Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in alignment and occlusion irregularities of the teeth. When your teeth are crooked or your bite isn’t lining up, orthodontists–dentists who have an additional three years of training on top of traditional dental school–have the knowledge and solutions to make sure your smile is not only confident but healthy and functional as well.
At Castle Dental, our general dentists and orthodontists work side by side, and many of our dentists have special training to direct certain types of orthodontic treatment like clear aligners. This, in addition to our comprehensive offering of complete dental services, means you and your family can receive all the oral health care you need at one convenient location.
What are the most common issues addressed by orthodontists?
Orthodontics covers a broad range of teeth and jaw alignment issues. Below are some of the most common issues:
- Overcrowding occurs when the jaw simply does not have the space necessary to fit all of the teeth. This causes the teeth to appear crooked and overlapped.
- Overbites, which occur when the top teeth extend too far out over the bottom teeth, prevent the teeth from lining up correctly and can have an effect on your ability to chew and/or speak.
- Underbites, the opposite of overbites, are created when the bottom teeth extend beyond the top teeth. Similar to an overbite, this can affect the ability to chew and/or speak. It can also cause irregular wear and tear to the top teeth and make them vulnerable to chipping or cracking.
- Open bites create a space between the top and bottom front teeth even when the jaw is at rest.
- Crossbites occur when the top teeth are sitting on the inside of the bottom teeth.
Who usually gets orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment can benefit almost anyone of any age, but only an orthodontist or dentist with orthodontic training can determine if it’s right for you.
Most orthodontic patients fall into one of the following categories:
- Pre-teens and Teenagers. The most common age of treatment for alignment irregularities is between 10-14. This is an ideal time because, usually, all of the adult teeth have come in, but the jaw is still malleable and can be more easily adjusted. Patients at this age also tend to be more responsible and capable of managing their orthodontic treatment and keeping their teeth and appliances clean. Moreover, straightening a smile at a younger age can significantly increase confidence levels.
- Children. It is recommended that children see an orthodontist as early as age 7 or once their permanent teeth have started to erupt. This is typically more to establish a baseline and identify potential problems than it is for actual treatment. Early intervention is a good way to increase the effectiveness of many treatment options, but in the case of braces or aligners, most orthodontists prefer to wait a bit. The mouth changes significantly during these years and children typically lack the discipline it takes to maintain the results. Sometimes, if treatment is too early, kids will end up back in braces several years later.
- Adults. It is not uncommon for an adult to receive orthodontic treatment for malocclusion issues, and nearly a quarter of Americans will have braces in their adult years. Orthodontic treatment in adults is used to address lifelong issues with alignment, age-related conditions, or even to restore the results of previous treatment.
- Trauma patients. Accidents and injuries are common reasons people may need orthodontic treatment. Part of comprehensive medical care includes restoring the function, range of motion, and confidence of all parts of the body affected by the trauma, including the mouth and teeth.
What are the most common treatments used by orthodontists?
Orthodontic treatment is very patient-specific, and what might work for one patient may not work for another. Orthodontists are trained to determine the best possible treatment method for your unique oral health and to make sure it is directed safely and properly.
Some of the most common types of orthodontic treatment are:
- Braces are the most commonly used treatment for many different issues. They consist of brackets that adhere to the teeth using a safe, dental-grade cement. A wire is then threaded through the brackets and adjusted to slowly and gently guide the teeth into a more desirable alignment.
- Every four to six weeks, you’ll need to visit the orthodontist to have the braces either tightened or adjusted. This ensures that the teeth are moving the way they should.
- Two years is the average duration of treatment with braces, but this can vary from patient to patient. Some patients may only need them for a year, while others with more significant alignment issues may need to wear them for up to three or more years.
- Braces can be a bit uncomfortable, especially in the beginning or immediately after adjustments, and they can cause some sores on the inside of your mouth. Your orthodontist will give you ways to help minimize any discomfort and treat irritation in your cheeks and gums.
- Aligners are an increasingly popular alternative to braces. They are a series of clear trays that need to be worn for up to 22 hours a day. Though the trays get switched out every 1-2 weeks at home, you still need to visit the orthodontist every month to ensure that the teeth are moving appropriately.
- Clear aligners can be taken out when you need to eat, brush, or floss, making it significantly easier to maintain good dental hygiene habits. However, replacing the trays and wearing them an adequate number of hours per day does require a high level of responsibility, therefore aligners are more commonly used for adult patients.
- Clear aligners are virtually invisible, making them a preferred choice for adults who want to maintain a professional appearance or for young adults who may be self-conscious wearing traditional braces.
- Expanders are used to widen the roof of the mouth which, in turn, creates more space for the teeth during the alignment process allowing more room for teeth to erupt properly. The expander works by pushing the bones in the roof of the mouth apart. Once separated, it’s left in place a while longer, while new bone forms, reconnecting the separated palate.
- The appliance is typically worn for about 9 months and is anchored to premolars using bands or bonded plastic.
- The process of expanding the palate is relatively slow. It may cause mild discomfort when first placed and it can cause some irritation as the tongue adjusts to it.
- Retainers are typically used following the removal of braces or aligners to preserve the alignment because teeth can regularly relapse and try to shift back to their original positions. It can take 4-6 months for the results of your treatment to become permanent so a retainer is often necessary to avoid needing treatment again in the future.
- Retainers can be made of metal that clips onto the teeth or made of plastic which is formed into a tray that fits snugly around the teeth.
- You may also receive a permanent retainer after your orthodontic treatment. This is a single metal or fiber wire that is fixed to the back of teeth using a strong bonding agent and ensures the teeth stay in their fixed positions.
Is orthodontic treatment necessary or just cosmetic?
Teeth that are not straight or a misaligned bite can have a negative impact on your overall oral health. Brushing and flossing can be difficult or even impossible when teeth are overlapped, leading to discoloration, decay, and periodontal disease. Straight teeth are easier to clean. This makes habits more manageable to maintain and greatly reduces your risk for dental issues.
When teeth are not aligning properly, everything from the way you speak and chew to the way you breathe can be affected. This can cause uneven wear and tear on the teeth, strain in the jaw, or even problems in how you communicate.
However, there are also instances where orthodontic treatment like braces or clear aligners can help treat minor cosmetic irregularities that may not be causing larger problems, such as slightly gapped or unevenly spaced teeth.
Whatever your reason for seeking orthodontic treatment, it’s important to remember that your best smile is both straight and healthy.
Is orthodontic treatment expensive?
Orthodontic treatment greatly varies in price depending on several factors. Some questions to ask when determining how much your orthodontic treatment might cost include:
- How severe is my malocclusion?
- How long will I need to wear braces?
- Am I getting metal braces or clear aligners?
- Will I need additional treatments to increase the effectiveness of my treatment?
Orthodontic treatment can be expensive, but in most cases, it is an investment in your long-term oral and overall health. Castle Dental is committed to helping you and your family receive the professional, quality orthodontic care you need for a beautiful, healthy smile at a price you can afford. We accept CareCredit and a long list of dental insurances, and we also offer a variety of financing and payment plans to help make exceptional orthodontic care easier to afford. Contact a Castle Dental office near you to learn more.
Quality Orthodontic Care at Castle Dental
Quality orthodontic care doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and you deserve to have a smile you can be confident in. Schedule a consultation today at a Castle Dental location and find out how we can help you get–and keep–a straight, healthy smile. From cleanings to checkups, cavity treatment to clear aligners, Castle Dental has all the comprehensive dental care services you need to have a healthy mouth for life!