Types of Treatment
How do you know if a person needs orthodontic treatment?
It is usually difficult to know if treatment is necessary because orthodontic problems can occur even if the front teeth look straight. Asking your general dentist is a good reference, but we are the best resource since orthodontics is all we do. Our initial exam is complimentary, so it only makes sense to get a free orthodontic consultation with us. We will be happy to give necessary recommendations, and Dr. Simon is happy to give expert answers.
What are the signs or symptoms of orthodontic problems?
Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following may help prompt you to seek our orthodontic advice.
Look at the teeth at any age. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps among your child's teeth or overlapping teeth, orthodontic treatment is recommended.
Have your child bite down all the way, but keep their lips open so you can see the teeth. Do the front top teeth line up with the bottom? Do the top teeth protrude away from the bottom teeth? Do the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth? Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth? All these are indicators for potential orthodontic treatment.
Look at the alignment of the jaw. Does the jaw shift off center when biting down? If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, it could be a skeletal or jaw bone problem, which requires early orthodontic intervention.
These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.
At what age should an orthodontist see my child? Do all baby teeth have to fall before starting orthodontic treatment?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age seven. All baby teeth do not need to be gone before starting orthodontic treatment. In fact, early detection of some orthodontic problems are important in order to take early preventive/interceptive treatment and avoid more difficulty later. Early treatment also potentially prevents extraction of teeth, which is needed in some cases if the teeth get overcrowded. Again, since our initial consultation is complimentary, it helps to get an orthodontic consultation as soon as possible.
Can you be too old for braces?
No, age is not a factor. So long as the gums and bone which supports your teeth are healthy, any age is suitable for braces or orthodontic treatment. About 30% of our orthodontic patients are adults, and that number is still growing! Our oldest patient treated was 72 years old.
Will orthodontic treatment hurt?
Orthodontic treatment mechanics have advanced technologically during the last few years. Introduction of new high-tech wires, smaller braces, innovative accessories and stress of preventive/interceptive treatments make today’s orthodontic treatment fairly comfortable. We do not use any anesthetic injections for any of the procedures. As a rule, braces can cause a little discomfort initially until one gets used to them. Teeth can get a little sore the day after every adjustment appointment, but they are not painful. This annoyance can be relieved easily with over-the-counter pain relievers, if needed. Most of our patients do not need to take any pain relievers. Our staff is always on hand to answer any braces questions.
Can I still have braces if I have missing teeth?
Yes. When teeth are missing, adjacent teeth will drift into the empty space. This will cause a functional, esthetic or periodontal problems. Orthodontic treatment will correct and prevent these problems from happening and will also provide proper alignment for your dentist to replace the missing teeth.
What is Phase I (Early Interceptive Treatment) and Phase II treatment?
Phase I or Early Interceptive Treatment usually starts while the child has most of their baby teeth with few of their permanent teeth. The goal of Phase I treatment is to intercept moderate or severe orthodontic problems early in order to reduce or eliminate them. These problems include jaw bone problems, cross bites and developing crowding. This phase does not use full braces as braces are never put on baby teeth. Generally we use expanders, removable appliances, headgear and retainers during this phase. Most Phase I patients require a Phase II treatment in order to achieve an ideal bite.
If Dr. Simon feels like early treatment is necessary, it can be beneficial to the long term health of your smile.
What is Full or Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment?
Braces are on the upper and lower permanent teeth, taking care of all the problems.
Does everyone need a Phase I treatment?
Absolutely not! But in many cases early intervention helps a lot. We will offer Phase I treatment only if it makes a difference in the future. Otherwise, we keep patients for a complimentary recall consultation every six months.
What is the length or duration of orthodontic treatment?
In our office, Phase I treatment usually lasts 12-14 months. Phase II or full braces treatment may last from 18 to 36 months. In both situations, we generally see patients every six to eight weeks for their adjustment appointment.
Treatment time and success depend on multiple factors such as, the age of the patient, the severity of the problem, the patient's cooperation and the speed of natural response of teeth movement.
What is extraction and non-extraction therapy, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Extraction therapy is a technique where some teeth are removed to make room for the other teeth in your child's mouth. This is in contrast to non-extraction therapy where one expands patients' jaw and/or shave some teeth to reduce their width to make everything fit. We will make a thorough evaluation at the consultation and discuss options to determine which procedure best suits the patient. Dr. Simon will always try to save all the teeth, if possible.