LAST UPDATED: OCTOBER 31, 2017
Many people in search of a beautiful smile seek help from a qualified orthodontist. When the word “orthodontics” is used, it refers to a specialty in the field of dentistry that centers on improper bites and misaligned teeth. Although it is possible to receive orthodontic treatment such as braces or Invisalign from your general dentist, an orthodontic specialist is a dentist who continued their full time education to complete 2-3 years of an orthodontic residency to understand how the teeth move through the bone. While it is not required to achieve board certification to be an orthodontist, some orthodontists make the extra effort to become a board certified.
If you have concerns about your teeth or bite, you may already be aware that you need to see an experienced professional to be fitted with a corrective device. The goal of such devices is to improve your physical appearance and help your teeth and jaw to function at what is determined an optimum level for you. Although there can be a surprisingly wide variation in the recommended treatment plans between orthodontists and results can vary in regard to the esthetics of the face, profile and smile, seeking out a board certified orthodontist is an excellent first step. During your visit, you can ask them to show you examples of other people they have treated with similar tooth / jaw position issues as yours to get an idea of their approach to treatment.
Seeking Proper Orthodontic Care
Most irregularities with your teeth, jaw and bones can be remedied through proper orthodontic care. Depending on the specific issue you are facing, the treatment recommended may range from a comprehensive approach with full braces, full Invisalign and possible auxiliaries such as elastics to a limited treatment of only lower or upper teeth where only a few teeth are moved.
During the course of treatment, such devices will move your teeth into normal, healthy alignment. When this has been accomplished, the corrective devices will be removed, and you will have a beautiful smile with a healthy bite.
Some people, especially adults, do not seek out an orthodontist because they are concerned about the appearance / comfort of traditional metal braces. Fortunately, an orthodontist who has actively pursued continuing education courses after completion of their residency will be able to offer other alternatives such as clear braces that don’t stain or clear, removable trays (such as Invisalign) to move the teeth.
Invisalign treatment involves the use of a series of clear, plastic aligners that you are instructed to wear in a particular sequence. Your orthodontic specialist will likely begin by creating a profile for you, followed by a specific treatment plan that generally includes the following steps:
• Reviewing your dental history, looking at current position of the teeth and bite
• Taking x-rays and photographs
• Taking a laser light scan to accurately register the position of your teeth
After these initial records are completed, your specialist will prepare a written evaluation including his or her recommendations for your therapy. Further modification is usually required to achieve an optimum result. To accomplish this, an orthodontist experienced with the Invisalign product will use a combination of written requests as well as directly performing movement of the teeth on the computer. The Invisalign website is an excellent first step in finding an orthodontist in your area who is experienced in the use of clear aligner therapy. Typically an orthodontist with “Elite” status or above is currently using Invisalign on at least 1/3 of all their patients. Just as with braces, the results you will achieve with Invisalign depend on which doctor you have selected to provide your treatment, since it is their diagnosis and treatment plan that determines your result (assuming that you comply with the instructions to wear them 22 hrs /day). It will be necessary to move each of your misaligned teeth in stages until they are eventually positioned in the desired location. The amount of movement needed for your case will determine how many sets of clear aligners you will be given during the course of your treatment.
Prospective patients sometimes have concerns about how comfortable orthodontic treatment will be. Although this will depend on which techniques your orthodontist chooses to use and their particular approach / philosophy, most discomfort associated with orthodontics is no longer noticeable within 3 days of an appointment.
For tooth soreness associated with tooth movement, we recommend soft foods. Tylenol can be taken according to the directions on the package if needed. There is also a product that soothes the teeth through gentle vibration, like a massage for your teeth (“Acceledent”) which can be purchased through your orthodontist.
You may be wondering about the time frame associated with wearing braces, Invisalign or other types of corrective devices. Because the length of time it takes to realign crooked teeth or fix a bite varies from one person to the next, you should ask how long your practitioner anticipates that you will need to wear your customized device at the time he or she completes your evaluation.
As you may have suspected, there is a recovery process that must naturally occur after braces are removed. This is because the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth need time to get used to their new position.
For patients who have finished their treatment, we usually recommend a combination of a removable upper retainer to use while sleeping and a permanent lower retainer (very small wire placed behind the lower front 6 teeth). At any point in time, the teeth can shift to a different position if retainers are not in place. It is important to follow all instructions given to you concerning the use and care of your retainer.
• Always pay special attention to the backs of your teeth with brushing to avoid decay and calculus buildup, especially if you have a bonded wire retainer placed behind your front teeth
• Use a floss threader if you have a bonded wire retainer placed behind your front teeth, as this type flossing tool allows you to reach areas that would otherwise be blocked by the retainer.
• If you lose or misplace a removable retainer or break a bonded (“glued in”) wire retainer, you should immediately contact your orthodontic specialist.
Almost anyone can benefit from having teeth abnormalities corrected. Below are just a few of the many advantages you may likely experience once you seek such treatment:
• Higher self-confidence
• More attractive appearances
• Straight teeth are easier to clean
• Ability to bite into sandwiches effectively
• Healthier environment for gums
• Easier chewing
Achieving and maintaining a beautiful, healthy looking smile is advantageous for essentially everyone. If you are concerned about the health of your teeth or the appearance of your smile, you should make an appointment with one of our experienced orthodontists as soon as possible at Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics.