The Early Treatment Orthodontics Guide was created to help parents better understand the potential benefits of early treatment. Contact us to schedule a Free Screening for your child.
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If you open up an old yearbook or glance through prom pictures from the 70’s and 80’s, there is one glaring article that will stand out more than the teased mullets, acid-washed pants and neon clothing… Braces! Orthodontics was a form of treatment common with high-school kids back in the day. However, the trends are a-changing. In fact, you rarely ever see a high-school kid sporting braces or orthodontic headgear. This is because of the life-changing benefits of early orthodontic treatment.
What is Early Orthodontics?
The primary objective of orthodontics is straightforward: the achievement of a perfect bite. A perfect bite is one in which
- There is a functional relationship between the upper and lower jaw.
- The teeth are staggered between one another, or fitting together like the teeth between gears.
With this relationship, orthodontists hope to achieve optimal functional stability for the patient’s teeth and musculature. Or simply put, the perfect bite! An added benefit of orthodontic treatment is that it creates a foundation for future dental work. This enables future restorative dentists to do their best work. We ultimately seek to achieve functional stability in the musculature including functions that occur inside the oral cavity like breathing and swallowing.
Orthodontic treatment goes beyond the treatment of teeth to include the added benefit of enhanced aesthetics. Many patients tend to seek our care to improve aesthetic quality. In reality, our treatments are geared toward functional aspects; the aesthetic aspect is a byproduct. The field of orthodontics provides for a variety of methods of treatment. Broadly, these are early orthodontic treatment, dentofacial orthopedics, surgical orthodontics and craniofacial orthodontics. An orthodontist will typically select one or a combination of these to treat patients.
What are the Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment?
There was a time when most parents didn’t begin to think about the need for orthodontic treatment for their children until the teenage years. In the past, the trend for orthodontic treatment was to wait until most or all of a child’s permanent teeth had come in. However, most orthodontic problems are much easier to correct sooner rather than later. This is why professionals recommend and insist upon early orthodontic treatment. Now, parents, dentists and orthodontists alike look toward treating children that haven’t quite hit their teen years.
Certain orthodontic conditions can be treated as early as 7 or 8 years old. Although they may not be able to be totally corrected at that time, early orthodontic treatment will guide the growth and development of your children’s jaws and teeth so they will not require orthodontic treatment later in life. In fact, early orthodontic treatment can drastically reduce the amount of treatment that a child needs to undergo in his/her lifetime. Early treatment and intervention is the key to most orthodontic problems, including the possible complications that may arise later in life. Early intervention is preventive care. You need no explanation why preventive care is a better approach. Most orthodontic problems are much easier to correct sooner rather than later.
Discrepancies in growth and development may exist in the respective widths of the child’s upper and lower jaws. Ideally, the upper jaw accepts the lower jaw like a door frame accepts a door. Additionally, the upper teeth should bite down on the outside of the lower teeth. When biting all the way down, the full length of the lower front teeth should be visible. Furthermore, your child should not bite too deeply over the lower front teeth or have an opening in the front.
The way the bite fits together on the sides is the foundation of our bite. Just like the foundation of a house, it is the most important part of the bite. Even though it is the part nobody sees in the mirror when they smile. The front cusp of the upper molar should fit into the groove of the lower molar so that all the teeth fit together like bricks in a wall.
The most important relationship between the teeth is the fit of the upper canine tooth between the lower canine and the lower first premolar. This is because when your children shift their jaws from side to side when chewing food, or when they clench or grind at night, they glide off of those teeth and help protect their jaw joints. Not only does the fit matter for aesthetic reasons, but they are also important from a functional point of view.
As parents, it is important that you are aware of the signs you should be looking for in your children that precipitate the need for an orthodontic visit. The following are some very common orthodontic problems that children manifest. These can be corrected completely with early intervention. The following sections explain these problems and help you understand what signs you should look out for in your child.
What Is the Best Age to Visit an Orthodontist for The First Time?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be screened as early as age seven. An early visit helps us identify contributing problems that might require additional orthodontics in the future. Not every patient who comes into the orthodontist’s office at age seven requires or commences with a course of treatment. However, it is wise to have an educated eye examine the patient to identify factors that may require early intervention.
The probability of successful treatment and definitive impact is higher with a younger patient than with an older one. Age should not be the only determinant, however. It is never too early to schedule your child’s first orthodontic consultation. Orthodontists are often the first line of defense in identifying overlooked issues like tongue dysfunction and breathing problems. Early detection and treatment of these issues is vital. We therefore encourage patients with complaints to visit an orthodontist, regardless of age.
What Are The Most Common Early Orthodontic Treatments?
There are several conditions that can benefit from early orthodontic treatments.
Children usually lose their baby teeth in the same order the teeth came in. If a patient does not lose baby teeth within what is considered the normal time frame and order, there are several issues that can require orthodontic intervention. Crowding of teeth may occur if the baby teeth are lost too soon. If baby teeth fall out too late, the permanent teeth may come in crowded and also be crooked. If a permanent tooth comes in before a baby tooth is lost, it can create crowding. Although crowding isn’t an emergency, it is something that can affect the smile or bite of a child. If a child loses a tooth due to trauma or decay, early orthodontic treatment can include using a spacer to make sure that the permanent tooth comes in correctly.
While there are overbites that are hereditary, others are caused by malformed jaws. An overbite is a malocclusion and it occurs when the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw. This is because of an underdeveloped lower jaw, or an overdeveloped upper jaw. Factors like thumb-sucking, tongue thrusts and prolonged bottle-feeding can result in overbites. Other habits like biting nails and chewing eraser-heads are also know to contribute to overbites.
While not all patients with overbites have problems, some with severe cases might suffer from jaw pain, poor dental and oral health, sleep apnea and other breathing difficulties, speech issues and low self-esteem.
An underbite is a malocclusion in which the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth. This typically occurs when the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. The severity of an underbite can range from mild (where the two rows of teeth almost meet) to severe (where the teeth do not meet at all). The main cause of an underbite is a misalignment of the lower jaw. Some patients are born with it; others inherit it; while yet others may develop an underbite because of poor dental care and bad habits.
Underbites don’t always cause problems. However, even if your child doesn’t suffer from a speech impediment or sinus problems, they may be subject to teasing from other children. Early orthodontic treatment involves taking x-rays and a mold to determine the cause of the misplaced bite. Then, treatment is customized for each child.
Children with underbites typically have trouble eating and speaking. Some might also suffer from chronic jaw pain, headaches and ear aches, tooth decay, halitosis, sleep apnea and other breathing difficulties.
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A crossbite can be either anterior or posterior. Essentially, it means that when your child bites down, their teeth don’t line up properly. A crossbite can cause dental problems and problems for your child’s self-esteem. It’s possible that an untreated crossbite can cause your child’s face to develop in an asymmetrical fashion. It can also cause gum disease and chronic pain in the jaw, neck and shoulders. A crossbite can be corrected with early orthodontic treatment and can save your child from a life full of chronic pain and low self-esteem.
The upper jaw behaves like a door frame that accepts a door closing into it. A small upper jaw might affect the way the lower jaw is able to close into it. If your child has such a jaw, it might develop into a crossbite. A unilateral crossbite is a problem any orthodontic will prefer to see prior to age 7. It is treated with a simple appliance that corrects the width of the upper jaw while allowing the lower jaw to re-center itself. It, therefore, contributes to more favorable future growth.
Prolonged thumb sucking can cause an open bite. An open bite is a term used to describe when the upper and lower teeth are unable to make physical contact with each other. An open bite is known as maxillary impaction. The objective of early orthodontic in such a case will be to correct the space between the front and back teeth when your child bites down.
Sometimes an open bite corrects itself, but many times it can only be corrected with orthodontic care. In severe cases, surgical orthodontics might be the only way to correct the open bite. During surgery, bone from the upper jaw is removed and placed higher in order to help correct the problem. The lower jaw is repositioned as well.
Another serious concern is a big overjet. An overjet is when the upper and lower central incisors overlap. This is another issue that has a better chance of being corrected if treated early. Starting treatment early gives your orthodontist the time needed to help the lower jaw grow forward or push the upper jaw back into a better position.
What Is Dentofacial Orthopedics?
Dentofacial orthopedics is a specialized form of dental care for children and adolescents. The purpose of dentofacial orthopedics is to help guide the growth and development of the face. As you may know, orthopedics is a term that is commonly used to refer to a doctor who specializes in bone health. If you have ever broken a bone, you likely met with an orthopedist. Let’s break down the term “dentofacial orthopedics” so it is clearer. The term “dentofacial” refers specifically to matters of the teeth and the face. The word “orthopedics” has to do with bone health. Therefore, a professional who practices dentofacial orthopedics provides specialized services in matters of the growth and development of the bones in the face as they relate to dental issues.
Why Dentofacial Orthopedics?
Dentofacial orthopedics is a common form of treatment for both young people and adults. However, dentofacial orthopedic treatment is usually more tolerable for younger patients. In children and adolescents, the purpose of dentofacial orthopedics is to help guide the growth of the bones. This is easier in children and adolescents because their bones have not yet finished growing.
Adult patients also benefit from dentofacial orthopedic treatment. However, it is important to note that the bones in the face of an adult have finished growing. This is why adults undergoing dentofacial orthopedics will often require surgery during their treatment. This is because it is much more difficult to adjust the bite and move the teeth to the right places in adults.
What Conditions Can Dentofacial Orthopedics Treat?
Dentofacial orthopedics is used as a corrective method for misaligned bites. The scientific term for it is “malocclusion”. Simply put, it means that the bite of the patient is misaligned in some form. The degree of this misalignment ranges from minor to severe.
Patients with an overbite – a malocclusion – stand to benefit greatly from dentofacial orthopedics. An overbite is when the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw. An overbite often tends to result in the overcrowding of teeth. Dentofacial orthopedic appliances are used to correct overbites. Treatment generally lasts between 6-12 months, provided it commences while the patient is between 8-10 years of age. Overbites usually do not cause much of a problem. However, there are some cases where the overbite is more severe. The most common accompanying issue with a severe overbite is a speech impediment. Unfortunately, children often become victims of bullying and teasing at school because of severe malocclusions.
Another malocclusion is an underbite. This occurs when the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. Left untreated, it can develop into TMJ disorders. The misalignment causes increased friction. Therefore, your child’s tooth enamel wears down faster. As with overbites, treatment lasts between 6-12 months provided the patient is 8-10 years old.
A crossbite occurs when one jaw is narrower than the other. A crossbite can be either unilateral or bilateral. Furthermore, depending on which jaw is the narrower, your child could have an anterior or a posterior crossbite. Left untreated, a crossbite can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Moreover, because a crossbite creates an uneven bite, your child’s face could develop asymmetrically. In spite of the serious consequences associated with untreated crossbites, the matter can interestingly take as little as 30 days to treat.
What is Craniofacial Orthodontics?
Craniofacial orthodontics is a specialized area of orthodontics that focuses on treating cleft lips and palates, as well as other birth defects that affect the development of the teeth and jaws. Specialists in the field do not work on their own. Rather, they most often partner with other specialists including speech therapists, oral surgeons and plastic surgeons who specialize in craniofacial repairs. Craniofacial orthodontics handles the non-surgical portion of treating cleft lip and palate.
What Is Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate?
Cleft lips and cleft palates are birth defects. They are facial and oral malformations. The condition develops in utero during an extremely early part of the pregnancy. A cleft signifies that there is not enough tissue in the mouth or around the lip. Therefore, the areas do not join together as they should.
A cleft lip means that the lip is split into two parts instead of being one. It causes a gap to appear between the two parts of the lip. It can even extend beyond the base of the child’s nose. Because of the lack of tissue, the split in the lip can also mean that there is less bone and gum tissue in the mouth. The area behind your upper top teeth is known as your palate. A cleft palate is when there is a split in the palate like in the lip. It can happen at the front of the palate in the bony area or it can occur toward the back of the palate in the softer area.
Cleft lips and palates can be an extremely serious condition. They can affect only one side of the lip and palate or both sides. A cleft palate is the fourth most common birth defect in the United States. It occurs in around 1 of every 700 births.
Clefting is something that is quite obvious at birth. That makes diagnosing a cleft lip and palate easier than other types of birth defects. Often, it can even be diagnosed through ultrasound before the baby is born. This is important because there are times when a cleft lip and palate may be indicators of other abnormalities.
How is Cleft Lip and Palate Treated?
Generally, treatment for cleft lip and palate requires surgical correction. Craniofacial orthodontists specialize in the treatment of this condition. However, it can be rather challenging to estimate the number of surgeries that could be required to correct it. Naturally, treatment depends on the severity of the disorder. The optimal time for treatment of cleft lip and palate is between three and six months of age.
The first surgery is designed to repair the palate. The goal of this surgery is to minimize the likelihood of liquids to develop in the ears. This surgery will also help the child’s jaws and teeth grow into the right places.
Often, children undergo another surgery for cleft lip and palate when they are around 8 years old. The goal of this surgery is to perform a bone graft (although this isn’t always needed). The bone graft supports the permanent teeth and may also be used to fill in the upper gums.
Further surgeries for cleft lip and palate that occur from this point are often done to help the child improve their speech. Generally, future surgeries are only needed by around 1/5 of the children diagnosed with cleft lip and palate.
Sometimes, the additional surgeries do not serve the sole purpose of improving speech only. There are times when future surgeries are needed for functional and/or cosmetic reasons. Some children need surgery to help them improve the way that they are able to open and close their mouths. Or they may need surgery simply to improve the appearance of the skin. In other cases, they may need surgery to help improve breathing.
What Complications Can Arise from Cleft Lip and Palate?
Thankfully, when cleft lips and cleft palates are treated using craniofacial orthodontics at an early enough age, they could very well achieve a normal appearance, giving the patient normal speech patterns and the ability to eat without issues. When children with cleft lips and cleft palates are not treated, serious complications can occur including:
- difficulty feeding as babies
- difficulty eating as they get older
- ear infections as a result of fluid build-up
- hearing loss
- future dental problems
- speech difficulties
- low self-esteem
What Is The Treatment Plan for Cleft Lip and Palate?
If your child is born with cleft lip and palate, you should consult with a craniofacial orthodontist. One of the keys to successfully treating clefting is early dental intervention. Your craniofacial orthodontist will show you the proper way to care for your child’s mouth. If your child’s mouth and teeth cannot be properly cleaned with a soft bristled toothbrush, your child’s craniofacial orthodontist can recommend a tool known as a toothette. Your child’s routine dental care (check-ups, cleanings, and fluoride treatment) should begin around their first birthday.
Craniofacial orthodontics should begin before your child’s teeth begin to emerge from the gums. Early surgical intervention usually occurs around three to six months of age. This is crucial for future oral development. The other benefit to early contact with an orthodontist is having an expert who can answer your questions. Your child’s facial development will be assessed and a plan will be made to best treat your child’s cleft lip and/or cleft palate. Additionally, after your child’s permanent teeth have come, the orthodontist can help align the teeth.
Post-care may include speech, plastic surgery and the use of dental appliances to help make up for any missing teeth. Your child may also need a palate lift or a speech bulb. The craniofacial orthodontist will work directly with the speech therapist if your child requires either of these dental appliances to help normalize their speech.
Complications Arising from Untreated Orthodontic Problems
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to either stop breathing or their breaths become extremely shallow during sleep. Sleep apnea affects 22 million Americans. These shallow breaths or the lack of breathing can last seconds or minutes. Normal breathing often restarts with a choking or snoring noise. Sleep apnea can cause you to feel unrested even if you slept for seven hours or more. This is because the symptoms of sleep apnea often causes patients to leave their deep sleep and enter into a lighter sleep.
What Are Some Signs of Sleep Apnea?
There are some common signs of sleep apnea. Some you may notice and some you may not notice in yourself.
- Unusually loud snoring.
- You stop breathing during your sleep. This is a sign that somebody else will usually notice first.
- You wake up suddenly feeling short of breath.
- You wake up with an unusually dry mouth or with a sore throat.
- You wake up every morning with a headache.
- You struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep (or you struggle with both).
- You are excessively tired during the day.
- You struggle to pay attention during the day.
- You’re irritable.
If you have these signs or if someone in your family tells you that they’ve noticed them in you, you should make an appointment with an experienced orthodontist to talk about your concerns.
Are There Different Types of Sleep Apnea?
There are three different types of sleep apnea. The first type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is the most commonly diagnosed type of sleep apnea. Studies suggest that only about 10% of people with OSA receive medical treatment. This is because the majority of OSA sufferers are often undiagnosed. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when part or all of the airway is blocked during sleep. This may happen because the tongue rolls toward the back of the mouth or because a patient has an excess of fatty tissue that blocks the throat. OSA diagnoses range from mild, moderate, or severe.
Mild OSA means that the sufferer experiences between 5 and 14 interruptions each hour during their sleep cycle.
Moderate OSA means that the sufferer experiences 15 to 30 interruptions each hour during their sleep cycle.
Severe OSA means that the sufferer experiences 30 or more interruptions each hour during their sleep cycle.
Central sleep apnea (CSA) isn’t caused by your airway getting blocked by your tongue or other fatty tissue. Instead, central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t send the message to your muscles to keep breathing. Your brain is part of your central nervous symptom. Your brain isn’t communicating properly when you’re asleep to keep you breathing normally. CSA isn’t as common as OSA. It is a side effect of a brain injury or a medical issue that affects the brain. With CSA, a common symptom is mood swings.
The third type of sleep apnea is complex sleep apnea. This means that you have a combination of OSA and CSA. Healthcare professionals will usually diagnose complex sleep apnea after a sleep study that shows a patient has signs of each.
What Are The Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea?
Risk factors vary depending on the type of sleep apnea. However, some factors are common with all three types.
Risk factors for OSA include:
- Being overweight. This can cause an increase in fatty tissue that restricts the flow of air as you sleep.
- Your age. As we get older, we lose muscle tone even in our throats. Since the muscles are weaker, they can collapse over the airway and make it harder to breathe when you are sleeping.
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids. These can block your airway.
- Frequent use of intoxicants. This can cause the throat muscles to relax and block the airway during sleep.
- Smoking can cause irritation to your airway and make it harder to breathe.
- Family history. Genetics play a major role in the development of sleep apnea. Those with a family history of sleep apnea are at an increased risk.
Risk factors for CSA include:
- Parkinson’s Disease.
- Brain infection.
- Use of narcotics.
- Heart failure.
- Being overweight.
- Atrial fibrillation.
- Sleeping at higher altitudes.
- Brain tumor.
- Use of opioid medication.
It is important to note that complex sleep apnea includes the risk factors of both OSA and CSA.
How Can Sleep Apnea Be Dangerous?
Sleep apnea can be dangerous. It deprives our bodies of the oxygen we need to function properly. When this happens, we suffer more than a poor night’s sleep or fatigue during the day. Untreated, sleep apnea can cause numerous health problems. Sometimes, the symptoms of sleep apnea are signs of an underlying health condition.
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure. For people who develop high blood pressure because of sleep apnea, the former usually gets better once they start treatment for the latter. It can also lead to heart disease and heart attacks. This is attributed to the heart getting the oxygen that it needs and from the stress of not sleeping.
Another complication of untreated sleep apnea is diabetes. Although there’s not a direct link between the two at this time, the common symptom of obesity is a link between the two diseases. Many healthcare professionals believe that lack of sleep can cause you to become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is a warning sign of the onset of diabetes in the future.
Sleep apnea can cause or exacerbate many mental health problems. The lack of sleep can cause you to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also cause current mental illnesses to become more pronounced.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
How sleep apnea is treated depends, ultimately, on which form of sleep apnea you are diagnosed with. OSA has several treatments. Some treatments are more conservative than others. It may be treated by use of a CPAP, an APAP, or a BIPAP machine. These machines force air through your airway while you are sleeping. This is known as positive airway pressure (PAP). Your doctor may prescribe the use of an oral appliance. An oral appliance is something that a patient wears in their mouth while they sleep. The two main types hold your jaws in a certain position and hold your tongue in a certain position. The objective of both is to keep your airway from becoming blocked. For severe OSA, surgery may also be an option.
Central sleep apnea is often treated with a CPAP or BPAP. Another option is an ASV. An ASV is an Adaptive-servo ventilation device. It makes automatic adjustments to compensate for any abnormal breathing patterns the patient may have when they are asleep. Medications may also be prescribed to people who have CSA. Usually, medications are not prescribed unless positive airway pressure doesn’t work.
Complex sleep apnea treatments will ultimately depend on which symptoms you exhibit. We can help develop a custom plan to treat your CSA.
If you believe that someone in your family has sleep apnea, you should keep a list of the symptoms and when they occur. Then, talk to the person about the benefits of being evaluated for sleep apnea.
Innovative Orthodontic Appliances
What is a Temporary Anchorage Device?
TAD is an abbreviation for temporary anchorage devices. In the simplest explanation, TADs are mini-implants in the mouth. The function they serve is to hold the teeth in a certain place. Orthodontists frequently use temporary anchorage devices to align and support the teeth of the patient during treatment.
Temporary Anchorage Devices are relatively new to the market. The FDA only recently approved them for use in 2005. Before TADs, many patients had to use headgear in order to keep their teeth in place. The issue with headgear lies in patient cooperation. If patients do not wear the headgear as directed, their teeth will not fully benefit from orthodontic treatment. TADs enable orthodontists to ensure that the teeth have proper support for the correct amount of time. Currently, TADs are the most reliable method to anchor teeth during the treatment process.
There are two types of TADs: an indirect anchorage and a direct anchorage. An indirect TAD links to your teeth. Orthodontists use TADs when they do not want to anchor the teeth to each other. This is because it is more flexible. A direct TAD is an anchor that supports tension on certain teeth that need to be moved. TADs are removed after the orthodontic treatment is completed.
How are TADs Placed?
During orthodontic treatment, orthodontists usually have to remove premolars to make room in the mouth to move the teeth into their proper positions. TADs are important because they can help support teeth during the orthodontic process instead of having to remove them. TADs also provide anchorage when the orthodontist must move teeth. They can also help to anchor teeth when there is a need to correct a gap between the teeth.
TADs are made out of titanium alloy. Titanium alloy is extremely strong and doesn’t rust. That’s two of the many reasons why titanium alloy is an ideal choice of material for TADs. TADs have two parts. The first part is the implant head. This is the part of the TAD that is used to secure the teeth. The second part of the TAD is the implant body. It is similar to a screw in nature. It is put into the bone to act as an anchor.
The head of the TAD has an eyelet that is used by the orthodontist to thread the wire through in order to secure the teeth. TADs have a smooth part that both suppresses growth of the gum material where the implant is located and to also minimize the risk of bacterial infection.
There are several different TADs. Your orthodontist will let you know which TAD will best meet the goals of your treatment. Regardless of the type, the screw portion of the TAD is drilled into the jaw. Although it may sound painful, it’s often not. It’s generally painless because the bone in your jaw has no pain receptors. Your orthodontist will first apply a topical analgesic to numb your oral tissue. You will feel pressure when your orthodontist inserts the TADs.
In fact, TADs are also not painful to remove. When it is time for your TAD to be removed, your orthodontist will apply a topical analgesic to numb your oral tissue. Then they will back the TAD out. It usually takes only a few seconds.
Are TAD’s Uncomfortable?
Generally, most patients experience no discomfort after the procedure. If you do find that you have discomfort from your TADs, take some over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. If you are experiencing discomfort in the gum line, you can take over-the-counter meication or cover the tip of the TAD with a cotton swab. Then, make an appointment with your orthodontist.
How Do I Clean My TAD?
Believe it or not, keeping your TAD clean is extremely easy. You will clean your TAD three times each day using a soft toothbrush. Your orthodontist will also give you a special mouthwash to use. It is important that you use it as directed. The mouthwash helps minimize the growth of microbial bacteria that can cause infection. You should use the mouthwash twice each day.
How Long Are TAD’s Needed?
How long you will need a TAD depends on the problem that your orthodontist is correcting. A patient usually does not require a TAD for longer than a few months. Again, though, this depends largely on your specific issue. Your orthodontist will be able to give you an idea of how long you’ll need the TAD.
What Are Clear Braces?
Clear braces, or invisible braces, are less conspicuous than traditional braces. These are ideal for both adolescents and adults. The purpose of clear braces is to not draw attention to the mouth. Hence, they are less obvious. As a result, the wearer is more confident about their appearance whilst undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Traditional braces are made from stainless steel. The brackets are cemented onto your teeth. The metal wires, known as a metal archway, is run through the bracket. Clear braces perform the same job as traditional braces. While traditional braces make use of metal wires, or a metal archway, clear braces allow patients to choose between clear ceramic archways or metal ones. Clear archways are preferred by people who struggle with the prospect of sporting unsightly metallic braces.
After the orthodontist affixes the braces to your teeth, you will visit him/her every 4-6 weeks for adjustments. The typical amount of time that one wears clear braces is 1-3 years. After treatment is complete, patients wear retainers to keep their teeth in the right place.
Patients are advised to follow their orthodontists’ instructions about maintenance of the braces. Not doing so can cause noticeable discoloration of the braces. We advise patients to stay away from consumables that cause staining, like coffee, tea, red wine, tomato based sauces, curry and smoking.
It is also important that you brush your teeth three times a day. These are best practices for good oral health, and it will help protect clear braces from staining. Additionally, you should carry on your person a travel toothbrush and a small container of toothpaste the event that you are dining out and discover food stuck in your braces. While the same holds true with metal braces, it becomes distinctly more noticeable with clear braces.
What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Clear Braces?
There are two distinct advantages of clear braces. The first is that clear braces are more favorable aesthetically. The brackets are distinctly less obvious with clear braces. This is because they are made from ceramic. This is a huge benefit for people who feel self-conscious about the fact that they will be pursuing orthodontic treatment. The second advantage is in the treatment time. In many instances, clear braces provide results faster than clear aligners.
There are some disadvantages with clear braces. The first is that some may find the cost restrictive. Clear braces are more expensive than traditional braces. If you find that clear braces are outside of your financial reach, talk with your orthodontist about financing options. The second disadvantage is that the ceramic brackets are susceptible to staining. If any staining occurs, the brackets will likely become more conspicuous. Patients usually dedicate considerable time and effort to keep clear braces clean.
How Do I Know If Im A Good Candidate for Clear or Ceramic Braces?
Your orthodontist will likely refer to clear braces as ceramic braces. To determine whether or not clear braces are the right option for you, you need to:
- Make sure that you really can and want to devote the extra time it will take to keep your clear braces clean.
- Make sure that you can devote yourself to giving up certain foods and drinks (and smoking) during your treatment. Not doing so will stain ceramic brackets.
- Check on the cost and check with your dental insurance company. Find out what portion you will be responsible to pay. Talk with your orthodontist to ask about financing options, if needed.
- Consult with your orthodontist about whether clear braces are the best choice for you. Although orthodontists may use clear braces to treat those issues typical of traditional braces, it is important to speak to your orthodontist first. He/she is the only professional who will be able to help you decide which treatment is best for you.
What Is Invisalign?
Invisalign® is a system of clear aligners that help teenagers and adults get the straight smiles that they want without the use of traditional or clear braces. Since Invisalign® aligners are made specifically to treat your orthodontic needs, they are often more comfortable for you to wear.
The FDA has classified Invisalign as a Class II medical device. The FDA cleared Invisalign® for use by the public in 1998. Invisalign® aligners and retainers are phthalate free. They are made from Class VI (medical grade) high molecule weight polyurethane resins.
Invisalign is more expensive than traditional braces. However, for a lot of patients, the increased rates are worth it. You should review your dental insurance policy to determine if it covers the cost. Many Invisalign providers also have financial plans to make the smile of your dreams more affordable.
What Are The Benefits of Invisalign?
Invisalign® has many benefits. First, Invisalign is more comfortable than traditional braces. If you currently have traditional or clear braces, you do have the option of talking with your orthodontist to find out if you can switch to Invisalign. Many orthodontists treat their patients by combining the use of traditional braces and Invisalign.
One of the things that people hate about having traditional or even clear braces is that they have to give up certain foods during treatment. With Invisalign, there are no food restrictions. One of the few times that you remove your aligners is when you are eating. Then, you clean your teeth and put your aligners back in. You can continue to eat crunchy foods, drink coffee, and eat foods with tomato-based sauces. The only restriction generally given with Invisalign is to avoid chewing gum. This is because chewing-gum sticks to your aligners.
If you’re worried about the pain that is often associated with the use of traditional braces, then you should consider Invisalign. Although some patients report minor discomfort in the first few days of a using a new aligner, it is generally far less uncomfortable than traditional or clear braces. Patients often report it not as feeling painful, but as a feeling of pressure in their mouth.
Invisalign is clear and easy to use. It is great for people who are worried about the attention they may get from wearing traditional braces. Since they look and fit similar to a custom whitening tray, they aren’t as noticeable during treatment. Some patients do report having a small lisp during the first few days of treatment. However, this goes away as your tongue learns to navigate in your mouth with the aligners.
Invisalign treatment takes, on average, about a year. However, it could take more time to help you get the smile of your dreams. Invisalign has come a long way since its first approval for use in 1998. Orthodontists now use it to treat various bite problems. So, if you thought that you wouldn’t qualify for Invisalign, check with an orthodontist who specializes in its use. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Cutting-Edge Diagnostic Tools and Technologies
Dental and orthodontic treatment have come a long way during the last few decades, and not just in treatment options. Before your dentist or orthodontist fills cavities, performs root canals or oral surgery, or even fits you for certain types of oral appliances, they first take x-rays and other imaging of your teeth. This helps your dental professional ensure that they choose the right treatments.
What Are iCat Scans?
An i-CAT® Scan is used by orthodontists to create a 3D view of your teeth and the craniofacial structure. It takes less than five seconds. i-CAT Scan is revolutionary not just because of its 3D results and quick use. It also helps protect you from being overexposed to radiation. The technology can be specifically targeted and provides a lower dose of radiation than older options.
i-CAT Scan helps ensure that your dental or orthodontic treatment is perfect for you. It gives your dental professional more accuracy and clearer images. If you need a temporary anchorage device, iCAT® Scan makes the placement options perfectly clear to your orthodontist. For younger people, i-CAT Scan can still be used. This technology can help dental professionals assess teeth that have yet to surface as well as showing root placement and impactions.
i-CAT Scan has different options for use depending on whether you need implants or orthodontic care.
Are i-Cat Scans Safe for Pregnant Women?
There are times when pregnant women need dental implants or orthodontic care that may not be able to wait until after the birth of their baby. Although i-CAT Scans have a low radiation exposure, your dental professional may advise you to hold off as long as possible. There are often temporary measures that can be implemented by your dental professional in order for you to get some amount of treatment now if necessary and wait until after the baby is born for an i-CAT Scan.
What Is CBCT Dental Imaging?
CBCT Dental Imaging, also known as cone beam computed tomography is another recent advancement in dental technology. It provides another quick way for dental professionals to examine the positioning of your teeth, their roots, and the bones in your face. It takes only 20 seconds and, much like an i-CAT Scan, it has a much lower dose of radiation than older types of CT scans. This type of scan is used to help plan your dental treatment.
Common uses for CBCT Dental Imaging include planning for dental implants, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontic treatment, and the assessment and treatment of TMJ.
Is CBCT Dental Imaging Safe for Pregnant Women?
Because a CBCT dental imaging procedure is a CT scan, we do not recommend it for pregnant women. There is no known “safe” level of exposure for unborn babies. This is why it is safest to wait for this type of dental scan until after the end of your pregnancy.
What Should Patients Know About CBCT Imaging?
Because the i-CAT® Scan and CBCT imaging are both a form of CT scan, there are somethings that you need to know. As mentioned earlier, both have a lower amount of radiation exposure than their predecessors. Regardless of which of these scans you will undergo, the things you need to know are the same.
The processes are painless. You sit upright in a chair. In most CBCT dental imaging, a device moves around your head. It takes a lot of pictures in a very short amount of time. Because both the i-CAT Scan and CBCT Dental Imaging Machines take the pictures so quickly, it is ideal for both younger patients and older patients. In order for your dental professional to get the best images possible out of the i-CAT Scan or a CBCT Dental Imaging Machine, you must sit still. This keeps the images from being fuzzy.
Wear comfortable clothing. You should not wear jewelry including earrings, necklaces, or piercings. Ideally, you should not wear hairpins or glasses. You may be asked to remove any dental appliances that are in your mouth. This may include your dentures. However, do not just leave your dentures or dental appliances at home. Your orthodontist may find them useful after the scans in order to help plan your treatment.
You should reach out to your dental insurance company, or call our office before your scan. It’s important that you know if any portion of the i-CAT Scan or CBCT dental imaging is covered. If so, what portion of the payment you will be responsible in covering.
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I have never heard of Invisalign before. My daughter is needing braces, but she doesn’t want the hassle of giving up some of the foods she loves. As you mentioned, she wont have to do that with Invisalign. I will have to talk to her orthodontist, and see if this is an option for her.