Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions From The Patient


How do I know if my child is in need of orthodontic treatment?


It is usually difficult for you to determine if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Also, there are some problems that look intimidating and complex which will resolve on their own.


What are the early symptoms of orthodontic problems?


Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following symptoms may help in prompting you to seek our orthodontic advice.


Ask your child to open their mouth, and let you look at their teeth.  If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps between your child's teeth or overlapping teeth, your child may need orthodontic treatment.


Ask your child to bite all the way down, but keeping their lips open so you can see their teeth.  Do the front top teeth line up with the bottom?  Do the top teeth protrude out 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 your child's jaw.   Does the jaw shift off center when your child bites down?  If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, your child may have a skeletal problem, which requires early orthodontic intervention.


These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.


What age should my child be seen by an Orthodontist?


The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by the age of 7.  Early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later.


Will it hurt?


Orthodontic treatment has improved dramatically.  As a rule, braces make your teeth sore for a few days, but it is not painful.  This annoyance can be relieved with an over-the-counter pain reliever.  Today's braces are smaller, more comfortable and use technology that reduces the discomfort.  We use the latest in miniature braces and the highest quality of orthodontic materials in order to reduce the discomfort and treatment time.


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 problem.  Orthodontic treatment will correct and prevent these problems and will also provide proper alignment for your dentist to replace the missing teeth.


Is orthodontic care expensive?


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.


Can you be too old for braces?


No, age is not a factor, only the health of your gums and bone which support your teeth. About 25% of our orthodontic patients are adults and that number is still growing.


Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age.  Adults definitely can have braces and appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile.  The most common definition of an adult patient is a patient with no growth. Growth can be used to our advantage in orthodontics to treat certain skeletal malocclusions.  However, for the more common dental corrections, the lack of growth is not really a limitation to obtain the desired treatment results. A non-growing patient would typically be of age 17-18 years old and above.


The adult teeth-bone complex has different characteristics than in the adolescent, and therefore responds in a different way to the forces applied.  Although the bone is more mature, tooth movement is not much different after the first month of treatment.  However, the adult patient cannot tolerate as much initial force, the adult is more sensitive to changes in occlusion, the adult has a more mature muscular functional pattern, and there are more medical problems in adult patients all of which might interfere with tooth movement and bone retention.


In some adult patients, additional surgical or restorative treatments may be indicated before, during or after orthodontic treatment to treat the jaw, the gum, the supporting bone, or the teeth.  Even so, adults still can benefit a lot from braces with the alignment of untidy teeth and the consequent improvement of facial appearance.  Braces are also very necessary for some adults due to periodontal disease or the need of missing teeth restoration.


Although many adults are now having braces, there is still a negative perception of braces not being socially acceptable or attractive.  This can be decreased remarkably with advanced cosmetic materials and techniques such as: ceramic brackets (clear or tooth-colored brackets); ceramic self-ligating brackets (clear or tooth-colored brackets with specially built-in ligature part); lingual braces (braces on the inner surfaces of teeth); as well as the so-called Invisalign (trademark) technique (no brace technique). However, since every type of cosmetic braces or technique has its own indication, please consult with our Doctor for further information.


Questions About The Treatment

What is Phase I (Interceptive Treatment) and Phase II treatment?


Phase I or Interceptive Treatment usually starts while the child has most of their baby teeth and few of their permanent front incisors.  This stage in development is usually about the age of 7.  The goal of Phase I treatment is to intercept a moderate or severe orthodontic problem early in order to reduce or eliminate it. These problems include skeletal dysplasia, cross bite and crowding.  Phase I treatment takes advantage of the early growth spurt and turns a difficult orthodontic problem into a more manageable one.  This helps reduce the need for extractions or surgery and delivers better long term results and treatment options.  Most Phase I patients require a Phase II treatment in order to achieve an ideal bite.


Phase II treatment usually occurs a number of years later.  Usually we are waiting for 12-16 more permanent teeth to erupt before Phase II begins.  This most commonly occurs at the age of 12 or 13.  The goal of Phase II treatment is to achieve an ideal occlusion with all of the permanent teeth.


What is Full or Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment?


This is another name for orthodontic treatment in the permanent dentition at any age.  It is more commonly used when a Phase I treatment was not performed.


Does everyone need a Phase I treatment?


Absolutely not! Only certain bites require early intervention.  All others can wait until most if not all their permanent teeth erupt.


Can I wait on Phase I / Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment until my child is older? 

This is not recommended.  If your child needs Phase I treatment this usually means that he/she has a difficult problem that requires attention now.  If no orthodontic action is taken, treatment options become limited, more difficult, and the long-term stability may be compromised.  In addition, it may lead to extractions, oral surgery and increased costs.


What is the length or duration of orthodontic treatment?


Braces may be on between 6 months to 30 months, or longer depending on the age of the patient, the severity of the problem, the patient's cooperation, and the degree of movement possible.


What are 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 a patient's jaw and shave down some teeth to make everything fit.