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Ask Dr. Rider

What is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists are qualified dentists, who after graduating from dental school, go on to additional full-time university-based education in an accredited orthodontic residency program supervised by orthodontists. That training lasts at least two academic years. By learning about tooth movement (orthodontics) and guidance of facial development (dentofacial orthopedics), orthodontists are the uniquely educated experts in dentistry to straighten teeth and align jaws.

Orthodontists diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists limit their practices to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. That means that orthodontic treatment is what they do, and that is all they do. Orthodontists treat a wide variety of malocclusions (misaligned aligned teeth and/or jaws). They regularly treat young children, teens and adults.

Only orthodontists may be members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).

How do I know if I need braces?

There are numerous signs that braces may be needed. Some of the more common signs that orthodontics may be needed are listed below:

  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower, or are “bucked.”
  • 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 (under bite).
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite).
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth.
  • The centers of the upper and lower teeth do not line up.
  • Finger or thumb sucking habit which continues after 6 or 7 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.

What age is appropriate for treatment?

Because orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth or teeth while a child still has primary, or “baby,” teeth present, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children get a check-up with an orthodontist no later than age seven. Although only a few orthodontic problems need to be corrected at that age, an early exam allows the orthodontist to offer advice and guidance as to when the appropriate age to start treatment would be. Certain problems are best addressed at a specific developmental stage. Dr. Rider feels it is important to treat at the appropriate time so as to minimize the length of treatment.

What is early treatment?

Early treatment or interceptive orthodontics involves treatment in the mixed dentition (when baby teeth and a few permanent teeth are present). It usually involves simpler types of treatment and not full braces as is needed when all the permanent teeth erupt. Some of the benefits of early treatment are:

  • Increased self confidence
  • Improved speech, swallowing and lip closure
  • Preservation of protruding front teeth by shifting them into a more favorable position where they are less likely to be chipped
  • Improving jaw alignment
  • Reduction of need to extract permanent teeth
  • Simplifying later orthodontic treatment
  • Healthier teeth and gums

Can adults get braces?

Yes. The most important aspect of treating adults is to make sure there is not active gum disease prior to starting orthodontic treatment. Retaining or holding the result is also very important and long term retention is suggested. Adults can receive the same quality result as children.

Can I still play musical instruments?

Although braces do affect some musical instruments, the effect is only for a short period of time. Usually you will be back to your level of play in two weeks. In most cases, it would be advised to have your braces put on far in advance of any recital or competition.

Can I play sports?

If the sport you are participating in normally uses a mouth guard, we recommend you continue to use one. If you do not normally wear a mouth guard with a particular sport, then it is not necessary to start wearing one once you have gotten braces. Your teeth are actually very protected by the braces if you should have a contact injury.

How long do I have to wear braces?

The average orthodontic treatment time is 20 to 24 months. Of course, some treatments will be slightly longer, or shorter, depending on the individual. Dr. Rider tries to keep treatment time as short as possible.

What foods do I have to avoid with braces?

You should not eat hard and sticky foods or candy. They will damage the braces and cause extended treatment time.

If I break a bracket what should I do?

In most cases broken braces should be fixed as soon as possible. If you or your child are in pain please call our office immediately. If there is no discomfort, waiting for normal business hours is appropriate.

Please call ahead of your next scheduled appointment if something is loose or broken. This ensures we can allow time to do all the necessary work and save you an extra trip.

Do I need a retainer?

Retainers are an extremely important part of orthodontics. Retainers should be worn 20 to 24 hours a day immediately after braces are removed. The hours will be reduced after a period of time as instructed by Dr. Rider. There are usually several retainer options including clear retainers, fixed retainers and standard acrylic retainers. Our goal is to make you happy, as retainers are so important. Long term retainer wear is usually suggested to prevent future tooth movement.

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