Can you describe orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the dental specialty dedicated to moving the teeth to their correct position for proper function as well as achieving esthetic improvements. As highly trained specialists, orthodontists provide treatment to bring the teeth, jaw bones and facial profile into their proper alignment for straight teeth, better smiles and improved health for their patients.
There are many different ways to move teeth such as braces, Invisalign and expanders.
Our “Before and After” section highlights what our doctors can do to your smile using our own patients as examples.
Are orthodontists also dentists?
Yes, all orthodontists are dentists. All orthodontists attend college and complete a 4 year doctoral program to become a dentist. The next step of an orthodontic residency program is very competitive and the training process takes 2 to 3 years. Of those who successfully complete their residency, approximately 35% choose to present their cases to achieve Board Certification in Orthodontics. Our patients directly benefit from the specialized training and extensive experience of our Board Certified Orthodontic specialists, Dr. Jasmine Gortonand Dr. Bill Schmohl.
We invite you to visit the profiles of our doctors to learn more.
What are the cases that orthodontists typically treat?
Orthodontists treat all ages, from young children to adults. We see patients with under bites, cross bites and deep overbites, as well as crowding of the teeth, spacing, lower jaws that are too narrow or out of balance overbites.
How do braces work?
Braces work by applying constant, gentle pressure, gradually moving the teeth into proper position. The basic components of braces are the brackets, which are attached to the teeth and the arch wire that connects them. Through the periodical reshaping of these arch wires our doctors control the process, which move teeth into the correct bite with a stunning smile.
Is orthodontic treatment successful in adults?
Orthodontic treatment is very successful in adult patients. The biological process employed in the movement of teeth is the same regardless of age. The success of treatment is based on the health of the teeth, gums, and supporting bone. Because adult bones are no longer growing, some cases which involve extreme correction of the facial bones cannot be fully corrected with orthodontics alone. In these cases other dental specialists can provide treatment along with us to achieve the desired result.
What is the cause when orthodontic treatment is needed?
Many common orthodontic problems are the result of heredity. The child of a parent with an overbite will often exhibit an overbite also. In children, the teeth may be crowded, there may be too much space between the teeth, the teeth may protrude, and sometimes there may be missing teeth, extra teeth or problems with jaw growth.
Other contributing factors are thumb or finger-sucking, the early or late loss of baby teeth, mouth breathing, abnormal swallowing, poor dental hygiene, dental disease, poor nutrition, accidents or birth defects. Although orthodontic problems can result from a variety of causes, most can be treated successfully.
If my crooked teeth don’t bother me, is there any reason I should have orthodontic treatment?
Speaking, biting and chewing properly are all dependent on straight teeth. Straight teeth also are less likely to decay and promote healthier gums. Headaches, jaw joint pain, muscle soreness and sleep apnea are conditions that are associated with teeth that don’t fit together properly even if they are straight. For maximum oral health having a good bite and straight teeth is important.
Why do straight teeth improve a person’s appearance so much?
Orthodontic treatment helps to improve the appearance by returning the dentition to its proper position and in turn providing improved support for facial structure. Correctly positioned teeth help bring facial attributes into correct proportion with each other. After a patient has had their teeth straightened, they can truly appreciate the incredible improvement a beautiful, straight smile brings.
Crooked teeth can distract, while straight teeth attract and highlight lips, cheeks and jaw line. Adults often choose to straighten their teeth for special occasions such as weddings. Rather than hiding your smile you may find yourself wanting to smile at everyone… which can have a direct impact on self confidence, personality and achievements. Our doctors provide retainers when treatment is complete so that you can maintain your results throughout life.
Can anything bad occur by chosing to not have orthodontic treatment when suggested?
Yes! Misaligned teeth can result in tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease and increased risk of injury to protruding upper front teeth. Decay and gum disease lead to the destruction of bone in the jaw, tooth loss, chewing difficulty and digestive problems.
Poorly aligned teeth also cause uneven wear of tooth surfaces, leaving areas of the teeth badly worn down, with an inability to chew and digest food properly; excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone supporting the teeth and misalignment of the jaw joint leading to headaches and/or pain in the face and neck, also sleep apnea can often be addressed through orthodontic treatment.
Proper orthodontic treatment can prevent these problems and help promote good health for life. Postponing treatment can also limit the results that can be achieved, the level of difficulty, duration of treatment and increase the likelihood of adjunct procedures such as surgery.
What can happen when food gets stuck in braces?
Food caught in braces can be a problem. It is very important for orthodontic patients to steer clear of sticky and hard foods. They also should avoid chewing on fingernails, pencils or pens because hard substances can damage braces. Damaged braces result in extra visits to the orthodontic office and can make treatment take longer.
I’m waiting for my next set of aligners to arrive. How can I keep my aligners clean in the meantime?
Have you been wearing your Invisalign aligners for longer than expected due to Shelter In Place or a family vacation? In order to keep them clean and fresh, we recommend rinsing them with regular hydrogen peroxide while you brush your teeth! Watch this tutorial from Dr. Gorton and Kai:
How can expanders prevent the need for the extraction of teeth and how do they work?
Many orthodontists extract teeth if space is limited which can have a negative impact on the profile as the teeth get moved back and the nose grows. Therefore another treatment option Drs. Gorton and Schmohl chose instead, is the use of expanders, which rather than reducing a smile, widen a smile without a negative impact on the profile. In most cases we can use soft expanders (such as a Quadhelix or Crozat appliance.)
Please read what sets us apart from others to see how we accomplish less invasive, non-extraction treatment.
Should all children be evaluated regarding a need for braces, and if so at what age?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a screening of all children by the age of 7 by a trained orthodontist. While many children are able to wait until nearly all of their adult teeth have come in, some orthodontic cases are easier to correct if detected early rather than waiting until jaw growth has slowed.
Early treatment may prevent the need for surgery or other more serious corrections later in life. Often earlier treatment at or before age 7 is suggested if a child has one or more of the following: difficulty chewing or biting, open-mouth breathing, thumb or finger sucking, Overlapping or crowding of erupting permanent teeth, obvious abnormal bite development of any kind, jaws that click or pop, biting of the cheek or into the roof of the mouth, speech problems, grinding or wearing down of teeth, and protruding teeth.
How long do i need to wear my retainers?
Forever. A smile is forever and it should look good and stay functional for the future.
What should I do if my child has dental trauma while wearing braces?
If you or your child experiences trauma to a tooth while undergoing orthodontic treatment (often the result of sports without mouthguards), please call your pediatric dentist/dentist immediately for instructions on how to proceed.
While your orthodontist will need to work with your pediatric dentist/dentist because there are braces on the teeth, your dentist will be the one who repairs your broken tooth if you have chipped or broken your tooth.
If your teeth are moved or displaced by trauma, you may need to see an oral surgeon to have the area evaluated, numbed up, the teeth repositioned, and the bone around the teeth compressed back into its normal position. Your pediatric dentist/dentist can provide you with the contact information of a local oral surgeon should it be required. Most pediatric dentists can handle these issues.
What is the difference between traditional expanders and clear aligners?
Expansion usually takes 6-12 months regardless of what type of expansion technique we use, when you consider both the active expansion and the stabilization phase.
Both conventional expanders and Invisalign yield comparable results for our patients.
Conventional expanders are “glued” into place. We provide dental “pipe cleaners” to help remove any food that can get stuck during eating. The lower conventional expander can be removed at home at night for brushing. With conventional expanders, patients cannot eat anything too hard or too sticky.
The rate of tooth movement is more tightly controlled with clear aligners, allowing for more predictable comfort. Of the 2 kinds of conventional expanders, the tooth movement of the “quadhelix” expander is customizeable whereas the “rapid palatal expander” with the jackscrew is not.
By patient report, the clear aligners are more comfortable and do not interfere with speech or food choices. We typically do not offer clear aligners to patients with airway problems, so we still use both types of expansion in our practice. If for some reason clear aligners are not a good fit for a patient, we can transition them to conventional expanders.
Early expansion can eliminate the need for both the removal of baby and permanent teeth