Dr. Beaber Answers The Most Commonly Asked Questions
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 an advanced education program following dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.
Are braces necessary?
Some people need braces more than others. There are dental problems like crowding and rotations that are not so serious. There are skeletal problems (a problem in the growth of one or both jaws), alone or in combination with dental problems, which can be complicated to treat. Braces are elective, but people seldom grow out of orthodontic problems, in fact, most orthodontic problems get worse with age.
How much are braces?
The cost of treatment varies depending on which phase of treatment is being received, how long treatment will take and what type of braces are being used. There can be additional charges for surgical cases and cosmetic brackets. We also advise that you continue your regular schedule with your family dentist. Those charges for general dentistry will be delivered by your family dentist.
How does orthodontic treatment work?
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 shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.
Do braces hurt?
The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the arch wires, you may feel some soreness for one to four days. Many patients describe the discomfort as an “ache” or a “bruise”. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.
The good news is that new techniques and materials used by orthodontists today have decreased the discomfort of wearing braces and have also decreased the frequency of visits and overall treatment time.
Will I need to have teeth extracted?
We avoid permanent tooth removal in children 98% of the time in our practice. Removing teeth is sometimes required in adults to achieve the best orthodontic result. Straight teeth and a balanced facial profile are the goals of orthodontics. However, because new technology has provided advanced orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is not always necessary for orthodontic treatment.
What do rubber bands do?
Rubber bands or elastics contribute a lot to straighter teeth. They are marvels of physics. Attached to your braces, elastics exert the force that creates the right amount of pressure to move teeth in the directions that the braces alone can’t. It’s important to wear your elastics as prescribed and change them several times throughout the day, so the force is constant, which the teeth like. A lack of consistency in wearing rubber bands can bring treatment to a standstill.
What are Retainers?
Retainers do exactly what their name says: they retain your teeth from moving out of alignment, usually after braces have been removed. Some retainers are fixed in place but can also be removable. Some removable appliances are specially designed to move teeth or align jaws and probably should not be called “retainers” although for convenience, they often are.
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.
Can I wear braces even though I have crowns and/or missing teeth?
Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like a tooth with a simple filling. When teeth are missing, orthodontic treatment will aid in the alignment of the remaining 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.
Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?
Yes. Some orthodontic problems are significant enough to require early intervention. However, if a patient is not ready for treatment, we will follow that patient’s growth and development until the time is right for treatment to begin.
What is Phase 1 (early) treatment?
The primary objective for Phase 1 treatment is to develop the jaw size in order to make room for all the permanent teeth to erupt and to correct jaw growth discrepancies. Phase 1 treatment is usually initiated on children between the ages of seven and ten. Phase 1 treatment lasts about 12 to 21 months. Because they are growing rapidly at this young age, children can benefit enormously from an early phase of orthodontic treatment utilizing appliances that encourage the proper growth of the upper and lower jaws with minimal force and discomfort. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites or harmful oral habits and can also be used to improve self-esteem and self-image.
What if I put off Phase 1 treatment?
The disadvantage of waiting for complete eruption of permanent teeth and having only one phase of treatment for someone with a jaw discrepancy is facing the possibility of a compromised result and/or permanent tooth extractions that may not be stable once growth is complete or surgery to fix the bite.
What is Phase 2 treatment?
Phase 2 treatment is initiated when all permanent teeth have erupted and usually requires braces on all teeth for a short period of time. The length of the braces treatment will vary depending on how rotated the teeth erupt and most importantly how well the patient complied during the Phase 1.The purpose of Phase 2 is to place each tooth into its exact location in the mouth. When the teeth are properly placed, the teeth will function together as they should. This will make it easier to keep them clean and healthy and give you a smile that exudes beauty and confidence. Once the braces are finished, retainers are worn to maintain the great, new smile.
Will additional jaw growth allow for self-correction of crowded teeth or other bite problems?
Usually not. The jaws grow in the back to allow for the eruption of 12-year molars and wisdom teeth, but not in the front. In most children, the available space decreases as larger permanent teeth erupt. Either in a child or an adult, when left untreated, orthodontic problems usually become worse. Treatment by an orthodontist to correct bite problems is often less costly than the additional dental care required to treat the more serious problems that can develop later in life.
Will my child need full braces if they have Phase One treatment?
It is best to assume that your child will need full braces even after Phase 1 treatment. The period following Phase 1 is called the “resting period”, during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations. Remember Phase 1 is to address skeleton discrepancies and utilize growth patterns to align the upper and lower Jaws.
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 by making it easier for you to clean your teeth
- 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 when biting together
- Spaces between the teeth
How long does the average treatment take?
Utilizing the newest technologies, we now anticipate total treatment times averaging 14 to 18 months from start to finish. Obviously some more demanding cases can take longer and more basic cases can finish sooner, but we complete most of our cases in that time period.
How often will appointments be?
Early on, most appointments are 10-12 weeks apart. As treatment progresses, we average 6-8 weeks between visits.
Can I drop my child off for an appointment?
Yes. We understand you have a busy schedule and we are happy to help make the most of your time. We do request that you check in with our patient manager before dropping off and again when you pick up your child to make sure that we have a chance to communicate your child’s progress.
How many appointments will be needed altogether?
Typically, a total of 10-12 appointments will be required for treatment to be complete.
What happens at a typical visit?
Once the patient is seated, the technician will review the chart to see what is planned for the day’s appointment. A doctor is consulted prior to commencing work. Then, the necessary procedures are performed. Upon completion of the days work, the doctor checks and reviews the work performed and plans the next appointment. All questions are answered and comfort is assured prior to the patient leaving. Most visits end with a review of the day’s work with the accompanying parent.
Can I return to school the day my braces are put on?
Yes. There is no reason to have to miss school after an orthodontic appointment.
Will braces interfere with playing sports?
No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Which you can get in office for $10.00.
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.
If I don’t want my braces to show, what other alternatives are there?
Give ceramic, tooth-colored, clear braces a try. We have the latest in tooth-colored brackets, if you prefer the ultimate in cosmetics. They cost a little bit more than the metal brackets, but some people prefer them. Our metal brackets are low profile and very small, so they are very cosmetic as well!
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. Your dentist is an important part of our team in keeping your smile healthy and beautiful. Remember if you do not have one we are more than glad to help refer you to a great dentist.