Dr. Stephens provides orthodontic treatment for all ages. Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry which focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws, and misaligned bite patterns. An orthodontist is a person who has earned his Doctorate of Dental Surgery and has then completed a two to three year orthodontic residency program.
Orthodontic problems must be diagnosed before treatment begins. Diagnosis involves taking photographs, x-rays, and dental impressions. Dr. Stephens will use this information to work up a tailored treatment plan for each patient’s individual needs. Depending on age and the severity of the orthodontic problem, treatment can last from 6 months to several years. The best outcomes are a collaborative effort on the part of the patient, the parent and the orthodontist.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that an orthodontic evaluation take place at age 7 or sooner if your child’s regular dentist recommends it. This early evaluation can diagnose problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth as well as correct bad habits that can leave permanent teeth in less than ideal positions. There are many treatment options that can, if done early, prevent worsening of some conditions and provide opportunities for intervention during the growth stages that allow results not possible once face and jaw growth are completed. Sometimes this intervention is Phase 1 braces or an interceptive appliance. An early orthodontic evaluation allows more options for more ideal corrections of the malocclusion.
Adolescent orthodontic treatment usually won’t start until the last of the primary teeth are loose or after all the permanent teeth have started coming in. The best time to assess whether an adolescent is ready for orthodontic treatment is usually around 11 or 12 years of age. The orthodontist uses their specialized training to determine a treatment plan that will usually include braces but will always be the most advantageous for adolescent patients. Issues of tooth crowding, tooth misalignment or growth discrepancies influence these decisions.
It is never too late to get braces! Any age patient can look and feel better by having their teeth straightened. Whether you just don’t like your crooked teeth, your teeth are hard to clean and floss or you are having pain from a misaligned bite, braces can help. As we age, our teeth have a natural tendency to move to the center which causes crowding of the front teeth. Maybe you had braces as a teen but you have noticed your teeth don’t line up quite the same anymore. There are treatment options for any age patient. It’s not all metal braces covering your teeth. The current brace technology has many options.
Types of Braces
Current brace technology has many options. It’s not all metal braces covering your teeth.
First, we do have traditional metal braces, BUT, the brackets are much smaller, both in the height/width dimensions and the depth. Today’s brackets have a much lower profile and are more comfortable. Additionally, we have tooth colored ceramic brackets. We still use the same wire but the bracket is almost unnoticeable.
In some specific cases we can use clear aligners to straighten misaligned teeth. These don’t work for everyone or every problem but we can schedule a complementary initial examination and Dr. Stephens can see if this would be an option for you.
Don’t forget the retainer! You have decided on braces for you or someone you love but what happens when the teeth are straight and the braces come off? It’s time for the retainers. Fixed or removable retainers, if worn properly, keep your teeth in the position they are in when Dr. Stephens removes your braces. They are a very important part of maintaining straight teeth for years to come.
The most common is the clear retainer. It is made from ridged, clear plastic that is vacuum sealed to a model of your teeth. This type of retainer is almost invisible since you see the teeth and gums through the clear appliance. The Hawley retainer is a plastic piece that molds to the roof of your mouth and has a wire that goes around the outside of the teeth.
In some cases, a fixed retainer can be used. This is a wire that has been molded to fit the inside of your teeth. It is glued into place with a glue pad on each tooth that it covers. This type of retainer is most used on the lower teeth with a removable retainer on the upper teeth. It can be used on the inside upper teeth but there has to be enough tooth surface available so the glue pad doesn’t get knocked off by the lower teeth.
Treatments to help with snoring are also available. This appliance is plastic and fits over the upper and lower teeth to move the jaw forward while you sleep. It positions the bite forward to reduce vibration of the soft palate in the throat which helps to reduce snoring.