Click on the following questions to be directed to the answers
  1. At what age can people have orthodontic treatment?

  2. What causes orthodontic problems (malocclusions)

  3. What are the most commonly treated orthodontic problems?

  4. Why are retainers needed after orthodontic treatment?

  5. Will my child's tooth alignment change later?

  6. What about the wisdom teeth (third molars) - should they be removed?

  7. What different types of braces are available?

  8. Do I have to pay extra for clear or gold braces or colored ligatures?

  9. Is orthodontic care expensive?

1) At what age can people have orthodontic treatment?

Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics, because healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age. Because monitoring growth and development is crucial to managing some orthodontic problems well, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7. Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if treated early. Waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction of some problems more difficult.

An orthodontic evaluation at any age is advisable if a parent, family dentist or the patient’s physician has noted a problem.

2) What causes orthodontic problems (malocclusions)

Most malocclusions are inherited, but some are acquired.

Inherited problems include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra or missing teeth, and a wide variety of other irregularities of the jaws, teeth and face.

Acquired malocclusions can be caused by trauma (accidents), thumb, finger or dummy (pacifier) sucking, airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids, dental disease or premature loss of primary (baby) or permanent teeth. Whether inherited or acquired, many of these problems affect not only alignment of the teeth but also facial development and appearance as well.

3) What are the most commonly treated orthodontic problems?

Crowding: Teeth may be aligned poorly because the dental arch is small and/or the teeth are large. The bone and gums over the roots of extremely crowded teeth may become thin and recede as a result of severe crowding. Impacted teeth (teeth that should have come in, but have not), poor biting relationships and undesirable appearance may all result from crowding.

Overjet or protruding upper teeth: Upper front teeth that protrude beyond normal contact with the lower front teeth are prone to injury, often indicate a poor bite of the back teeth (molars), and may indicate unevenness in jaw growth. Commonly, protruded upper teeth are associated with a lower jaw that is short in proportion to the upper jaw. Thumb and finger sucking habits can also cause a protrusion of the upper incisor teeth.

Deep overbite: A deep overbite or deep bite occurs when the lower incisor (front) teeth bite too close or into the gum tissue behind the upper teeth. When the lower front teeth bite into the palate or gum tissue behind the upper front teeth, significant bone damage and discomfort can occur. A deep bite can also contribute to excessive wear of the incisor teeth.

Open bite: An open bite results when the upper and lower incisor teeth do not touch when biting down. This open space between the upper and lower front teeth causes all the chewing pressure to be placed on the back teeth. This excessive biting pressure and rubbing together of the back teeth makes chewing less efficient and may contribute to significant tooth wear.

Spacing: If teeth are missing or small, or the dental arch is very wide, space between the teeth can occur. The most common complaint from those with excessive space is poor appearance.

Crossbite: The most common type of a crossbite is when the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth (toward the tongue). Crossbites of both back teeth and front teeth are commonly corrected early due to biting and chewing difficulties.

Underbite or lower jaw protrusion: About 3 to 5 percent of the population has a lower jaw that is to some degree longer than the upper jaw. This can cause the lower front teeth to protrude ahead of the upper front teeth creating a crossbite. Careful monitoring of jaw growth and tooth development is indicated for these patients.

4) Why are retainers needed after orthodontic treatment?

After braces are removed, the teeth can shift out of position if they are not stabilized. Retainers provide that stabilization. They are designed to hold teeth in their corrected, ideal positions until the bones and gums adapt to the treatment changes. Wearing retainers exactly as instructed is the best insurance that the treatment improvements last for a lifetime.

5) Will my child's tooth alignment change later?

Studies have shown that as people age, their teeth may shift. This variable pattern of gradual shifting, called maturational change, probably slows down after the early 20s, but still continues to a degree throughout life for most people. Even children whose teeth developed into ideal alignment and bite without treatment may develop orthodontic problems as adults. The most common maturational change is crowding of the lower incisor (front) teeth. Wearing retainers as instructed after orthodontic treatment will stabilize the correction. Beyond the period of full-time retainer wear, night time retainer wear can prevent maturational shifting of the teeth.

6) What about the wisdom teeth (third molars) - should they be removed?

In about three out of four cases where teeth have not been removed during orthodontic treatment, there are good reasons to have the wisdom teeth removed, usually when a person reaches his or her mid- to late-teen years. Careful studies have shown, however, that wisdom teeth do not cause or contribute to the progressive crowding of lower incisor teeth that can develop in the late teen years and beyond. Your orthodontist, in consultation with your family dentist, can determine what is right for you.

7) What different types of braces are available?

Metal braces are the most popular with kids and teenagers. They love using different colors of ligature ties. These braces are much smaller than ever before.

  • Translucent ceramic braces are the most popular with adults. You have to be very close to someone to be able to see them. Yet, because they are a ceramic material, they are more fragile. Treatment time is often slightly longer with ceramic braces.
  • Invisalign™ is a new system that uses a series of clear polymer overlays to straighten teeth. However, not all patients are candidates for Invisalign treatment. Please schedule an appointment with our office for a complimentary evaluation.
  • "Gold" braces are a new addition to our line of brackets. They are stainless steel braces coated with gold colored plating. They have the strength of metal, but blend in with the color of the teeth much better. That is because most teeth have a natural yellow tint. Quite often, we will put ceramic braces on the top teeth and gold braces on the bottom.
  • Lingual braces are placed on the back of the teeth. Lingual braces are considerably more expensive than conventional braces, and treatment often takes longer with lingual braces.

8) Do I have to pay extra for clear or gold braces or colored ligatures?

Clear and gold graces are slightly more expensive than silver ones, but the additional cost is a small fraction of the cost of orthodontic treatment. "Colored braces" don’t cost extra.

9) Is orthodontic care expensive?

When you consider the benefits can last a lifetime, the cost of orthodontic treatment is really quite reasonable. Orthodontics is widely regarded as dentistry's best value.

Financing is usually available and our office offers payment programs that will likely meet your needs. In addition, many insurance plans now include orthodontics.

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.

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