Ask the Orthodontist

Many of our patients have questions for our staff on everything from what makes an orthodontist a specialist to types of treatment and how to adjust to life with braces. Following are some quick answers to commonly asked questions about orthodontic treatment.
1What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a specialist, who in addition to earning a DDS or DMD will enroll in a vigorous residency program to further his or her education. Orthodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. To practice as a specialist, an orthodontist must earn and maintain board certification.
2Do braces provide oral health benefits?
Some people are surprised to learn that receiving orthodontic care is about more than just the appearance of one’s smile. While having straight teeth is one obvious benefit to wearing braces, having properly aligned teeth provides oral health benefits, too. Healthy tooth alignment can greatly reduce the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease, untimely tooth wear, TMJ disorder, and other issues related to one’s occlusion.
3When should children begin orthodontic treatment?
The American Dental Association encourages parents and caregivers to schedule orthodontic evaluations for children by the age of seven. Visiting an orthodontist at this age can help address potential problems associated with tooth transition (the period of losing baby teeth to make room for adult teeth) and the development/growth of facial bones. In some cases, orthodontic treatment may be broken into two phases. The first phase, interceptive orthodontics, usually occurs between the ages of six and ten. This phase of treatment gives an orthodontist the opportunity to take advantage of still developing bones to address concerns like crowding of teeth and potential occlusal problems. Typical treatment protocols used in early interceptive orthodontics include expanding the palate and guiding jawbone growth. The second phase of treatment will commence during a child’s pre-teen or teenage years, and this phase will focus on moving teeth to healthy positions with conventional braces.
4Can adults benefit from braces?
Adults who have never worn braces along with those who have previously had orthodontic treatment can benefit from visiting our practice. Sometimes, previously straightened teeth can shift out of alignment when wisdom teeth come in or after not wearing a retainer for some time. It is not out of the ordinary for adults who have worn braces in the past to wear them again. Moreover, adults who have never had orthodontic treatment might decide that they want to finally achieve a straight smile. In either case, Drs. Adams and McBride can help. We offer a few treatment options tailored to the unique needs of adults including clear braces (Invisalign).
5Does orthodontic treatment improve the bite?
The bite, or occlusion, refers to the way that bottom and lower teeth line up when the mouth is closed and where teeth make contact during oral function. Having improperly spaced or misaligned teeth does affect the occlusion. Aligning teeth to straighter positions can improve the bite and prevent worn dentition associated with a malocclusion as well as symptoms related to the strain and dysfunction of the TMJ and facial muscles.
6What about clear braces?
Clear braces are a great alternative to traditional orthodontic appliances – especially for adults who want to receive treatment discreetly. Many adults and some teenagers can benefit from Invisalign, an orthodontic system that utilizes clear plastic appliances called aligners. These oral appliances are removable so that teeth can be cleaned with ease and food can be eaten without difficulty. Since aligners are clear, they are ideal for those desiring comfortable and inconspicuous treatment.
7How long are braces worn?
Treatment times for orthodontics vary from person to person. In many cases, braces are worn for about 18 months but some may require longer treatment. Sometimes, treatment is broken into phases – especially among younger patients. The best way to get an approximation of the length of treatment is to schedule a consultation with one of our orthodontists. Consultations are an important part of the treatment process, especially since everyone has unique needs and orthodontics is a highly individualized service.
8Can I play sports with braces?
Yes, wearing braces does not mean you need to stop your favorite activities. Playing sports and living an active lifestyle is very important for your health. However, when playing sports, you do need to take precautions to protect your teeth and your braces. This is done by wearing a mouthguard. The best and most comfortable option for a mouthguard is to have one custom made by a dental professional. A custom mouthguard will fit perfectly over your teeth and inside your mouth so that you can play sports and enjoy your favorite activities without distraction.
We know that many of our patients will have questions at some point during their treatment. If at any time you have questions, we invite you to call our practice or discuss your concerns at your next appointment. Our team is here to help you feel empowered about your oral health. Call us today to reserve an appointment with Dr. Adams or Dr. McBride.

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