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Question: What is an Orthodontist?

Answer: An Orthodontist not only specializes in straightening teeth, but specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists receive two or more years of education beyond their four years in dental school in an ADA-approved orthodontic training program. Their care involves the use of corrective appliances, such as braces, in order to: straighten teeth, correct bite irregularities, close unsightly gaps, and bring teeth and lips into proper alignment.

Question: What is Orthodontics?

Answer: Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Crooked teeth and teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean and are at risk of being lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain. Teeth that are crooked or not in the right place can also detract from one’s appearance. The benefits of orthodontic treatment include a healthier mouth, a more pleasing appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime. Orthodontics can also be used to help with procedures in other areas of dentistry, such as cosmetic dentistry or implant dentistry, where space may need to be added or eliminated. In young children, orthodontic treatment helps to guide proper jaw growth and permanent tooth eruption.

Question: How do I know if I am a candidate for braces or some other form of orthodontics?

Answer: Your dentist or orthodontist can determine whether you can benefit from orthodontic treatment. They base their decision on diagnostic tools that include a full medical and dental health history, a clinical exam, plaster models of your teeth, and special X-rays and photographs.

If you have any of the following, you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment:
Overbite, sometimes called “buck teeth” — where the upper front teeth lie too far forward (stick out) over the lower teeth Underbite — a “bulldog” appearance where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth too far back Crossbite — when the upper teeth do not slightly overlap the lower teeth when biting together normally as they should, but rather the lower teeth are overlapping the uppers Open bite — space between the biting surfaces of the front and/or side teeth when the back teeth bite together Misplaced midline— when the center of your upper front teeth does not line up with the center of your lower front teeth Spacing — gaps, or spaces, between the teeth that occur naturally, or as a result of missing teeth Crowding — when there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate.

Question: How Does Orthodontic Treatment Work?

Answer: Many different types of appliances, both fixed and removable, are used to help move teeth, retrain muscles and affect the growth of the jaws. These appliances work by placing gentle pressure on the teeth and jaws. Fixed appliances include:
Braces — the most common fixed appliances, braces consist of bands, wires and/or brackets. Bands are fixed around the teeth or tooth and used as anchors for the appliance, while brackets are most often bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires are passed through the brackets and attached to the bands. Tightening the arch wire puts tension on the teeth, gradually moving them to their proper position. Braces are usually adjusted monthly to bring about the desired results, which may be achieved within a few months to a few years. Today’s braces are smaller, lighte  and show far less metal than in the past. They come in bright colors for kids as well as clear styles preferred by many adults.

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