In the day and age where appearance plays such an important part of our lives, orthodontic treatment has become more popular not just for correcting misaligned teeth or jaws, but for creating that perfect smile that everyone dreams of. Before committing to orthodontic treatment for your child or yourself however, one should ask the most basic questions.
- Did the orthodontist complete their orthodontics residency from a recognized dental school? Aside from completing dental school, an orthodontist must complete a 2-3 post graduate residency in orthodontics. Most orthodontists are members of the American Association of Orthodontists. The American Association of Orthodontists is the largest national organization of Orthodontic Specialists who have met the extra educational requirements and good standing to be a member. Look for their logo which indicates a Orthodontic Specialist.
- What’s the cost? Most orthodontists charge a flat fee depending on the type of orthodontic treatment needed and the severity of the case. Be aware of any extra fees such as replacing retainers, etc. Also, insurance usually does not cover orthodontic treatment, but this varies with different insurance plans.
- How long will treatment take? Will teeth need to be extracted?
Orthodontic treatment with braces can last from 12 months to 2 years or longer. Some orthodontic appliances require the patient to grow to change positions of the jaws so it is not possible to be very accurate in estimating time. Most treatment time with braces is 20 to 24 months and it depends on the arrangement of the misaligned bite. Permanent adult teeth sometimes are extracted to create enough room for a proper alignment of the teeth. In those patients who have severe crowding or jaw sizes that are small or teeth that are too wide, two to four teeth are extracted to create enough room to correct the malocclusion. All the space that is created is usually closed. The teeth that are usually considered for extractions are the first or second premolars. Sometimes primary teeth may need to be extracted before treatment begins.
- What other alternatives are there to standard braces? There are alternatives to standard stainless steel braces like ceramic braces and invisible braces. Ceramic braces have ceramic brackets that are less visible than the metal ones, but they tend to stain easier and they break easier. Invisible braces are the newest trend for moving teeth. Invisible braces are a plastic type of retainers that slip over the teeth and have minor changes in the plastic to put pressure on the teeth to move them.
- How often will I need to visit the orthodontist? This varies from 4-8 weeks during the active treatment. With the invisible braces, there are less appointments because the patient receives a few months set of trays and changes them out about every two weeks. This allows for less time in the orthodontist’s office.