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What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed an additional 2-3 years of training in the specialty of orthodontics. They are the most well qualified experts in dentistry for managing tooth movement and guiding facial development.

What does it mean to be board certified?

According to the American Board of Orthodontics, a board certified orthodontist is a dentist who has completed an American Dental Association accredited graduate program in the specialty of orthodontics and continues to qualify his/her credentials by successfully completing a rigorous certification process. Involvement in the certification process is a demonstration of the orthodontist’s pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence. Learn more here →

When is the best time to visit the orthodontist?

Orthodontic treatment can start 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. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of 7; however, more adults are seeking orthodontic treatment to improve the way their teeth look and function. 20-25% of orthodontic patients today are adults.

What are the benefits of early treatment?

Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later stage shorter and less complicated. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing. Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:

  • guide jaw growth
  • lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
  • correct harmful oral habits
  • improve appearance
  • guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
  • improve the way lips meet

Through an early orthodontic evaluation, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile.

Why do baby teeth sometimes need to be pulled?

If the teeth are severely crowded, unerupted permanent teeth may remain impacted or erupt in undesirable positions. Along with orthodontic treatment, sequential removal of baby teeth and possibly permanent teeth can improve a severe crowding problem.

How can a child’s growth affect orthodontic treatment?

If a growing child has a severe jaw length discrepancy (lower jaw is smaller than the upper jaw), orthodontic appliances (coupled with the child’s growth) can be implemented to help the growth of the lower jaw catch up to the growth of the upper jaw. Early treatment while the child is still growing can reduce the chances of needing surgery to correct the discrepancy.

Can my child play sports while wearing braces?

Yes. Extra care should be given when participating in sports or physical activity during orthodontic treatment. Wearing a mouth guard is strongly recommended to protect your smile.

Can my child play a musical instrument while wearing braces?

Yes. An initial period of adjustment and adaptation may be required.

How long does orthodontic treatment take, and why does orthodontic treatment time sometimes last longer than anticipated?

Treatment times vary and depend on the individual patient. It is influenced by the growth rate of the child, severity of the correction necessary, patient compliance/cooperation, oral hygiene, and maintenance of appointments. Average treatment time is 18-24 months.

Do braces hurt?

Braces usually do not hurt. You may feel some discomfort and soreness for several days as your teeth, cheeks and gums get used to your new braces. Any standard pain medication can help during the adjustment period but is not necessary thereafter.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces are prescribed and designed according to the problem being treated. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces can slowly move teeth through their supporting bone to a new desirable position.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. The goal of Phase I treatment is to help guide the jaw in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and to improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Examples of this treatment are: making more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. Early treatment can avoid the need to extract permanent teeth or surgical intervention later.

Phase II, or comprehensive treatment, involves full braces when all the permanent teeth have erupted. The goal of Phase II treatment is to guide teeth to its ideal position in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, and tongue.

Why are retainers needed after treatment?

After braces are removed, teeth can shift out of position. Retainers are designed to hold teeth in their corrected, ideal positions. They are necessary to ensure your smile remains beautiful.