Frequently asked questions about orthodontics


What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of facial and dental abnormalities. Orthodontists have the skill and expertise to treat malocclusions or bad bites.

What is an Orthodontist? Are all dentists orthodontists?

Orthodontists are dental specialists, who after becoming dentists complete a two to three year advanced dental education in orthodontics residency program accredited by the American Dental Association. They are trained to treat all dental and facial irregularities. Only dentists who have successfully completed this advanced specialty training are called Orthodontists.

What Causes Orthodontic Problems?

Though most malocclusions are inherited, some are acquired. Examples of inherited problems include extra teeth, crowding of teeth, extra space between teeth, congenitally missing teeth and a broad range of  jaw, teeth and facial discrepancies. Acquired orthodontic problems can be caused by trauma, finger or thumb sucking, airway obstruction by the tonsils and adenoids, dental disease and early loss of primary or permanent teeth. In addition to alignment issues, most of these problems affect facial growth and appearance.

Does my child need orthodontic treatment?

The AAO recommends all children receive an orthodontic evaluation at age 7. Typically, you cannot identify the need for orthodontic treatment because problems can develop although the front teeth are straight. The first exam is comprehensive and complimentary. We’d be glad to examine your child and make any recommendations for treatment, if needed.

Early detection of orthodontic problems is crucial to take corrective measures and avoid more involved and difficult treatment later.

Can Adults have Braces? Am I too old for braces?

No adult is too old for braces. Any adult with healthy gums and adequate bone support, as well as good health overall, can receive orthodontic treatment. About 35% of our patients are adults, and that number continues to grow!

What is the duration of orthodontic treatment?

The length of treatment varies depending on the development of the dentition, the severity of bite problems and patient cooperation. On average, treatment times in our practice for comprehensive treatment range between 16 – 20 months. It can be longer in cases of impacted teeth and surgical cases. In cases of limited treatment it is usually anywhere between 3-6 months.

Is orthodontic treatment painful?

Orthodontic treatment has transformed over the years. Most of our adult patients who have had braces when they were younger are amazed now at the difference with the level of comfort. We use the latest in biocompatible braces, low friction and light forces, thus reducing both discomfort and treatment time.

Your teeth will feel tender and sore the first few days after your braces are put on, but it is not painful and can easily be relieved with an over the counter analgesic if needed.

What is Phase I (Interceptive) and Phase II (Comprehensive) Treatment?

Generally Phase I or Interceptive Treatment begins while the child has most of their primary teeth and a few permanent front incisors. Children in this stage of development are usually between the ages of seven to nine. Phase I treatment is designed to treat a moderate or severe orthodontic problem early in an effort to reduce or eliminate it. Problems treated during Phase I include cross bites, severe crowding and skeletal discrepancies. Interceptive treatment decreases the need for surgery or extractions and provides better long-term results. By initiating treatment early, orthodontists are able to turn a severe orthodontic problem into a more manageable one.

Usually, Phase II treatment begins a few years later, between the ages of 11 to 13. Treatment begins after all the permanent teeth erupt, including the second molars. Most patients that undergo Phase I treatment also need Phase II treatment to achieve an ideal final bite.