Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. How do I know if my child is in need of orthodontic treatment?
- 2. What are the early symptoms of orthodontic problems?
- 3. What age should my child be seen by an orthodontist?
- 4. Can you be too old for braces?
- 5. Will it hurt?
- 6. Can I still have braces if I have missing teeth?
- 7. What is Phase I (Interceptive Treatment) and Phase II treatment?
- 8. What is Full or Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment?
- 9. Does everyone need a Phase I treatment?
- 10. Can I wait on Phase I/Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment until my child is older?
- 11. What is the length or duration of orthodontic treatment?
- 12. What are extraction and non-extraction therapy, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
- 13. What are the different types of braces?
- 14. How often are the appointments?
- 15. Is orthodontic care expensive?
It is usually difficult for you to determine if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Also, there are some problems that look intimidating and complex which will resolve on their own. Asking your general dentist is good reference, but we are your best resource since orthodontics is all we do. Our initial exam is complimentary and we would be more than happy to see your child and make any recommendations necessary.
Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following symptoms may help in prompting you to seek our orthodontic advice.
Ask your child to open their mouth, and let you look at their teeth. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps between your child’s teeth or overlapping teeth, your child may need orthodontic treatment.
Ask your child to bite all the way down, but keeping their lips open so you can see their teeth. Do the front top teeth line up with the bottom? Do the top teeth protrude out away from the bottom teeeth? Do the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth? Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth? All these are indicators for potential orthodontic treatment.
Look at the alignment of your child’s jaw. Does the jaw shift off center when your child bites down? If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, your child may have a skeletal problem which requires early orthodontic intervention.
These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age seven. Early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later.
No. Age is not a factor, only the health of your gums and bone which support your teeth. About 25% of our orthodontic patients are adults and that number is still growing!
Orthodontic treatment has improved dramatically. As a rule, braces make your teeth sore for a few days, but it is not painful. This annoyance can be relieved with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Today’s braces are smaller, more comfortable and use technology that reduces the discomfort. We use the latest in miniature braces and the highest quality of orthodontic materials in order to reduce discomfort and treatment time.
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.
Phase I or Interceptive Treatment usually starts while the child has most of their baby teeth and some of their incisors or front teeth. The age of this varies with each child. This stage in develpoment is usually about the age of seven. The goal of Phase I treatment is to intercept a moderate or severe orthodontic problem early in order to reduce or eliminate it. These problems include skeletal dysplasias, crossbites and crowding. Phase I treatment takes advantage of the early growth spurt and turns a difficult orthodontic problem into a more manageable one. This helps reduce the need for extractions or surgery and delivers better long term results and treatment options. Most Phase I patients require a Phase II treatment in order to achieve an ideal bite.
Phase II treatment or Comprehensive Treatment usually occurs a number of years later. Usually we are waiting for 12-16 more permanent teeth to erupt before Phase II begins. This most commonly occurs at the age of 12 to 14 years of age. The goal of Phase II treatment is to position each individual permanent tooth in the exact proper position. This will achieve an ideal occlusion (bite) with all of the permanent teeth which will result in a smile that will last a lifetime.
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.
Absolutely not! Only certain bites require early intervention. All others can wait until most if not all their permanent teeth erupt.
This is not recommended. If your child needs Phase I treatment this usually means that he has a difficult problem that requires attention now. If no orthodontic action is taken, treatment options become limited, more difficult, and the long term stability may be compromised. In addition, it may lead to extractions, oral surgery and increase costs.
Braces may be on between 6 months to 30 months, or longer depending on the age of the patient, the severity of the problem, the patients cooperation, and the degree of movement possible.
12. What are extraction and non-extraction therapy, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Extraction therapy is a technique where some teeth are removed to make room for the other teeth in your child’s mouth. This is in contrast to non-extraction therapy where the orthodontist expands the patient’s jaws in order to create enough space to align all of the permanent teeth. We always attempt to avoid extraction of permanent teeth, but there are important reasons why we elect to do so. In some patients if teeth are not extracted the final outcome will not only be unstable, but create a lifetime of periodontal problems. It may negatively impact the final profile of the patient and prevent a good occlusion (bite) from being obtained.
We offer traditional metal braces in silver (most common) as well as clear ceramic braces for those patients interested in a less visible, more aesthetic treatment option. Also, Invisalign is another choice to straighten your teeth. See Invisalign under Orthodontics 101
Generally, we will want to see you every 6-8 weeks to check your progress and make adjustments to your braces. During this time, you will need to keep appointments, follow instructions, as well as practice good oral hygiene and proper nutrition. Also continue to visit your dentist regularly.
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. Orthodontic fees have not increased as fast as many other consumer products. Financing is usually available and our office offers many payment programs that will meet your needs. In addition, many insurance plans now include orthodontics. Considering the time spent, orthodontics is regarded as dentistry’s best value.