What is Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics?
Who is an Orthodontist?
What are the benefits of braces?
Who needs Orthodontics and when?
Why go to the Orthodontist early?
What types of problems can be corrected ‘early’?
How can I tell if my child has an orthodontic problem?
What causes orthodontic problems?
Isn't orthodontic treatment expensive?
How can I get orthodontic insurance?
What if my employer does
not have orthodontic coverage for employees?
What do braces cost?
Is it true orthodontics can contribute to mental as well as
Do orthodontists treat temporomandibular disorders (TMD)?
Can I see how I will look with my teeth straightened?
What about braces as an adult?
What is "surgical" orthodontics?
How long does orthodontic treatment last?
Is it common for men to get braces?
Any health reasons to get braces?
Q: What is Orthodontics
and Dentofacial Orthopedics?
A: Orthodontics is a specialty area of dentistry which involves
the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial
Q: Who is an Orthodontist?
A: Orthodontists are dentists who are uniquely qualified
to correct "bad bites." The American Dental Association
(ADA) requires orthodontists to have at least two years
of post-doctoral, advanced specialty training in Orthodontics
and Dentofacial Orthopedics in an accredited program, after
graduation from university and dental school.
Q: What are the benefits of braces?
A: Straight teeth and a beautiful smile
are among the well-known benefits of braces. But orthodontic
treatment also aims to
provide a proper bite for chewing, facilitate maintenance
for healthy teeth, gums, bone and jaw joint, as well as
to improve self-esteem and overall psycho-social health
Q: Who needs Orthodontics and when?
A: Studies show that millions of Americans (including
75% of children) have oral health problems that could benefit
from orthodontic treatment. Without treatment, many could
develop more serious problems, including: cavities, tooth
loss, diseased gums, bone destruction, and joint problems.
Although there is not a universal best age to begin orthodontic
treatment, the AAO recommends that every child see an orthodontist
at an early age. This could be as young as 2 or 3, but
should be no later than age 7. Although many people associate
treatment with adolescence, orthodontists can spot subtle
problems with jaw growth or with the teeth much earlier,
even while the primary (or baby) teeth are still present.
However, a visit at any age is advisable if a particular
problem has been noted by the parent, family dentist or
Q: Why go to the Orthodontist early?
A: Orthodontic specialists can improve smiles at any
age, but there are benefits to early diagnosis. Early examination
enables the orthodontist to detect and evaluate problems
and determine the appropriate time to treat them. At times,
an early visit to the orthodontist can ease a parent's
e.g. our recommendation may simply be: ‘let's closely
monitor the face and jaws as they develop by periodically
checking while the permanent teeth erupt.’ In other
cases, "preventive or interceptive" treatment may
be initiated to prevent more serious problems from developing.
For some youngsters, early treatment can prevent physical
and emotional trauma. A child nicknamed "Bucky" may
suffer more than teasing. Furthermore, studies show that
protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping
and other forms of dental injury.
Q: What types of problems can be corrected ‘early’?
A: Some of the most common corrective
measures in children are eliminating abnormal habits, guiding
or controlling the
eruption of teeth, and correcting deformities in the jaws
as they grow. Early intervention (a.k.a. Phase 1) frequently
makes the completion of comprehensive treatment (a.k.a.
Phase 2) at a later age easier and less time-consuming.
early treatment achieves results that are unattainable
once growth of the face and jaws have slowed or ceased.
many orthodontic problems can be corrected in adults as
well as children, so adults should not hesitate to consult
orthodontist to discuss a problem.)
Q: How can I tell if my child has an orthodontic problem?
A: Some of the more readily apparent conditions that indicate
the need for early examination include:
• early or late loss of primary (or baby) teeth
• difficulty in chewing or biting
• crowding, displaced or blocked-out teeth
• jaws that shift or make sounds
• speech difficulties
• biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
• teeth that meet abnormally, or don't meet at all
• facial unbalance
• jaws that are too far forward or too back
• grinding or clenching of the teeth
Q: What causes orthodontic problems?
A: Most bite problems are inherited, and cannot be prevented,
but early diagnosis can help. Orthodontists may use one of
several orthodontic appliances designed to guide bone growth.
In some patients, early treatment achieves results that may
not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Q: Isn't orthodontic treatment expensive?
A: Not in comparison with the cost of dealing with untreated
problems. Orthodontic treatment may bring long-term health
benefits and may contribute to the avoidance of costly, serious
problems later in life. Historically, the average cost of
all health services has risen faster than the average cost
of orthodontic treatment. Also, the cost of orthodontic treatment
has increased significantly less than the rate of inflation.
This means the public's buying power has increased over time
relative to orthodontic fees. Finally, orthodontic offices
typically provide various payments plans so orthodontic treatment
is truly affordable for most families who really need and
want braces, even if they do not carry orthodontic insurance.
Q: How can I get orthodontic insurance?
A: Orthodontic insurance is not available
on an individual basis, but millions of people are covered
by group dental
plans including orthodontic coverage which are offered
through their employers. Typically, these plans limit the
any one family member can collect in a lifetime, typically
ranging from $500 to $1,500.
Q: What if my employer does not have orthodontic coverage
A: The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) offers
its assistance at no charge to companies interested in
offering employees a dental plan that includes orthodontic
The AAO provides Concept DR, a self-funded, direct reimbursement
dental/orthodontic benefits program that is generally less
expensive and offers better benefits than traditional dental
insurance plans. For more information, please contact the
AAO via telephone: 1-800-STRAIGHT or Web site: www.braces.org.
Q: What do braces cost?
A: Orthodontic fees vary widely, depending on the severity
of the patient’s problem, complexity of treatment,
length of treatment time and region of the country you live.
Orthodontists routinely discuss fee arrangements after individual
clinical examinations. Generally, orthodontic fees are paid
as an initial down payment and interest-free monthly installments
over an extended period of time during the course of treatment.
Our practice accepts credit cards, and other third-party
financing options, including a no-down-payment plan. In addition,
many employers now include orthodontic coverage in their
dental benefit programs which may significantly decrease
a family’s out-of-pocket expenses toward orthodontic
treatment, making braces quite affordable for most families.
Q: Is it true orthodontics can contribute to mental as well
as physical health?
A: Although dental health concerns are usually the primary
reason for getting braces, orthodontic treatment is also
frequently initiated for the patient's emotional well-being.
For example, first impressions often are based on the appearance
of a person's face, mouth and teeth.
A person with a facial deformity or crooked teeth often
is judged negatively not only on appearance, but also on
many other characteristics such as intelligence and personality.
Independent research studies also have shown that children
and adults who believe their teeth or jaws are unattractive
may suffer from a lack of self-esteem and confidence. In
some cases, the psychological impact of crooked teeth has
been found to hamper a person's social or vocational growth.
Dr. Joyce Brothers, a leading psychologist and former adult
orthodontic patient, holds that the need for acceptance is
something we never outgrow. An adult who feels unattractive
because of crooked teeth may cover his or her mouth when
speaking or laughing, and may feel self-conscious in social
situations. Naturally, one feels better when one looks better,
and a pleasing appearance is a vital asset to one's self-confidence
and self-esteem. A person's self-consciousness often disappears
as orthodontic treatment brings teeth, lips and face into
their proper positions. Although dental health concerns are
frequently the primary impetus for orthodontic treatment,
it is not unusual for treatment to be initiated for the patient's
emotional well-being. In many cases, orthodontics provides
both physical and psychological benefits.
Q: Do orthodontists treat temporomandibular disorders (TMD)?
A: Disorders of the temporomandibular
joints, which connect the lower jaw to the skull, may be
one of the reasons millions
of people suffer from chronic headache, earache and facial
pain. No other joints are subject to such precise functioning
as those involved in the meeting and biting of teeth. Symptoms
frequently associated with this problem include popping,
clicking or grinding noises of the jaw joints when eating
or opening the mouth, soreness and limitation of opening
the mouth, headaches, stiffness of the neck and shoulders,
and ringing of the ears. The bizarre and seemingly unrelated
combination of symptoms, however, makes diagnosis difficult
for both medical and dental practitioners because many
other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Temporomandibular
disorders can arise from a variety of causes. For this
treatment of TMD may include a variety of procedures performed
by orthodontists and/or other health professionals. Although
the diagnosis may be initiated by a dentist or by a dental
solely related to jaw function, other conditions may need
to be identified by a physician or psychologist. To learn
more, see an orthodontist or ask your family dentist for
Q: Can I see how I will look with my teeth straightened?
A: Anyone considering orthodontic treatment for themselves
or for a loved one can take advantage of the "Smile
Bank," the AAO's state-of-the-art computer imaging program.
To receive a complimentary computer-generated photo of how
you might look after orthodontic treatment, simply mail a
close-up, front facial color photo featuring a wide, "toothy" smile
with your name, address and phone number, to:
American Association of Orthodontists
401 North Lindbergh Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63141-7816.
You'll receive a FREE photo showing how your smile might
benefit from orthodontic treatment.
Q: What about braces as an adult?
A: Although early treatment in children has been stressed,
more and more adult irregularities are being successfully
treated with very healthy and pleasing results. There
is no reason for an adult to forego consideration of orthodontic
treatment with today's advanced appliances and techniques.
In fact, today one out of every four orthodontic patients
is an adult. According to a census conducted by the AAO,
the percentage of adults seeking orthodontic treatment
from 17 percent in1979 to 23 percent in 1992. Regardless
of a person's age, orthodontic treatment is usually a
change for the better. The mechanics involved in the movement
teeth are essentially the same in adults as in children.
Gaps between teeth, crowding, protruding front teeth
and teeth in abnormal positions are problems that may be
in the adult by orthodontic treatment. However, because
an adult's facial bones are no longer growing, certain
cannot be resolved with braces alone. Sometimes, combined
orthodontics and jaw surgery are required to obtain the
correct result. The health of teeth, gums and supporting
well as jaw relationships, are key factors in determining
the prospects of improving one's appearance through orthodontic
treatment. Contrary to popular belief, wearing braces
will not interfere with an adult lifestyle. Patients can
business presentations, sing, play a musical instrument,
dine out—and, of course, kiss! The biggest inconvenience,
generally, is working regular visits to the orthodontist
into an adult's busy schedule.
Q: What is "surgical" orthodontics?
A: In cases of extreme facial disharmony, it is necessary
to combine surgery with orthodontics to produce a satisfactory
result. Usually the orthodontist will make the diagnostic
recommendations and treatment plan in close association with
an oral or plastic surgeon at the proper time.
Q: How long does orthodontic treatment last?
A: Treatment time in braces varies considerably, depending
on the patient's growth, individual response to orthodontic
forces, the degree of patient cooperation, and the complexity
of the malocclusion. Generally, orthodontic treatment will
vary between 15 and 30 months.
Q: Is it common for men to get braces?
A: Self-improvement and interest in health and fitness are
no longer primarily just concerns to women. A recent AAO
survey has revealed that men make up 30 percent of adult
orthodontic patients. More and more men are recognizing the
increased confidence that a good-looking smile can bring.
And men also are becoming more aware of the importance of
good dental health and the role of orthodontics in creating
beautiful, healthy smiles that can last a lifetime.
Q: Any health reasons to get braces?
A: Health concerns are often the primary consideration for
adult treatment. Crooked teeth and bad bites may seriously
affect oral health. Orthodontic treatment might help prevent
many serious potential problems such as tooth decay, gum
disease and eventual tooth loss. One of the most prevalent
adult orthodontic problems is teeth that they are too crowded.
These teeth are extremely difficult to clean, making them
more prone to decay, even if good oral hygiene is practiced.
Conversely, spaces can also be a problem, especially if the
early loss or extraction of teeth causes healthy teeth to
tip into open spaces. Deterioration of the supporting bone
may occur, causing teeth to become loose. Protruding front
teeth, in addition to being unattractive, do not meet properly
during chewing. This can cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces,
as well as excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue.
The stress on supporting tissues might cause gum disease
and possibly lead to the loss of teeth. Orthodontic problems
are not always confined to the mouth. Disorders of the temporomandibular
joints, which connect the lower jaw to the skull, may be
one of the reasons why millions of people suffer from chronic
headaches, earaches and facial pain. Though temporomandibular
disorders (TMD) may have a variety of causes, treatment sometimes
may include procedures performed by an orthodontist.
In summary, orthodontics is an important health service
for anyone at any age for optimal long-term health, function
and aesthetics of the teeth and gums. In addition, a pleasing
appearance is a vital asset for one's self-esteem and overall
psychological well-being. Finally it should be noted that
the ultimate result will not be attained without some sacrifice
on the part of the patient as well as parents. Although orthodontic
treatment may seem long, the final results are always well
worth the effort. The beauty of a radiant smile, the realization
of good dental health, and the self-confidence assured by
this health service, will reward both patient and parents
for the rest of their lives.
[This information is endorsed and provided
courtesy of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
For more information,
visit AAO’s website: www.braces.org.]