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 and achieve facial balance.

Why is Orthodontic Treatment Important?

Everyone wants a beautiful smile – and everyone should have a healthy one. The orthodontist’s goal is to achieve both for the patient.

Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This may contribute to conditions that cause not only tooth decay, but eventual gum disease and tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, excess stress on the supporting bone and gum tissue, or misalignment of the jaw joints with possible resultant chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck.

The importance of an attractive smile should not be underestimated. A pleasing appearance is a vital asset to one’s self-confidence, improving one’s general attitude toward life.

When should treatment begin?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7, or earlier if an orthodontic problem is detected by parents or the family dentist. Early intervention achieves results that are unattainable once the face and jaws have finished growing. Early intervention frequently makes the completion of treatment at a later age easier and less time-consuming.

What about Adult Treatment?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. The health of an individual’s teeth, gums and supporting bone is what is most important in determining the prospects for improving an adult’s smile and dental health.

Care and Maintenance of Appliances During Treatment

For more information regarding the care and maintenance of your braces, check out this page, or visit www.braces.org, the official site of the American Association of Orthodontists.

Common Orthodontic Emergencies (And How To Deal With Them)

Here are some ways to ensure your comfort when your appliance becomes loose or feel uncomfortable:

Loose Braces

If a brace becomes loose or unglued from the tooth, normally the brace will remain attached to the wire and should not cause any discomfort. Because the brace is no longer attached to the tooth we will need to re-bond it. This is not an emergency, and the bracket will be rebonded at your next visit.

Loose Bands

If a band (the very back brace that looks like a silver ring) becomes loose or comes completely off of the tooth, we will need to re-cement the band at the soonest available time if a headgear or a lip bumper attaches to it. This can take approximately 20 minutes. If headgear or a lip bumper is being worn, please bring the headgear or the lip bumper to the appointment as it may need adjustment after the band has been re-cemented.

Poking Wire

Occasionally during orthodontic treatment, as the teeth begin to move, the wires may become longer in the back, and feel “pokey”. This is normal, and may be relieved temporarily by placing a small ball of wax in the area to cover the sharp end or you may clip it yourself with small wire cutters.

Sore Lips & Teeth

During the initial adjustment of having braces, you may experience sore lips and cheeks due to the braces rubbing up against them. Usually this is just a temporary situation. You can relieve some irritation by placing a small ball of wax over the braces that are causing the discomfort. If canker sores develop, it may be helpful to rinse with a warm glass of salt water 2-3 times per day. This will help the sore lips and cheeks heal faster.

Sore Teeth

The teeth may become sore from the pressure of the braces moving the teeth. This is also normal especially in the initial stages of braces, as well as after an orthodontic visit, due to new wires or adjustments, which may leave the teeth feeling “tightened”. Softer foods should be eaten to make eating more comfortable during these periods. It may be necessary to take some pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil.

Other Questions & Problems

Please don’t hesitate to call our office if you have any problems or questions. We would like you to have a pleasant experience wearing braces while we help you achieve a Beautiful & Healthy Smile at (207) 885-1005.