Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program following dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.
Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child’s physician.
Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (e.g., expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, and underbites, or harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Twenty to twenty-five percent of orthodontic patients today are adults.
Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.
Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.