Common Orthodontic Questions
What is Orthodontics?
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, thus achieving facial balance.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists must first attend college, then complete a four-year graduate dental program at a university-level dental school accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). They must then complete an additional two- to three-year residency program of advanced dental education in orthodontics accredited by the ADA. Only dentists who have completed this advanced specialty education may become orthodontists.
What Causes Orthodontic Problems?
Most malocclusions are inherited, and some are acquired. Inherited problems include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra teeth, congenitally missing teeth and a wide range of discrepancies involving the jaws, teeth and face. Acquired problems can be caused by trauma, thumb or finger sucking, airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids, dental diseases and premature loss of baby or adult teeth. Many of these problems affect not only alignment of the teeth but facial development and appearance as well.
At What Age Should My Child See an Orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that your child be evaluated by age 7. An orthodontic screening no later than this enables the orthodontist to detect and evaluate problems that exist, advise the parent on whether treatment will be necessary, and determine the best time for any treatment. Early detection of orthodontic problems is important so that early corrective action can be taken and more difficult treatment later can be avoided.
Can Adults Have Braces?
Absolutely! Age is not a factor in considering orthodontic treatment. Any adult in good general health with healthy gums and good bone support for the teeth is a good candidate for orthodontic treatment.
What is the Duration of Orthodontic Treatment?
Braces may be in place between 6 and 30 months, or in rare instances longer. This depends on the development of the dentition, the severity of the problem, the patient's cooperation and the degree of tooth movement required.
What is the Difference Between Extraction and Non-Extraction Therapies?
Each treatment is a way to address crowding of the teeth. Extraction therapy is a technique in which one or more teeth are removed to make room for the other teeth in the mouth. In non-extraction therapy, by contrast, the patient's jaw is expanded and/or the shape and size of some teeth are adjusted to make them fit within the jaw. Our office's treatment philosophy is very conservative, and we make every effort to avoid extraction. However, for severe crowding and severe jaw discrepancy, extraction may be required.Back to top