What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is a specialized form of dentistry focusing on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.
Who is an orthodontist?
Orthodontic problems require specialized care. Patients who have dental and facial irregularities should see an orthodontist. An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has completed at least two additional years of graduate training in orthodontics at an accredited program after graduation from dental school. An orthodontist’s specific qualifications in the design, application and control of corrective appliances will bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment for optimal facial balance.
What age should my child be seen by an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends your child be evaluated by an orthodontist by age seven. Early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later.
Can you be too old for braces?
No. Age is not a factor, but the health of your gums and the bone which supports your teeth can be a factor. About 20% of our orthodontic patients are adults and that number is growing.
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.
How can I take care of my teeth if I'm wearing braces or a retainer?
- ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
- Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
- If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you brush your teeth, floss, and remember to keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost or broken.
- Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by your orthodontist. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
- During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly cavities).
- Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes) or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).
- Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.
What are braces?
Braces are used by your orthodontist to help you improve the look and feel of your smile. There are several different types of braces to choose from, including:
- Clear braces
- Ceramic braces
- Lingual braces
- Self-ligating braces
- Invisible braces
- Traditional metal braces
If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?
The amount of time spent in braces will vary depending on the individual patient, because every smile responds differently to treatment. Treatment times can take anywhere between six and 30 months, but most standard treatments take about 20-24 months.
Do braces hurt?
Orthodontic treatment has improved dramatically over the years. 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 provided you are not allergic to them and there are no medical contraindications. Today's braces are smaller, more comfortable and utilize technology which reduces discomfort. We use both the latest in self-ligating braces and the highest quality of orthodontic materials in order to reduce discomfort and treatment time.
Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?
With braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces. You should also floss daily to get in between your braces where your brush isn't able to reach. Your orthodontist can show you how to properly brush and floss once your braces are placed.
If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?
Yes! In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can't reach. This causes bacteria to build up that can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.
Will my braces interfere with my school activities like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?
Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.
How do I schedule my next appointment?
Simply call our practice! Our front desk staff will be happy to help schedule your next appointment at your convenience. If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know and we will provide you with all of the information you need.
How do I know if my child is in need of orthodontic treatment?
There are many problems which can exist even though the teeth may look straight. Conversely, there are some problems which look intimidating and complex but will resolve on their own. Asking your general dentist is a good reference, but we are your best resource since orthodontics is our specialty. Our initial exam is complimentary and we are happy to see your child to make any necessary recommendations.
What are early symptoms of orthodontic problems?
Although determining whether treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following symptoms may help guide you in seeking our orthodontic advice (these are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems): Ask your child to open his/her mouth, and look at their teeth. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps between the teeth or overlapping teeth, your child may need orthodontic treatment. Ask your child to bite all the way down while 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 20% of the bottom teeth? Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth? These are all 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.
What are extraction and non-extraction therapy, and what are the advantages / 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 no permanent teeth are removed, and it may involve expansion of the patient’s jaws and reducing the size of some of the teeth to relieve any crowding. After a comprehensive clinical exam and review of diagnostic records, Dr. Carcara will advise you as to which option is best for your individual case.
Is orthodontic care expensive?
Considering the time spent, orthodontics is regarded as dentistry's best value. 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. 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.