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Orthodontics


Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an accredited advanced education residency program following dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.

  • A more attractive smile
  • Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Possible increase in self-confidence
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth

Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics (also known as orthognathic surgery) corrects jaw irregularities, improve facial appearances and increase the patient's ability to chew, speak and breathe.

Surgical orthodontics straightens jaws, and moving the jaw also moves the teeth. Therefore, braces are always performed in conjunction with jaw correction to helps make sure teeth are in their proper positions after surgery.

Surgical orthodontic treatment is considered for patients with improper bites (underbite, overbite, open bite) and those with facial esthetic concerns. Jaw growth must be nearly completed (typically by age 18 for girls and 21 for boys) before jaw surgery can be performed, but pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior.

Surgical orthodontics straightens jaws, and moving the jaw also moves the teeth. Therefore, braces are always performed in conjunction with jaw correction to helps make sure teeth are in their proper positions after surgery.

Surgical orthodontic treatment is considered for patients with improper bites (underbite, overbite, open bite) and those with facial esthetic concerns. Jaw growth must be nearly completed (typically by age 18 for girls and 21 for boys) before jaw surgery can be performed, but pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior.

For adult orthodontic patients with severe, irregular bites, jaw surgery may be a more likely solution because their jaws are no longer growing.

During pre-surgical orthodontic treatment, you wear braces and visit your orthodontist for scheduled adjustments. As your teeth move with the braces, you may think that your bite is getting worse, but when your jaws are placed into proper alignment during orthognathic surgery, the teeth will fit into their proper positions.

Surgery is usually performed in the hospital by an oral surgeon. In lower jaw surgery, the tooth-bearing portion of the jaw is moved forward or backward, as needed. In upper jaw surgery, the jaw can be repositioned forward or backward, or the jaw can be raised or lowered. Additional procedures like chin augmentation and rhinoplasty may be paired with the main procedure and can be performed at the same time by the same surgeon.

When you have completed surgery, you should be able to return to school or work within about two weeks. After the necessary healing time (about 4-8 weeks), your orthodontist "fine-tunes" your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 6 to 12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Twenty to twenty five percent of orthodontic patients today are adults.

Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the arch wire that connects them are the main components. When the arch wire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

Braces


  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked
  • Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger or thumb sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth

Orthodontic treatment can be started 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 and more serious complications. It is recommended that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist or the child's physician.

Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits.

Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.

Emergency Care


True orthodontic emergencies are very rare, but when they do occur we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call the office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can't take care of yourself. We'll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.

You might be surprised to learn that you can follow our recommendations below to temporarily solve many problems yourself until you schedule an appointment with our office. After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions in your treatment plan.

The following solutions may help you relieve your discomfort:

Using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax on it to alleviate the discomfort.

If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it. If the wire comes out entirely, wrap the bracket with a tissue.

Using a tweezers, try to place your wire back into place. If doing this and using wax doesn't help, as a last resort use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If your discomfort continues, place wax on it.

If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the offending part of your appliance.

When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for about a week. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take Tylenol® or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain.

The lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. Placing Orabase® on the affected area may help; this can be found in a pharmacy. You can also put wax on the braces to lessen this. We'll show you how!