My family dentist said I need to have some missing teeth replaced, but I need orthodontic treatment first – why?
Your dentist is probably recommending orthodontics so that he or she might treat you in the best manner possible to bring you to optimal dental health. Many complicated tooth restorations, such as crowns, bridges and implants, can be best accomplished when the remaining teeth are properly aligned and the bite is correct.
When permanent teeth are lost, it is common for the remaining teeth to drift, tip or shift. This movement can create a poor bite and uneven spacing that cannot be restored properly unless the missing teeth are replaced. Tipped teeth usually need to be straightened so they can withstand normal biting pressures in the future.
My teeth have been crooked for many years – why should I have orthodontic treatment now?
It’s never too late! Orthodontic treatment, when indicated, is a positive step—especially for adults who have endured a long-standing problem. Orthodontic treatment can restore good function. And teeth that work better usually look better, too. A healthy, beautiful smile can improve self-esteem, no matter the age.
Is orthodontic treatment affordable?
Patients are finding that braces are more affordable today than ever. The cost of orthodontic treatment will depend on many factors, including the severity of the problem, its complexity and the length of treatment. Your orthodontist will be glad to discuss the cost with you before treatment begins. Most orthodontists have a variety of convenient payment plans. Often there are combined plans available for parents and children who have treatment at the same time. In addition, many dental insurance plans now include orthodontic benefits. Dollar for dollar, when you consider the lifetime benefits of orthodontics it is truly a great value.
I am pregnant and want to begin orthodontic treatment. Is this OK?
Pregnancy brings on bodily changes that can affect the mouth. Soft tissues such as gums become much more susceptible to infection. The possible need for x-rays during the pregnancy is not advised. Discuss this question with your medical practitioner/physician and orthodontist before you start orthodontic treatment.
My orthodontist wants to do something called enamel stripping to make my teeth smaller. I have never heard of this. Is this something new? Is it safe?
This procedure goes by many names: enamel stripping; interproximal reduction; slenderizing; reproximation and selective reduction. The goal is to remove some of the outer tooth surface (enamel) to acquire more space for your teeth. The procedure has been used in orthodontic treatment since the 1940s and has been shown to be safe and effective. Some studies among patients who have had this procedure show that it neither makes teeth more susceptible to tooth decay nor does it predispose patients to gum disease.
I have painful jaw muscles and jaw joints – can an orthodontist help?
One of the problems commonly associated with jaw muscle and jaw joint discomfort is bruxing, that is, habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth, particularly at night. Bruxism is a muscle habit pattern that can cause severe wearing of the teeth, and overloading and trauma to the jaw joint structures. Chronically or acutely sore and painful jaw muscles may accompany the bruxing habit. An orthodontist can help diagnose this problem. Your family dentist or orthodontist may place a bite splint or nightguard appliance that can protect the teeth and help jaw muscles relax, substantially reducing the original pain symptoms. Sometimes structural damage can require joint surgery and/or restoration of damaged teeth. Referral to a TMJ specialist may be suggested for some of these problems.