Orthodontic Treatment (Braces)
The benefits of orthodontic treatment often go beyond the obvious physical changes of an improved bite and straighter teeth; it’s also a great way to improve a person’s overall self-image. While having beautiful straight teeth is important, even more important is the need to alleviate any potential health problems associated with the teeth or jaw. Crooked teeth or jaw problems may contribute to improper cleaning of teeth, leading to tooth decay and, possibly, gum disease or total tooth loss. Orthodontic problems that go untreated can lead to chewing and digestion difficulties, speech impairments, and abnormal wear of tooth surfaces. Over time, excessive strain on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth can affect the jaw joints leading to problems such as headaches or face and neck pain.
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children get an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7. Though orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, timely treatment ensures maximum dental health.
What does orthodontic treatment involve?
Orthodontic treatment involves three phases:
1. Planning Phase – Your first couple of visits may include the following: a medical and dental history evaluation, castings or "molds" of your teeth, computer generated photograph of the head/neck that will aid in planning, photographs of the face and mouth, and x-rays of your teeth and jaws.
2. Active Phase – Active treatment involves visiting your orthodontist on a regular basis for adjustments and following specific treatment requirements to ensure successful treatment. In this phase braces or appliances are placed and adjustments are made on regular intervals until optimum results are acquired.
3. Retention Phase – When treatment is completed, the braces and/or appliances are removed and a retainer is made. These retainers can be removable or permanent and will maintain the changes made to your teeth if worn continuously until the teeth and bone are stabilized in their new positions.
**Treatment and retention times vary depending on each individual case.