Orthodontic treatment typically only takes a few years from start to finish, but the results of treatment will last a lifetime. It really does matter who straightens your teeth. Your smile and your oral health are in the balance. Even during the relatively brief treatment period, you want the experience to be as pleasant and welcoming as possible.
When deciding between orthodontic providers in your community, here are five factors to consider:
1. Licensed orthodontist – In an attempt to earn more money, some general dentists have expanded their services to include orthodontic procedures, offering Invisalign treatments in particular. Orthodontics, however, is a specialized branch of dentistry that requires an additional two years of training. For the best outcomes, it’s best to choose someone who knows what they’re doing and has experience in various treatment methods.
2. Various, advanced treatment options – These days, there are many different ways to correct bites, and all the treatment options vary in aesthetics, duration, and price. What works best for someone else may not be best for you. Furthermore, new developments are happening all the time. Find an orthodontist who’s on top of the latest technology.
3. Office design – Most orthodontists have a website for their practices these days, and you should go online to see how professional their clinic looks. Even if the website doesn’t include office pictures, the office atmosphere is something you should take in during your initial visit. It needs to be comfortable and should inspire confidence. Judging a book by its cover might seem superficial, but the office’s appearance is indicative of how much the orthodontist will care about your smile’s appearance.
4. Fees – Costs are always a concern when orthodontic procedures are involved. To ensure that you do not get surprised by hidden costs and fees, you need to ask any questions that pop into your mind about treatment. Make sure that the orthodontist you’re considering explains all the costs properly and the possibility of additional charges. Ask if they have any payment plans or participate in payment programs.
5. Credibility – Research the reputation of any orthodontist you are considering entrusting with your health. If the orthodontist’s name was a referral from a satisfied patient, that’s a good start. Also, check online reviews, and take a note of any common observations from patients. What are the practice’s good points and bad points? What is the customer service like?
Make sure you take advantage of the initial consultation that most orthodontists offer, and during your visit, keep your own interests in mind. It’s a good sign if you leave the practice smiling. We hope that’s how you feel when you leave North Shore Orthodontics. Contact our office if you have any questions.
After you have your regular appointment to tighten your braces (or once you get braces first put on your teeth), it’s common for your mouth to feel somewhat sore. While you may find it a little reassuring to know that the tenderness you feel is normal, this knowledge doesn’t make the pain go away.
To find relief, try some of these tips: (more…)
Your appearance, from the clothes you choose to wear to everything else about your personal style, can be considered an expression of who you are on the inside. Rubber bands for braces come in a rainbow of colors, so your orthodontic treatment gives you another avenue to express your individuality.
To back up for a second, braces with brackets and wires require the use rubber bands, or more specifically “elastics.” The small elastics which fit around each bracket that hold the archwire in place are called ligatures and we’ll let you choose what colors you want for the ligatures. You can choose one color, alternating colors for each tooth, or make all the top teeth one color and all the bottom teeth a different one. These ligatures need to be changed every 4 to 6 weeks. That means you can switch out your colors for something new and novel during any check-up.
What color or colors should you choose? What will your choices say about you? Your rubber band colors might say that:
Coordinate the rubber band colors with the dominant colors of your wardrobe, or match them to a specific outfit you might be wearing to a big, upcoming event. You might also wish to match the color with your eyes or choose hues that complement your skin tone.
Our adult patients (and also some teenagers) tend to prefer colors that don’t pop out when they smile. They’ll choose clear, white, or silver elastics. Silver elastics are often the best choice, because white and clear elastics have a tendency to stain, particularly if someone is a drinker of tea, coffee or red wine.
You Have School Spirit
Every school has its mascot and colors. Use those colors to show your school pride!
You Have Team Spirit
Is your favorite professional or college sports team beginning a new season or doing well this year? Let the world know you’re a fan.
You Feel Festive
During Easter, choose pink and light blue. When Halloween comes around, choose orange and black or glow-in-the-dark variations. Christmastime brings out the red and green. And go for the red, white, and blue around the 4th of July.
You Have Personality
Are you passionate and bold? Red might be the color for you. On the other hand, if you’re cool and laid back, go with the blue. Choose purple if you’re feeling creative, daring or unconventional. Orange may be for you if you have a sunny and social disposition.
Although we have elastics in dozens of colors, ask us for recommendations regarding things you might not have thought of. For example, some colors like black or brown might make people think you have food caught in your teeth. If you go with white and your teeth are slightly yellow (as many people’s teeth are), the contrast could emphasize the yellow tint of your teeth. Yellow bands can have the same effect. And certain light colors can have a tendency to stain. We’re not saying you should never go for these colors, just to consider the bigger picture.
After reading this post, are you excited to try out new possibilities for your rubber band colors? Why not do an online search for inspiration? You’ll find examples of what others have chosen on Pinterest, blogs, and all over the web.
Invisalign might seem as if it’s been an option in the orthodontic toolbox for a long time, but the company that started it isn’t even twenty years old, and even then, it took a little while for the idea of using Invisalign’s clear plastic trays to catch on. The treatments really didn’t start gathering mainstream acceptance until around 2004. According to the Invisalign website, Invisalign now accounts for 6% of teen orthodontics and an impressive 31% of adult orthodontics.
Even though the majority of patients are using methods other than Invisalign, most at least inquire about the treatment. After all, Invisalign has some distinct advantages. Namely, the treatment is almost invisible. Also, because the trays are removable, patients can eat whatever they want and clean their teeth without any issues. So if you’re curious about how the Invisalign process works, here’s a rundown:
1.Have a consultation with your orthodontist
If you’re interested in Invisalign, we first have to determine if it is right for you. Invisalign is a versatile treatment system, but it doesn’t work for all orthodontic issues. Beyond clinical considerations, we also have to consider a patient’s ability or willingness to keep the trays in almost 24 hours a day, and patients or their families of course will want to check on insurance coverage and consider cost comparisons. But we wish to emphasize that even if you don’t ultimately receive treatment from us, you should receive Invisalign treatment from an orthodontist and not a dentist. Many dentists are now Invisalign providers, but they lack the additional training and specialization that orthodontists have, and outcomes are often inferior.
2.Your orthodontist creates a treatment plan
Once you’ve decided to begin Invisalign treatment, we take x-rays, photographs and impressions of your teeth. These records are sent to the Invisalign company along with our instructions of how we want the teeth to move. Invisalign technicians input the information into a computer to generate a 3-D rendering of your teeth and a computer model how they will move to their desired positions. We can check their work on our own office computers. There is sometimes a little back and forth between our office and Invisalign regarding adjustments until they get the course of treatment exactly right. When we are satisfied, we ask Invisalign to make the trays.
3.Wait for your aligners
It might take about a month for the aligners to arrive at our office.
4.Wear your aligners
Come to our office when the aligners are ready, and we will give them to you. They are all different and are meant to be worn in a specific order. Each aligner should be used for two weeks. As your treatment progresses, each new aligner will serve to bring your teeth into straighter and straighter positions. You can take out an aligner to eat or brush, but otherwise, you should basically always be wearing one during the treatment process. If you don’t, your teeth movements won’t progress according to plan, and as you put in new aligners, they won’t fit correctly.
5.Your orthodontist refines your smile
When the last tray has been worn for two weeks, you might very well be done with your Invisalign, but more often than not, a few teeth might still need some adjustments. It’s not rare for this to happen. We’ll inspect your teeth and may get back in touch with Invisalign to order a few more “refinement” trays. Again, they might take up to a month to arrive. Invisalign expects many patients to need refinement trays and there’s no additional charge for them.
6.Maintain your smile
You will need to wear retainers after treatment is complete to give the bones of your jaw time to solidify around your new teeth placements. Invisalign makes a product called Vivera which are similar to their other trays, but they’re a little thicker and more durable. They’re not meant to be changed out bi-weekly as Invisalign trays are. You can also use a wired retainer. It is essential to wear your retainer during the months immediately after treatment, but ideally you should wear a retainer a little each week for the rest of your life. Your teeth are always shifting and moving, after all.
Invisalign is a wonderful system that can be just as effective as traditional braces. If you’re interested in learning more, call us and schedule a free consultation.
In our field, orthodontists focus on the tangible aspects of patients’ smiles. Our specialty concerns straightening misaligned teeth and correcting malocclusions (incorrect bites). We look at the physical aspects of these problems and the physical solutions to them. At the same time, we are aware of the psychological impact of what we do for our patients. Even though orthodontics improves oral health, it also improves mental health and well-being in a number of ways. Let’s explore the benefits of braces beyond straight teeth.
We’ve begun working with patients with crooked teeth who are clearly shy about how they look. They tell us they try not to show their teeth when they smile for photos, and sometimes they cover their mouths with their hands when they talk. It’s so wonderful when they’re done with treatment to see how their attitude has improved. But these benefits are not just anecdotal. According to studies, young people after orthodontic treatment have shown higher emotional and social well-being than their peers who never had treatment.
Orthodontics make people’s smiles more attractive, and it’s human nature to respond positively to attractiveness. Beyond that, braces can help in other ways. For example, crooked teeth can trap food in hard-to-reach places and result in bad breath, so straight teeth can eliminate other issues that may impact someone’s ease in social settings.
If you have or once had a misaligned bite, you know that malocclusions can make the everyday functioning of your mouth annoying. When your teeth don’t meet up as they should, it can be hard to bite into food, and you might have to compensate by biting with other parts of your mouth. Or your misaligned teeth may cause a speech impediment. It’s also harder and more time consuming to clean crooked teeth as opposed to straight ones.
The benefit of improved concentration is primarily for those patients whose dental problems are not just annoying but are in fact painful. Jutting teeth can sometimes stick into the insides of cheeks or scrape against the tongue, and the pain can be even worse when the problems result in ongoing blisters or bleeding. Chronic pain can be very distracting. Orthodontic treatment takes care of it.
When you’re a baby or toddler, you live in the now and have little awareness of the benefits of delayed gratification. This awareness, of course, improves as people get older, but teenagers’ decisions still tend to be short-sighted, according to child development experts. The process of getting orthodontic treatment and the very tangible rewards at the end help exhibit firsthand the benefits of delayed gratification.
So while orthodontists may not have expertise in psychology or counseling, they still can have quite a bit of influence on their patients’ emotional happiness. Therefore, it’s important to take into consideration that there are many benefits of braces beyond just straightening your teeth.
Your braces may be history, but retainers are forever. Sorry if you weren’t aware of this fact, but it’s true. If you’ve had orthodontic treatment, you should wear a retainer not just after your braces are removed but for the rest of your life. How long do these retainers last? Well, it depends on what type you decide to go with.
Indeed, the most important time to wear a retainer is immediately after orthodontic treatment is completed, because the bone in your jaws needs some time to solidify around the new position of your teeth. But even when your braces are a distant memory, your teeth can still shift. A retainer is important to make sure your orthodontic work keeps your teeth in place. In other words, retainers “retain” the position.
So when you first begin wearing a retainer, you should wear it pretty much consistently over six months, and then you can gradually decrease usage. Once your teeth have settled into place, wearing a retainer while you sleep 3 to 5 times a week should be enough. But like toothbrushes, a retainer won’t last forever. How often do you need to replace them? That will depend on a variety of things, including what type of retainer you have.
A bonded retainer is a type of permanent retainer, in that it is essentially a wire that’s bonded to the back of your teeth. The glue that bonds the wire can wear out with the everyday activity your mouth experiences—eating, talking, brushing and flossing. A bonded retainer on your upper teeth may last up to three years, while a lower bonded retainer will last longer, as this part of the mouth doesn’t see as much activity.
Even if it’s been a short time since the retainers’ installation, the wires can become unbonded to the teeth without you realizing it. Ask your dentist during your regular dental checkups if anything’s amiss.
One problem with bonded retainers is that you can have a harder time cleaning your teeth, and sometimes things can happen that result in pain. You may also grow tired of wires being permanently in your mouth. At some point when you’re years out of braces, you may ask your orthodontist to remove your bonded retainers and switch to removable ones.
There are two main types of removable retainers, Hawley and Essix. Hawley retainers have an acrylic part that fits snugly to the roof of your mouth or behind your teeth, and from this base, wires protrude and wrap around the front of your teeth. Meanwhile, Essix retainers are single pieces of clear molded plastic that fit directly over your teeth.
Both types of retainers can wear out and get yucky. The Hawley wires may break off at the points of attachment to the tray. Fore Essix, hot water can distort the shape, and through wear and tear, it can come to pass that the retainers just don’t fit well after a while.
Essix retainers can last from six months to a few years. Hawley retainers will typically last longer, maybe five to ten years.
Invisalign also makes a line of retainers called Vivera which are similar to the Essix but are more customized to each patient’s individual bite. These are sold through a subscription service so you know you’ll always have a fresh one at hand.
Whatever retainer you end up using, be sure to have a dental professional check them now and then so you can be sure that your beautiful smile is always “retained.”
When we tell parents that their children should first visit an orthodontist at the age of seven, they are sometimes incredulous. “That young?” they say. “But they are still losing their baby teeth!”
Yes, your child’s mouth is still developing, and that’s sort of the point. If you wait until all of a person’s permanent teeth are in and their jaw and bite have settled into place, orthodontic adjustments will likely be more difficult and arduous. Think of it as a journey on a sailboat. If you make an effort to be sure that the winds are taking you in the right direction at the beginning of the trip, you won’t have to backtrack far to get to your destination. Age 7 is a time when that journey begins because we can start to see how the adult mouth is taking shape and we can steer its development into a healthy bite and straight teeth.
That’s not to say we are likely to recommend putting braces on the teeth of a seven-year-old. When braces are necessary, their wearing can only begin after permanent teeth have come in (notwithstanding late bloomers like wisdom teeth). But the idea is to begin orthodontic monitoring in the middle of childhood when jawbones are still at their most malleable. It can forestall serious problems in the future and make corrective treatment down the road simpler and quicker.
We can start noticing:
- A narrow jaw – If a child’s jaw is too narrow for all the permanent teeth coming in, it will result in crowded, overlapping and crooked teeth. We can widen arches to create space for teeth to come in.
- The number of teeth coming in – Adults will typically have 32 teeth grow in when their mouths are finished developing, but sometimes there are issues with this number. Too few teeth will cause spacing issues and too many will cause crowding. The number of teeth coming in can be determined at a young age.
- Crooked teeth – We can start making corrections to crooked teeth at a young age to ensure even wear and improve appearance. For front teeth that stick out, full corrections have to wait until adolescence but we can start to mitigate a severe problem.
- Bad bites – Bad bites, medically known as malocclusions, include underbites, overbites, open bites, and crossbites. Some of these problems can start being corrected with appliances early. Some are a result of bad habits that we can nip in the bud. Others will need to wait until further growth before they can be definitively fixed, but even in those cases, it’s best if we get an early head start.
As a parent, you may have been hoping to put off orthodontic work for your child until they become a teenager, and indeed braces are not likely to be needed on a seven-year-old. But a headstart at a young age will likely make any orthodontic corrections take less time and progress more efficiently.
The third molars at the very back of our jaws still remain a part of our dental makeup. These molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to push through, or “erupt,” from underneath the gum line. They are something to be wary of for orthodontic patients; wisdom teeth and braces don’t mix.
The Problems With Wisdom Teeth
While not everyone has these teeth, those that do potentially face an array of problems. First and foremost, wisdom teeth typically come into a jawline that is already developed, and in many cases, the jaw doesn’t have enough room for the wisdom teeth without pushing other teeth aside. Eventually, the pressure applied to the other teeth can crowd the entire bite-line and make teeth crooked.
In other cases, the wisdom teeth can’t erupt through the gum because all the other teeth block them. They might even push through sideways underneath the gum directly into the roots of adjacent teeth. In addition to causing teeth misalignment, these “impacted” wisdom teeth can cause a great deal of discomfort and even become infected. In these cases, the teeth need to be surgically removed.
When Wisdom Teeth Conflict With Braces
We typically encourage patients to get treatment in their teen years. This window of opportunity comes after the adult teeth have come in but while faces and jaws are still developing and are therefore easier to shape. Because the effect of wisdom teeth is uncertain, we don’t recommend waiting several years to see what happens with them. But if wisdom teeth do develop after treatment, there is a possibility that these teeth will interfere with the corrected bite. Sometimes wisdom teeth grow in without any problems, but in other cases, we recommend their removal.
Sign up for Surgery
If wisdom teeth do appear on the scene and pose a problem, in most cases removal is not that big of a deal but it does require surgery. The procedure is typically performed in the office of a dentist or oral surgeon. You’ll be given a local anesthetic to numb your mouth, and sometimes patients are given general anesthesia if many wisdom teeth are removed at once. After surgery, there will be some swelling and pain, but recovery normally takes a few days.