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What Is Orthodontia? 12 Things to Know

If your dentist has told you that you or your child needs orthodontia, you may have a few questions about what that is and why it’s necessary. Orthodontics is specialized dentistry that is focused on the treatment and prevention of dental or jaw abnormalities such as crooked teeth, bite problems, and jaw alignment. Orthodontists such as Dr. Bowman, DMD at Brodie Bowman Orthodontics in Fort Walton Beach, FL, use a variety of methods to treat these abnormalities.

12 Things to Know if You’re New to Orthodontia

#1: Treatment Should Begin Early

Even though orthodontic problems can be effectively implemented at any age, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the first evaluation occur as soon as there is an indication of a dental or jaw abnormality. Abnormalities can be detected in very young children, and by the age of seven, kids who have been identified as having such an abnormality should have received their initial orthodontic evaluation. While treatment may not begin this early, it’s important to monitor the condition.

Getting an evaluation at a young age allows the orthodontist to catch problems early and provide more effective corrective treatment. Interventions at this age can lead the teeth and jaw to grow and develop appropriately rather than having to correct major issues down the road. Age seven is considered the perfect age to begin orthodontic monitoring because the first molars have come in, establishing the child’s backbite, which allows professionals to evaluate alignment and other factors affecting the teeth.

#2: Crowded Teeth Cause Problems

You might think that crowded teeth, or malocclusions, are no big deal, especially if the crowding occurs primarily with your lower teeth. After all, it doesn’t affect your smile. However, crowded or misaligned teeth can cause a variety of issues, including cavities, gum disease, speech impediments, and uneven tooth wear.

Orthodontia isn’t just about creating a wonderful smile. It’s also about making the overall person healthier. For this reason, crowded or misaligned teeth should be treated as soon as possible.

#3: Early Orthodontic Intervention Prevents Later Issues

As mentioned above, it’s best to get an orthodontic evaluation for a child no later than age seven because the orthodontist can intervene if there are developing problems to prevent worse issues later.

For instance, this interceptive treatment can create room for incoming permanent teeth, influence jaw growth to create a more symmetrical face, reduce the risk of damage to protruding front teeth, decrease the risk of tooth removal, and decrease the amount of time spent in braces.

#4: Adults Can Benefit From Braces

Even though braces are typically associated (often negatively) with teenagers, adults can benefit from them, too. As long as your teeth and gums are healthy, tooth alignment can occur at any age. If your self-confidence has been affected by the appearance of your teeth, whether they are crooked or otherwise misaligned, you should know there are many options available to correct these issues and give you the smile you deserve. Your self-esteem can improve dramatically!

As you age, misaligned teeth can lead to major issues such as gum loss, bone loss, tooth decay, and even headaches and jaw pain. You don’t have to put up with those conditions, especially since they can be easily corrected through metal braces, clear braces, or aligner trays. However, you won’t know which method is best for your specific condition if you don’t contact an orthodontist for a consultation. So, give us a call today!

#5: Metal Braces Are Not the Only Option

When you think about orthodontia, you probably conjure up an image of a mouthful of metal, and it might even bring back memories of your awkward teenage years. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. There are other options to aligning your teeth, including Invisalign, which is a modern way to straighten teeth using a series of clear aligners that are practically unnoticeable to others. These aligners can be removed for eating and drinking, which improves the overall experience.

Each set of Invisalign aligners is worn for about two weeks at a time, which moves the teeth slowly into alignment over time. You will visit your orthodontist about once every one or two months to check on your progress and make any necessary adjustments. The total treatment time takes approximately 15 weeks, but this depends on how well you follow your treatment plan and how much movement needs to take place to get your teeth aligned.

One of the nicest aspects of Invisalign treatment is that the clear aligners are barely noticeable.  This makes it an excellent orthodontic option for adults who may be self-conscious about getting braces and for teenagers who are already dealing with the various social pressures that come with being in middle or high school. There are no wires or brackets to break or cause pain, so the treatment is also more comfortable than traditional braces as well.

#6: Invisalign Allows Teens to Continue Regular Activities

In the past, metal braces have gotten in the way of teenagers’ regular lives by interfering with their daily activities. For example, braces don’t allow teens to eat some of their favorite foods such as popcorn, apples, and corn on the cob. However, Invisalign lets them continue eating whatever they want because they simply remove the aligners while they eat. They can even chew gum, which has long been forbidden when straightening teeth.

Additionally, braces have often prevented teens from playing their favorite sports or musical instruments. With Invisalign, there are no restrictions on activities because they can either remove them for the duration of their activity or they can safely play with the aligners in their mouths. Moreover, teens are able to clean their teeth better because there are no brackets or wires getting in the way of properly brushing and flossing. Invisalign also means no trapped food as well!

#7: Invisalign Does Not Have to Cost More

You may have heard that if you choose Invisalign to straighten your teeth instead of traditional braces that you’ll have to pay more. With some orthodontists, though, you won’t be charged extra for the convenience of Invisalign.

Just because Invisalign offers several benefits over traditional braces does not mean it should be more expensive. Search for an orthodontist who understands this and keeps prices for various orthodontic treatments equal based on the treatment needed and not on the method.

#8: Impressions Don’t Have to Be Messy

If you’ve ever been treated by an orthodontist before, you may have had to get tooth impressions by biting down on trays full of plaster cast. Not only is that unpleasant in terms of taste, but it’s messy too. Fortunately, orthodontists don’t have to take impressions manually anymore. They can get the impressions they need through the use of iTero, a digital art scanner. Not only is it cleaner, but it’s also more accurate and precise as well.

Even better is that you won’t have to wait for your impressions to be made to start your treatment. The 3D images taken by the scanner allows the orthodontist to expedite your treatment, especially if you choose the Invisalign option. Your aligners will fit your teeth perfectly. Plus, you will even be able to see a simulated smile outcome so you can start to get excited about your new smile before you even start your treatment.

#9: Orthodontics Are Affordable

While it’s impossible to know exactly how much your orthodontia care will cost until you are evaluated, we can say that treatment is affordable, especially since most orthodontists offer several financing options to meet patients’ individual needs.

If you have dental insurance, you might also have some coverage for orthodontics, but again, this varies by plan. At your initial consultation, your orthodontists’ office will go over your plan with you. They will also provide you with price and payment options.

#10: Tooth Extraction May Be Necessary

In many cases, perfect smiles can be achieved without removing any teeth. However, on occasion, some teeth may need to be extracted to ensure the health of the remaining teeth. This usually happens when there is a prominent protrusion of the front teeth, there is too much crowding in either jaw, a tooth is compromised by injury or disease, removal is necessary to correct the bite, or an impacted fused tooth is preventing appropriate treatment.

Aside from wisdom teeth, which are often removed for non-orthodontia-related reasons, you may need to have between one and four teeth extracted during your treatment. It is common for orthodontists to remove an odd number of teeth to achieve symmetry and premolars are the most common teeth removed. Any projected extractions will be a part of your treatment plan, so you will know ahead of time if any teeth will need to be removed to achieve your goals.

#11: Treatment Time Varies

There’s no standard time frame for orthodontics procedures because the time spent in braces or aligners depends on the patient’s initial condition and how effective early interventions, if any, have been.

Typically, treatment can take between eight and 30 months, which is why it’s important to begin orthodontic evaluation and treatment as soon as possible. The more interceptive treatments there are, the less time a patient will spend in braces. The average time in braces is 18 to 24 months.

#12: Orthodontists Have the Expertise You Need

You may have heard advertisements for Invisalign treatment that you can get on your own without going through an orthodontist. This is unwise because your teeth and facial structure are going to be permanently altered with any orthodontics treatment. Orthodontists have received specialized treatment that ensures that your teeth will emerge from treatment as indicated in your treatment plan. Your individual needs are the highest priority, which may not be the case with non-orthodontic specialists.

With in-home teeth straightening services, you don’t have an expert monitoring your progress, and if something starts to go wrong, you don’t have a way to adjust the problem before it is too late. Many times, people who use these non-expert services end up having to see an orthodontist anyway to correct mistakes that were made with less-precise methods. In other words, you may not save any money by skipping the expert that you may end up needed after all.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’ve been wanting to get your teeth straightened, or your child has reached the age for their first orthodontics evaluation, you will want to schedule an evaluation and consultation to begin the process. Call or email Dr. Bowman, DMD at Fort Walton Beach, FL today to speak with our friendly scheduler to set up an appointment that’s convenient for you.