How do I know if my child is in need of orthodontic treatment?
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. Conversely, there are some problems that look intimidating and complex which will resolve on their own. Asking your general dentist is a good reference, but we are your best resource since orthodontics is one of our specialties. Our initial orthodontic exam is complimentary, and we would be more than happy to see your child and make any recommendations necessary. You can request this complimentary orthodontic exam by calling our office or by filling out our online Consult Request.
What are the early symptoms of orthodontic problems?
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 teeth? 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.
What age should my child be seen by an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age 7. We feel very strongly about this recommendation because early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later. This is one of our primary reasons for offering a complimentary orthodontic exam to anyone seeking to gain more information on their child's bite.
Can you be too old for braces?
No, age is not a factor, only the health of your gums and bone which support your teeth. About 20% of all orthodontic patients are adults and that number is still growing! And since we are also a periodontal office, you can be confident that we will address any gum issues you or your child may have.
Will it hurt?
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, such as Tylenol. 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.
Can I still have braces if I have missing teeth?
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 and will also provide proper alignment for your dentist to replace the missing teeth. We can discuss these options with you, which may include partial dentures, bridges or dental implants.
Questions About Treatment
What is Phase I (Interceptive Treatment) and Phase II treatment?
Phase I, or Interceptive Treatment, usually starts while the child has most of their baby teeth and a few of their permanent front incisors. This stage in development is usually about the age of 7. 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 jaw imbalances, 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 usually occurs a number of years later. Usually we are waiting for most permanent teeth to erupt before Phase II begins. This most commonly occurs between the age of 11 and 14. The goal of Phase II treatment is to achieve an ideal occlusion with all of the permanent teeth.
What is Full or Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment?
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.
Does everyone need a Phase I treatment?
Absolutely not! Only certain bites require early intervention. All others can wait until most if not all their permanent teeth erupt.
Can I wait on Phase I/Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment until my child is older?
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 increased costs.
What is the length or duration of orthodontic treatment?
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 patient's cooperation, and the degree of movement possible.
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 one expands a patients' jaw with an appliance or braces and may shave down some teeth to make everything fit.
What are the different types of braces?
- Traditional Metal Braces - You may be familiar with the colorful rubber 'A ties' that patients wear with these types of braces.
- Self-ligating Braces - These braces have a special metal door that holds the wire against the tooth instead of A ties used on traditional braces. Our office primarily uses these braces because teeth tend to move faster in the beginning of treatment and the teeth are easier to clean. You may be familiar with or have heard of In-Ovation or Damon brackets.
- Porcelain Braces - We also use a self-ligating version of tooth-colored brackets for patients who would like this option.
- Aligners - These virtually clear appliances fit intimately on the teeth, allowing for correction of minor tooth alignment problems. You may be familiar with or have heard of Invisalign or ClearCorrect.
- Removable Appliances - These appliances are similar to traditional retainers and can be modified to move teeth.
Is orthodontic care expensive?
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.