What Do Orthodontists Do?
At Stevenson Orthodontics we believe patient education is an important part of orthodontic treatment. The following information is designed to answer the most frequently asked questions.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialty field of dentistry that includes the diagnose and correction of teeth and jaws that are in the improper position. An orthodontist is a specialist that learns the skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development. Orthodontics not only gives you a straighter, more beautiful smile, it also reduces your risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease. After orthodontic treatment, your teeth will be more likely to last a lifetime.
What Are the Most Commonly Treated Orthodontic Problems?
Most orthodontic problems are the result of a malocclusion or an improper position of the teeth when the jaws are closed. The most commonly treated orthodontic problems include:
||Crowding. Teeth that are misaligned due to a lack of room in the jaw.
||Spacing. Teeth that are gapped due to a large jaw or small teeth.
||Overbites. Upper front teeth that rest in a forward position, causing excessive wear to the incisor teeth.
||Underbites. Lower front teeth that rest in a forward position, causing these teeth to protrude ahead of the upper front teeth.
||Crossbites. Upper teeth that rest inside of the lower teeth when the jaws are closed.
||Open Bites. Upper and lower incisors that do not touch when biting down.
What Is the Best Age to Visit the Orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child has an initial consultation around the age of seven. Early treatment allows us to diagnose and prevent potential problems before they become major complications. Early intervention can also lessen overall treatment time. It is also never too late to see an orthodontist. Dr. Perry Stevenson is happy to treat every member of the family, from children to adults.
Why Is Orthodontic Treatment Important?
Crowded and crooked teeth are hard to maintain. You may find brushing and floss a difficult task. Eventually, you may experience severe gum disease and tooth decay. When left untreated, orthodontic problems will eventually become worse. You may notice abnormal wear of enamel, poor chewing function, chronic headaches, TMJ disorders, or damage to the underlying jaw bone. Correcting these issues later in life can be costly and time-consuming.
What Are the Alternatives to Braces?
Most patients are familiar with traditional metal braces and the embarrassing stigma associated with them. Thanks to technological advancements and new orthodontic techniques, we now offer an alternative to traditional braces. In most cases, these alternatives are just as effective as traditional braces. Some of these appliances include:
||Invisalign. A series of clear, plastic aligner trays that slowly move teeth into their proper positions. Invisalign is discrete, comfortable, and affordable.
||Invisalign Teen. These trays include a blue compliance indicator to ensure they are being worn. If they are not used, the indicator will not disappear. Treatment is only effective if the trays are being worn close to 24 hours a day.
||Damon Bracket System. This system includes self-ligating brackets and a memory wire that eliminates the need for elastic bands.
Talk with Dr. Perry Stevenson to learn more about the alternatives to braces.
How Can I Recognize a Potential Bite Problem?
Teeth that are protruding, crowded together, or erupting out of position are clear indications that treatment is needed. Less obvious signs are mouth breathing, frequent biting of the cheek or palate, speech difficulties, and thumb sucking that goes past 3–4 years of age. If teeth don't meet properly when the mouth closes, or if jaws make sounds or shift as they move, this may also indicate an orthodontic problem.
Does Getting Braces Hurt? What About Wearing Them?
Having braces put on is generally painless. Some people experience minor aches and pains in the first couple of days or so, as they adjust to wearing their appliances; periodic adjustments may sometimes cause soreness as well, though it typically lasts only a short time. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to alleviate any discomfort, but are usually unnecessary.
How Long Will Treatment Take?
It's different for each person, but generally the active stage of treatment (that is, wearing braces or other appliances) may take from 6–30 months. After that, a retainer is worn for at least several months more.
How Often Will I Come in for an Appointment?
It depends on what's being done, and how often you need to be monitored. During active treatment, you'll typically come into our office once every 4 to 10 weeks.
Will I Need to Have Any Teeth Extracted?
If your teeth are severely crowded (because your mouth is too small to properly accommodate all of them)—or if you have impacted teeth (teeth that are trapped beneath the gumline by other teeth)— then extraction may be necessary. In the case of younger patients, early treatment may make extraction unnecessary.
Will I Have to Watch What I Eat?
Yes—you should pass up the types of foods that could damage or become trapped in your braces. Some of these include raw vegetables, hard candy, caramel, taffy and ice cubes (fortunately, ice cream is OK). We will give you a list of foods to avoid.
Will I Be Able to Play Sports/Play My Instrument?
In a word: yes. Of course, whether you wear braces or not, we recommend you wear a mouthguard when playing most sports. Musicians are generally able to play their instruments just as they did before, but they may need a short adjustment period after getting braces.
Do I Still Need to See My Regular Dentist While I'm Getting Orthodontic Treatment?
You do—in fact, it's more important than ever! Keeping teeth free of plaque (and potentially, decay) can be challenging when you're wearing braces. Your dentist can help you avoid these problems with frequent cleanings and exams.
Will I Wear a Retainer When My Braces Come Off?
Almost always, the answer is yes: if you don't wear a retainer, your teeth can rapidly shift out of position—and then all the effort put into your treatment is lost! Your retainer helps you maintain that good-looking smile for a lifetime.
Is Orthodontic Care Very Expensive?
Orthodontic care is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. Yet its cost hasn't increased as fast as many other consumer prices, and many financing options are available that make orthodontic care affordable. Weighed against the true cost of living with problem teeth, however, orthodontic treatment can be a wise investment indeed.
Schedule an Appointment
If you would like to find out if orthodontics is right for you, call (503) 489-4546, and schedule an appointment today!