For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. After your braces come off, you’ll feel more self-confident. During your treatment, we want you to feel as comfortable as possible.
How Orthodontic Treatment Works
Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to a corrected position.
This is a great time to wear braces! Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can choose brackets that are clear or metallic color. You can choose the color of the ties that hold the wire in brackets. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be, and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients.
Duration of Treatment
Treatment time typically ranges from one to three years, depending on the growth of the patient’s mouth and face and the severity of the problem. Patients grow at different rates and will respond variously to orthodontic treatment, so the time to case completion may differ from the original estimate.
The patient’s diligent use of any prescribed rubber bands or headgear is an essential factor in achieving the most efficient treatment. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take as few as six months.
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 two to three years of advanced education 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 during biting
- 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 seven 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 the permanent teeth have emerged. 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 appeared, 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 move teeth gradually 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 crucial for 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 smile by wearing a mouthguard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouthguards 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.
What will happen at my first visit?
During your first visit, we will perform a preliminary exam to determine if orthodontic treatment would be beneficial to you. This exam typically involves not only a clinical examination, but also diagnostic records (X-rays, photographs, molds of your teeth).
All this information is used to formulate a custom treatment plan and is useful in tracking progress during treatment. If you would like to have an exam only, please let us know before your appointment.
How much do braces cost?
Cost varies widely and depends on the severity of your orthodontic problems and the type of treatment Dr. King recommends. We work hard to offer you the best value we can and to make treatment affordable.
As part of that goal, we offer several types of payment plans. In order to learn what type of treatment would work best for you, give us a call and schedule a consultation.
How can I take care of my teeth if I’m wearing braces or a retainer?
ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
- Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask Dr. King or your family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
- If you take out your retainer to eat, brush your teeth, and floss, then remember to keep the retainer safe in its container so it does not get lost or broken.
- Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also use denture cleaner twice a week. Do not use hot, boiling water or the dishwasher.
- During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar (which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth and can cause more plaque and potential cavities).
- Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc). See our complete lists of foods to avoid and foods you can eat.
- Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.