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Braces FAQs

What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics (from Greek orthos “straight or proper”; and odons “tooth”) is the specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships or both.

What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist with an additional 2-3 years of full-time post-Doctoral studying to specialize in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to achieve facial balance/harmony. All orthodontists are dentists, however, not all dentists are orthodontists.

Should I see a general dentist while I have braces?
Yes. You should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.

How do you know if a person needs orthodontic treatment?
It is often difficult to know if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. The best way to find out if you have orthodontic problems is to visit an orthodontist. Since our initial exam is complimentary, it only makes sense to schedule a consultation with us and we will be happy to give recommendations.

Am I a candidate for orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile.

What are the signs or symptoms of orthodontic problems?
Although determining treatment needs is difficult for you to assess, the following may help in prompting you to seek our orthodontists’ advice.

Look at the teeth at any age. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps between your child’s teeth or overlapping teeth, orthodontic treatment is needed.

Bite all the way down, but keep your lips open so you see can the teeth. Do the front top teeth line up with the bottom? Do the top teeth protrude out away from the bottom teeth? Do the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth? Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth? All these are indicators for potential orthodontic treatment.

Look at the alignment of the jaws. Does the jaw shift off center during biting down? If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, it suggests a skeletal or jaw bone problem, which requires early orthodontic intervention.

These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth (bucked teeth)
  • Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger or thumb sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth

Why should malocclusions be treated?
According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems:

  • Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
  • Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping.
  • Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear.
  • Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.

Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile—it creates a healthier you.

At what age should an orthodontist see my child? Do all baby teeth have to fall before initiating orthodontic treatment?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age seven. Hence all baby teeth need not be gone before initiating orthodontic treatment. In fact, early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early preventive/interceptive action and avoid more difficult treatment later.