Introduction to Orthodontics

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has pursued two to three years of additional training and experience beyond dental school. They specialize in straightening teeth, correcting a misaligned jaw structure, and improving the overall function and look of your smile. Orthodontists are experts in designing a treatment option best suited for each individual patient, based on their unique oral composition and corrective needs.

Why might you need orthodontic treatment?

There are countless benefits to orthodontic treatment, with an overall result of improving both the aesthetic and overall functionality of your smile. Often times, braces and orthodontic treatment are used to correct “bad bites,” or malocclusion (teeth that are crowded or crooked). In some cases your teeth may be straight, but your upper and lower jaws may not meet properly. These jaw or tooth alignment problems may be genetic, a result from trauma, early or late tooth loss, or thumb-sucking.  

If you have an abnormal bite, correcting the problem with orthodontic treatment will not only create a nice-looking smile, but more importantly an overall healthier mouth. If left untreated, an abnormal bite could result in further oral health problems, including:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth loss
  • Affected speech and/or chewing
  • Abnormal wear to tooth enamel
  • Jaw problems (such as TMD)

When should you consider orthodontic services?

It is important to evaluate kids for orthodontic needs as early as age six, with the eruption of the first permanent tooth! Why so soon? Early detection gives your child an edge, allowing for healthier oral development. Since abnormal bites usually become noticeable between the ages of 6 and 12, orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14. Treatment that begins while a child is growing helps produce optimal results. 

How do braces work?

Thanks to advances in the materials we use, today’s braces are more comfortable than ever before (and often require fewer adjustments)! Braces consist of small brackets adhered to your teeth, connected by a wire, which is periodically adjusted by your orthodontist. These adjustments will gradually shift your teeth and jaw by applying a constant, gentle force to move the teeth into their desired location. The brackets may be metal or tooth colored. 
Treatment plans will vary based on your situation, but most people are in treatment from one to two years. This is followed by a period of wearing a retainer that holds teeth in their new positions.
While you have braces it’s important to maintain a balanced diet for the health of your teeth.  Of course, a healthy diet is always important, but eating too many sugary foods with braces can lead to plaque build-up around your brackets that could permanently stain or damage your teeth.  Avoiding foods like popcorn, corn on the cob, chewing gum, whole apples, and other sticky foods is also a good idea. .

What treatment options are available at First Impressions?

The kind of orthodontic treatment you receive will depend on your preference and the options provided by your orthodontist. Together we’ll discuss all of your options, alternatives, and the best time to start treatment; making sure that both kids and parents feel informed about – and confident with – their proposed orthodontic treatment plan.
At First Impressions, we give your child all the advantages of the latest technology to make sure he or she moves into adulthood with the best possible smile! We specialize in many orthodontic services, including conventional braces, clear braces and other functional appliances.

Ask one of our knowledgeable team members to help you choose the right option to bring out your family’s best smile!