Your family dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having well-aligned teeth and jaws. Crowded or overlapping teeth are harder to clean and maintain. Over time, this could result in enamel discoloration, decay or periodontal disease. Other orthodontic problems such as overbites, crossbites, or underbites, to name a few, can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, excessive stress on the bone and gingival support structures of the teeth, inefficient chewing function, or the misalignment of the jaw joints. Chronic headaches, neck aches, limitation of jaw movements, and “clicking” are all symptoms of TMJ problems. Treatment by an orthodontist may prove less costly that the additional care required to treat dental problems arising from orthodontic problems. The most obvious benefit, however, is the gorgeous smile you will see in the mirror once the braces are removed.
At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?
Orthodontic treatment can be considered at any age; however, it’s been considered prudent for children to be assessed by an orthodontist by the age of 7 so that any developmental growth imbalances, habits or abnormal eruption patterns of the teeth could be evaluated. Some problems could be intercepted early allowing for a more harmonious development of the jaws and face. Early treatment can help regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, lessen the likelihood of permanent tooth extractions, reduce the possibility of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb/finger sucking habits and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment may simplify later treatment.
What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?
Phase One, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment before all of the permanent teeth have come through. This treatment can be carried out between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is often recommended to make more space for developing teeth, and to correct cross bites, over bites, under bites, or other damaging oral habits like thumb sucking or tongue thrust. Phase Two treatment is comprehensive treatment, as it involves full braces. Phase II is usually carried out after all permanent teeth have come through, between the ages of eleven and thirteen. Often, our team will only recommend comprehensive treatment if he feels Phase I treatment isn’t necessary.
Growth of the Face
The development of the face is vital to the orthodontist. It is a studied and analysed in detail. Orthodontists try their best to assess individual growing patterns of each young patient in order to plan for optimal treatment and results.
As teenagers develop, the biggest facial changes occur in the lower portion of the face. There is a notable increase in the distance from the nose to the chin. Jaw growth can have a tremendous impact on the progress and success of the treatment. This growth occurs independently from tooth movement and may alter direction in the middle of treatment resulting in an unexpected change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit. For this reason, it is often difficult to predict exactly how long a young person will be wearing braces. Cephalometric x-rays are a valuable tool used by orthodontists to evaluate growth, jaw size and relationships in addition to any asymmetries. Although these x-rays are always taken at the beginning of treatment, they are often taken during treatment if our expert team feel the growth pattern may be changing.
Obviously, careful consideration of our patient’s growth pattern will help achieve the desired treatment goals.
Is there ever a time when you are too old for braces?
As mentioned before, orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. Two of every five patients undergoing orthodontic treatment is over the age of 21. Crowded teeth, an improper bite, upper incisor protrusions and various other malocclusions are now being corrected in people of all ages.
Advanced dental technology has made the process easier and more effective than ever. Better bonding techniques, lighter, less conspicuous wires and miniaturized appliances all have encouraged adults to seek orthodontic treatment.
Simply put, it is one of the best investments you can make in your appearance and your oral health.
The major difference between adolescent and adult orthodontic treatment is that adult bones are fully grown. As well, teeth tend to take a little longer to move into their corrected position due to increased bone density.
How does orthodontic treatment work?
Orthodontic appliances are manufactured from metal, plastic or a combination materials. They may be removable or fixed. Through placing a continuous gentle force in a carefully controlled manner, braces slowly move teeth to their desired position. Technology has allowed for the miniaturization of orthodontic braces as never before, and has created “super elastic” wires which make tooth movement more predictable, more comfortable and faster.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Treatment times vary from person to person, but the average time for comprehensive treatment is from 18-30 months. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the malocclusion. Treatment time is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene, keeping regular appointments, minimizing appliance breakages (more on that later) and, most importantly, following our expert team’s instructions regarding removable appliance and elastic wear are all important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
Do braces hurt?
The placement of “brackets” on your teeth does not hurt at all. Once your braces are connected with the arch wires, you may feel some soreness of your teeth from one to four days. Some patients say their “teeth feel a little bruised.” Medication is seldom necessary. If required however, we recommend whatever analgesic you normally take for general aches and fever. As well, your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to “get used to” the braces on your teeth. Each succeeding adjustment will mean some minor discomfort, although most of our patients report a lessening of the pain as the treatment progresses.
Will braces interfere with playing sports?
Absolutely not! However, we strongly recommend that our patients protect their smiles and lips by wearing a special orthodontic mouthguard when participating in any sporting activity, especially contact sports. Complimentary mouth guards will be provided by our office and have proven to be comfortable and effective. Please avoid having custom-made or self-molded mouthguards made during treatment as these tend to cause appliance breakages.
Will braces interfere with playing a musical instrument?
No, however there may be an initial period of adjustment to the pressure of the braces on your lips and cheeks. We will show you how to mold soft wax on your braces to protect your lips.
Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?
Yes, you should absolutely continue to see your family dentist every six months or sooner for cleanings and checkups. Your family dentist and our expert team are partners in the delivery of optimum oral health.
What causes crooked teeth?
Teeth come through crookedly for a variety of reasons ranging from genetics to mouth deformities and serious oral diseases. When extra teeth or abnormally large teeth create a malocclusion (crookedness or misplacement of teeth), the culprit is usually genetic in nature. Other inherited traits involve jaws that are too small to fit a full set of teeth and misaligned jaws that did not form properly in the womb.
Can crooked teeth be prevented?
In most cases, underbites, overbites, and crooked teeth are inherited or genetic and cannot be avoided. Orthodontic treatment with braces will be necessary to correct the condition once the child is old enough to wear them. However, certain early childhood habits may also contribute to the development of crooked teeth that can be prevented. These include:
Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting
Losing baby teeth to decay before permanent teeth have naturally pushed them out of their sockets
Allowing pacifier use to continue after front teeth have erupted
Permanent teeth below the milk teeth are affected by the health of milk teeth. If baby teeth are prematurely lost because of decay or trauma, permanent teeth will shift when they start moving up. Milk teeth are like anchors for permanent teeth that help guide them as they come through through the gums.
In addition, adequate care of milk teeth is important to having healthy permanent teeth free of discolouration or decay. Harmful oral bacteria can spread into the gums and reach permanent teeth still buried in the gums. Once attached to a tooth’s enamel, bacteria will begin eroding the tooth even before it has a chance to take its first bite.
When Should My Child Start Orthodontic Treatment for Crooked Teeth?
We advise parents to bring their children around the age of seven to rule out potential issues with permanent teeth eruption. If problems are discovered treatment can start early. In fact, specific conditions such as crowding and gaps between teeth are easier to correct at an early age.
Early treatment also benefits from the growth process of the jaw, which helps move teeth to normal positions.
What Are Delays During Your Orthodontic Treatment?
Patients don’t like the thought of delaying their treatments and often ask us what they can do in between their adjustment visits to help speed things up. The first thing we want you to do is to ensure that you keep your adjustment appointments. Each visit with our expert team is carefully planned to move your teeth a specific direction in a certain time frame. It’s important to note that missing an appointment can add weeks or months to your treatment time – this is certainly true.
What Should I Do If I Experience Problems With My Device?
Next, we want you to let our team know right away if your find any problems with your braces or appliances. A missing wire, rubber band, or broken bracket can delay your treatment considerably time, so we ask that you please give us a call right away to report any issues rather than waiting until your next visit.
Ensure that you wear your rubber bands as instructed by your specialist. Most, if not all, of our patients will need to wear elastics or rubber bands at some point during their treatment. Not wearing the bands or elastics, or not wearing them enough, can slow down your treatment time. Rubber bands are critical in aligning your bite and are important for the bite-fixing phase of your treatment.
Finally, we want you to maintain good oral hygiene, just as you did before your treatment began. In addition to flossing regularly, we encourage you to brush your teeth several times a day. Not brushing will allow sugar to wear away the cement on the braces, making them less effective in moving your teeth, as well as elevate your risk of developing cavities or tooth decay, which will inevitably delay treatment time.
How do braces move my teeth?
Re-alignment your body’s natural response to light pressure applied by braces over a period of time (normally around two years). Braces work by using brackets that are cemented onto your teeth; these brackets have small slots, to take orthodontic wires. These wires are held in place by small elastic ties that fit around each individual bracket. As time progresses during your treatment, these wires apply pressure on your teeth, which sets in motion the movement of your teeth into their desired positions. As your teeth have different sizes and shapes, so do the brackets. Each bracket is custom-made for the particular tooth it will be fitted to.
When you have your braces fitted, the first wire or two will normally be fairly flexible, but still strong enough to apply a constant force on your teeth. As your teeth straighten out over time, however, our expert team will use progressively thicker and firmer wires to help move your teeth in place for an ideal bite and optimal results.
Every time you visit our practice for an adjustment, we will change your wires in order to keep applying the necessary pressure on your teeth, which is why it’s so important for you to keep your adjustment visits throughout your treatment. Most adjustment appointments are scheduled four to eight weeks apart to give your teeth time to move.
As for rubber bands and elastics, most of our patients will need to wear elastics or rubber bands at some point during their treatments. These elastics typically go from one or more of the upper braces to one or more of the lower braces, and pull on your teeth to move them in the direction they need to move in order to achieve an optimal bite.
What Will Treatment Be Like?
We explain to our patients that even with what they’ve heard, braces do not hurt when they are fitted. Yes, you will experience discomfort after your braces are placed and when your teeth start to move. Too often, our patients hear horror stories about how much it hurts to have braces fitted, so they tend to over-worry. The truth is, after their braces are on, almost all patients say was that all? because it’s actually easy and painless!
We will answer most of your other questions during your initial exam. When a patient visits our office for the first time, we provide a treatment duration estimate for achieving their ideal smile. All other questions would be answered at the following appointment when the braces are fitted. We cover everything patients need to know, from eating through to brushing with braces, but we also know that after your initial appointment, it’s natural for you to have questions about your or your child’s treatment. And we are always here for you; we are thorough and always try to answer any questions or concerns you may have. As a patient, that’s one thing you never have to worry about. You will always know what’s going on throughout your orthodontic experience.
Find out more about clear braces treatment
You can also see our orthodontic guide