Please click on the questions below to view responses.
- What is the best age for my child to see an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child visit a certified orthodontist no later than age 7. Even though primary teeth are still present at this age, an experienced orthodontist can assess the size and direction of growth of the jaw bones as well as the erupting teeth now and determine then if a problem could be developing that will worsen over time by waiting. In some cases, simple devices called expanders can be fastened to the teeth and can widen and enlarge the jaw bone just enough to make room for all of the erupting permanent teeth. This strategy and treatment has proven itself to prevent the unnecessary removal of permanent teeth and in some cases even prevent jaw surgery being required. It is important to realize that orthodontists typically provide screening these exams by age 7 free of charge and the information obtained from these can prove to be very useful and valuable in planning for your child’s future smile.
- Is Invisalign® right for me and will it correct my smile?
Invisalign is an option for some patients that require certain types of tooth movement in order for them to achieve their particular treatment goals. In some cases, braces may still need to be worn for some period of time in order to receive full correction or a desired outcome. In our practice, Invisalign is popular with many adult patients that are often willing to accept some compromises in their final result instead of receiving no treatment at all, usually to correct an esthetic concern. It is important to have a complete and thorough evaluation by an experienced orthodontist who has experience with a broad range of treatment options in order for you to be in the best position possible when considering all of your treatment options.
- Are all braces the same, and do they all yield the same results?
Absolutely not! There are many types of braces and experience levels among orthodontists, and it is important for someone considering orthodontic treatment to research these important differences. In our office, it is very important for us to provide patients with different options for treatment. This philosophy has required me to acquire a broad spectrum of experience with all the different types of braces in order to advise patients in the most appropriate manner regarding their treatment. For example, our office was the first office in central Florida to acquire the SureSmile technology, which is the most advanced and sophisticated orthodontic treatment available anywhere in the world. This technology can help create beautiful smiles in almost half the time that it takes for traditional braces. In addition, we have a considerable amount of experience with using clear removable aligners known as Invisalign and we also offer clear, colored, neon, metal or gold traditional braces.
- Is there a difference between a dentist and an orthodontist doing my orthodontic treatment?
A certified orthodontist is required to study and train an additional two to three years and complete an accredited orthodontic graduate residency program in addition to the training that is required to become a dentist. Because of this intensive and rigorous additional specialty training, orthodontists are usually in the best position possible to advise you on the best treatment options that are available to you and can usually then administer the appropriate care to achieve the best results possible in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Since 1992, our office has had the pleasure and opportunity to provide direct patient care in orthodontics, and we have successfully treated nearly 20,000 patients.
- Why are permanent tooth extractions or jaw surgery needed for some cases and for others not?
Permanent tooth extractions are usually required when the size of the teeth combined severely exceeds the space provided by the size or space in the jaw bone. Sometimes extractions are also necessary to balance facial features or correct a bite problem by masking an underlying jaw bone problem. In our practice, we require very few extractions of permanent teeth due to our conservative prevention philosophy along with appropriate timing of non-extraction treatment strategies aimed at eliminating the need for extractions. Sometimes, the unnecessary removal of permanent teeth can actually adversely affect the end facial result by flattening or “caving in” the facial profile. That is why a thorough and complete evaluation done by an experienced orthodontist with this conservative approach is necessary to avoid an undesirable result. Jaw surgery can also be avoided in many patients by timely intervention during an age when a child’s jaws are still growing, usually by age 7.
- How long can I expect my treatment to take, and how long will retainers be required after to keep my smile perfect?
The amount of treatment time largely depends on the skill and experience of the orthodontist, the degree of severity of your condition, and the particular treatment strategy chosen to treat your particular problem. Advanced technology, such as SureSmile, used in our practice has proven to reduce treatment time safely by as much as 50 percent, as compared to traditional braces. On average, these patients save as much as an amazing 10 to 12 months of treatment time using this method. This method is ideal for busy moms or professionals who value their time and recognize the value to this time-saving approach. Whatever method is chosen, retainers are usually required indefinitely in order to preserve your smile for a lifetime. In our practice, patients are given a well fitting retainer on the same day that their braces are removed and usually asked to wear them every night for one full year after braces are removed. After that, patients are instructed to wear them at least one or two nights per week.
- Why are retainers needed to be worn following any type of orthodontic treatment?
Retainer wear is necessary because the body and facial structures can continue to undergo significant changes throughout life. If left without retainers, teeth will shift to compensate for these changes and usually attempt to revert back to their original pre-treatment position. The static and unchanging characteristics of retainers serve to counteract or prevent any unwanted changes to your smile by “locking in” or retraining the teeth to stay in their original position if worn as instructed. New advances such as clear Essix style retainers are also more comfortable and esthetically pleasing and usually require minimal or no adjustment as compared to old fashioned Hawley style retainers, which require constant maintenance and frequent adjustments due to wire components and more bulky acrylic. Sometimes “fixed” or lingual retainers can be used to prevent lower teeth from shifting in a backward direction but are usually used in tandem with an upper removable retainer. To be assured of maintaining your smile for a lifetime, a good fitting retainer which is closely adapted to your teeth becomes your insurance policy in order to preserve your smile for the rest of your life.
- Is there much pain or discomfort that I can expect with orthodontic treatment?
Our office uses the most advanced techniques and the latest technologies available in order to deliver the lightest forces possible in order to move teeth safely to their correct position. It is very important to us to keep you comfortable and safe throughout your orthodontic experience with us. It is also expected that you will need to spend the first few weeks getting used to your new appliances. While pain is rare, any minor discomfort can be managed at any time by over-the-counter pain medication.
- How often do I need to come to the office for adjustments?
Depending on the technology selected for your treatment, the time interval between appointments and frequency of visits is carefully prescribed and determined at each visit by the doctor. Space-age arch wires made out of special alloys such as nickel titanium now provide lighter forces for longer periods of time, thus requiring fewer and less frequent adjustment appointments. Copper nickel titanium can tighten automatically when exposed to warm fluid like coffee or tea. SureSmile technology requires even fewer adjustments due to the ability to create custom arch wires with robotic technology for maximum efficiency and accuracy. Patients can also reduce their treatment time by as much as 50 percent and save up to 12 months of time using this method and require only five or six office visits. On average, patients can expect 8 to 12 weeks between their appointments in order to fully benefit from and realize the full effectiveness and efficiencies that these advanced systems can provide that are now available in our office.
- Am I too old for orthodontic treatment, and what are my options for considering adult treatment?
Because of the many advances in dentistry today, most adults now expect to keep all of their teeth for their entire life. Our practice is made up of 40 percent adult patients who understand the value of a quality smile and the importance of maintaining a healthy bite in order to prevent other dental problems and gum disease. Unlike days of the past, there are many choices and options for adult patients ranging from using clear removable aligners known as Invisalign, to the hyper efficient SureSmile technology, which can transform an adult smile in as few as six to nine months and only five or six office visits. It has never been easier and more convenient to have a great smile the way you want it in a manner that fits into your lifestyle and budget.
- Why are kids wearing braces so early these days even when baby teeth are still present?
Because modern technology in orthodontics has allowed us to detect problems much earlier than we used to, the fact remains that a certain percentage of these problems will worsen over time and perhaps require more invasive procedures such as even jaw surgery or permanent tooth extractions if left unmanaged. The goal with most early interceptive treatment is to manage these conditions and prevent them from worsening. In this case, some minimal bracing or expander therapy may be required to selectively make any necessary changes to the developing condition in order to avoid major problems from occurring and perhaps requiring unnecessary costs and expenses. When this early treatment is performed, we are careful as to not treat the same problem twice, but rather complete what was not finished during the first phase. In this way, lengthy and unnecessary treatments can be avoided, and patients examined at age 7 who do not have problems that will worsen over time can defer any treatments later on when permanent teeth erupt or simply may require no treatment at all. For your piece of mind, it is important to have your child examined by an orthodontist no later than age 7.