Frequently Asked Questions
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is "malocclusion," which means "bad bite." The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to achieve facial balance.
All orthodontists are dentists, but only about 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists. An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists must first attend college, and then complete a four-year dental graduate program at a university dental school accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). They must then successfully complete an additional two- to three-year residency program of advanced education in orthodontics at an accredited university. Through this training, the orthodontist learns the skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development. Only dentists who have successfully completed this advanced specialty education may call themselves orthodontists.
A dentist who graduates from a specialty program becomes an orthodontic specialist who is eligible to become board certified through the voluntary examination process of The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO). Involvement in the certification process is a demonstration of the orthodontist's pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence. The certification process involves a thorough Written Examination covering all areas of information on which an orthodontist should be knowledgeable. Successful passage allows the orthodontist to present treated cases which will be evaluated by expert examiners of the Board during a Clinical Examination. Certification is now awarded for a time-limited period and the orthodontist must re-examine on a periodic basis to retain the board certified status.
No. Many times parents can identify problems early on that may need attention. If you have concerns about your smile or your bite, please call our office and we will schedule a consultation. At that appointment, we can determine your concerns, identify problems with your teeth bite and smile and chart a tentative course to a solution for you. However, it is very important that we work together with your family dentist to achieve our goals.
Because orthodontists can detect subtle problems with jaw growth or teeth while a child still has primary, or "baby," teeth present, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends all children get a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. Waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may lead to more serious problems making correction more difficult. While most children do not need interceptive orthodontic treatment, those that do benefit greatly.
Because orthodontists can detect subtle problems with jaw growth or teeth while a child still has primary, or "baby," teeth present, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends all children get a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. Waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may lead to more serious problems making correction more difficult. While most children do not need interceptive orthodontic treatment, those that do benefit greatly. Early treatment may consist of braces, retainers, space maintainers (to minimize need for extractions) or other orthodontic appliances.
Most patients who have early treatment will require a second phase of treatment, often consisting of full braces when all the permanent teeth have erupted. Early treatment (Phase I) is not done to prevent future treatment. Instead, it is to address problems that if left alone will lead to more serious dental health problems. Phase I treatment cannot correct all of the alignment and bite problems because the patient does not have all the...
In general, active treatment time with orthodontic appliances (braces) ranges from one to three years. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take only a few months. The actual time depends on the growth of the patient’s mouth and face, the cooperation of the patient and the severity of the problem. Mild problems usually require less time, and some individuals respond faster to treatment than others. Use of rubber bands and/or headgear, if prescribed by the orthodontist, contributes to completing treatment as scheduled.
While orthodontic treatment requires a time commitment, patients are rewarded with healthy teeth, proper jaw alignment and a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime. Teeth and jaws in proper alignment look better, work better, contribute to general physical health and can improve self-confidence.
Absolutely! It is very important that you see your dentist at least every six months while you have braces on so that you can be checked for cavities and to have your teeth cleaned. For some patients, even more frequent cleanings are recommended.
The actual cost of treatment depends on several factors, including the severity of the patient’s problem and the treatment approach selected. You will be able to thoroughly discuss fees and payment options before any treatment begins. Generally, treatment fees may be paid over the course of active treatment making it very affordable. Insurance plans or other employer-sponsored payment programs may be helpful.