
A: Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every four to six months for cleanings and dental checkups, even while wearing braces.
Q: How are Instruments Sterilized?
A: Instruments are sterilized with dry heat, or steam heat, according to OSHA standards. Our office complies with all the requirements and our staff are constantly in training to maintain the highest level of sterilization.