Orthodontics for Children and Adults

  1. What is Orthodontics?
  2. Is there a maximum age for orthodontics?
  3. What is an Orthodontist?
  4. Can any dentist call him or herself an Orthodontist or Specialist in Orthodontics?
  5. How can I find out if the person doing my Orthodontics is an Orthodontist?
  6. When should an orthodontic evaluation be sought?
  7. Why is it important for a child to see an orthodontist for orthodontic care?
  8. Do I need a referral to see an orthodontist?
  9. What if my general dentist does his own orthodontics?
  10. If I want a second opinion, can my records be obtained?
  11. Are there any benefits to early diagnosis and treatment?
  12. Why should crooked teeth be straightened?
  13. Do metal braces need to be worn?
  14. Do "plates" or removable appliances take the place of braces?
  15. Can Invisalign® or clear aligners take the place of braces?
  16. What is a crossbite?
  17. What is crowding?
  18. Can anything be done about crowding?
  19. Why is it important to maintain "milk" or "baby" teeth in their normal position?
  20. Is spacing between baby teeth a problem?
  21. What are impacted teeth?
  22. Are strong and weak lower jaws inherited?

What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a dental specialty. You might say it relates to general dentistry as heart surgery does to general medicine. The specialty concerns itself not only with the proper alignment of teeth, but also with the total facial structure emphasizing the jaw bones and soft tissues of the mouth.
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Is there a maximum age for orthodontics?
In general, orthodontic specialists can improve tooth positions can be improved at practically any age. While most people tend to associate orthodontic treatment with children and adolescents, age is not a limiting factor for tooth movement. Today, more and more adults are seeking orthodontic treatment to correct crooked teeth, tooth crowding and more.
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What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed an approved specialty course conducted full-time over a number of years. Only then can dentists call themselves orthodontists or specialists in orthodontics.
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Can any dentist call him or herself an Orthodontist or Specialist in Orthodontics?
No. Only a dentist who has completed the required minimum of two years full-time of training in orthodontics.
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How can I find out if the person doing my Orthodontics is an Orthodontist?
Ask your practitioner if he/she is an Orthodontic Specialist.
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When should an orthodontic evaluation be sought?
The opinion of an orthodontist should be sought when you have a concern, question or doubt about a tooth eruption pattern or about jaw/facial growth and development.
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Why is it important for a child to see an orthodontist for orthodontic care?
Some problems must be properly corrected the first time they appear as the problem can increase with growth. As Orthodontic Treatment will permanently change your child's teeth and possibly even his or her face, you will want a well-qualified professional to treat your child. Orthodontic specialists limit their practices to orthodontic treatment only. Further advanced education has given them the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.
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Do I need a referral to see an orthodontist?
The orthodontist is your specialist in facial growth and development as well as tooth positioning. Most caring, sophisticated general dentists will understand your needs and be more than willing to assist you in making the first appointment with an orthodontist. However, referrals from our patients are becoming more and more common and if you wish you can contact an orthodontist on your own.
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What if my general dentist does his own orthodontics?
Many general dentists are doing advanced orthodontic treatment without the benefit of years of specialty training required of orthodontists. Some general dentists do some limited aspects of orthodontic treatment in conjunction with an orthodontist. If you have any doubt that your case may require the expertise of a specialist, you should not hesitate to request an orthodontic evaluation.
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If I want a second opinion, can my records be obtained?
The orthodontist from whom you wish to have a second opinion given can request the records from the first dentist's office. (Please note: That office is entitled to a fee for any records provided).
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Are there any benefits to early diagnosis and treatment?
Orthodontists can improve smiles at any age, but there is usually an optimum age for treatment to begin. An early examination allows the orthodontic specialist to determine how and when a child's particular problem should be treated for maximum improvement with the least time of treatment. Early orthopaedic and orthodontic correction of certain growth problems can eliminate jaw surgery later and/or reduce the need for tooth extraction.
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Why should crooked teeth be straightened?
Straight teeth will certainly give you a nicer smile and greater self-esteem-but, just as important, teeth straightening makes it easier for you to clean them properly with reducing tooth wear over time.
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Do metal braces need to be worn?
Clear braces can be used to reduce the amount of metal on the front teeth and enhance the appearance of the patient while he or she is wearing orthodontic appliances. The decision to use metal or clear braces for teeth is a decision to be made by the patient in consultation with the orthodontist, and is discussed at the time of treatment.
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Do "plates" or removable appliances take the place of braces?
No. Removable appliances are used primarily as functional appliances or retention appliances. The reason is simple: removable appliances can only tip teeth. Only braces can make bodily movements of the teeth.
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Can Invisalign® or clear aligners take the place of braces?
In many cases clear aligners can straighten teeth sufficiently. However there are some limitations for their use as they do not have the same versatility in correcting tooth position as braces do. For more involved problems braces are still needed.
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What is a crossbite?
A crossbite occurs when you have improper bite (occlusion) of the upper and lower teeth. In other words, the upper teeth normally overlap the lower teeth. With a crossbite, the lower teeth are outside the upper teeth.
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What is crowding?
Crooked teeth are often the result of crowding, or too much tooth structure for jaw size. There are two causes for this problem: one is that the tooth size is too large for the jaw size; the other is that the jaw size is too small for the tooth size.
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Can anything be done about crowding?
Depending on the problem, expansion can provide enough room. Some of the milk teeth are larger than the permanent teeth that replace them. Extra space can be gained to correct crowding when milk teeth are lost and permanent teeth erupt. If the child is seen at the right time this can be used to create space. In other situations, tooth extraction may be necessary to eliminate crowding.
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Why is it important to maintain "milk" or "baby" teeth in their normal position?
Milk teeth maintain the normal arch form and arch length. If the baby teeth are lost early due to decay or extractions, space can be lost and create a crowding problem.
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Is spacing between baby teeth a problem?
As a general rule, spacing between baby teeth is not a problem since the permanent teeth that replace them are much larger than the original baby teeth. However, if there isn't space, this will usually indicate a crowding situation exists in the permanent dentition that will be erupting.
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What are impacted teeth?
Impacted teeth are teeth that have not erupted into the mouth for one of three reasons: first, because of severe crowding; secondly, because of a bony or hard tissue impaction or thirdly, because of a soft tissue impaction. Sometimes it is necessary to surgically uncover and actively pull the tooth into place. If this is necessary, the tooth is uncovered and then the orthodontist guides the tooth to its proper position.
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Are strong and weak lower jaws inherited?
The growth pattern of a child's jaw is definitely related to the genetic make-up of the parents. If there is a concern that a weak jaw may be problematic, assessment by an orthodontist for growth guidance is beneficial. Often the growth pattern can be redirected into a normal pattern. However, if the patient is seen later in life, jaw surgery or orthognathic surgical corrections may need to be considered to correct the jaw bone discrepancy.
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