About Orthodontics

For most people, achieving a healthy, beautiful smile is the reason for receiving orthodontic care. If you're self-conscious about your smile, correcting your concerns with braces will greatly improve the way you look and feel.

When your treatment is complete, you will have the smile you've always dreamed of and the confidence to show it off! We also want you to feel comfortable and confident throughout your entire orthodontic experience, and our practice is dedicated to making sure that you receive the quality care you deserve.

How Orthodontic Treatment Works

Orthodontic appliances are made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to the proper position.

Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can now choose clear or metal brackets and, in some cases, the color of your appliance. Wires are far less noticeable, and the latest materials are designed to move teeth faster with more comfort. Today, any age is a great age to wear braces!



First Phase Treatment

The goals of first phase treatment are to (1) develop the jaw size to accommodate all the permanent teeth, excluding wisdom teeth, (2) start correcting the bite, (3) prevent those problems from worsening, and  (4) decrease the time in full braces (Second Phase).

Children usually exhibit early signs of crowding and/or jaw problems.  An upper and/or lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough can be recognized at an early age.  If children after age 5 are found to have this jaw discrepancy or crowding, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment.

Because they are growing rapidly, children can benefit enormously from an early phase of orthodontic treatment by utilizing appliances that direct jaw growth.  Early correction may prevent having to remove permanent teeth to correct overcrowding and begin to correct the bite before it gets worse or beyond treatment.  Leaving such a condition untreated until all permanent teeth erupt could result in a jaw discrepancy too severe to achieve an ideal result with braces.

X-rays and photographs are necessary to determine the type of appliances used, treatment time, and cost.

Resting Period

After the First Phase if the remaining permanent teeth have not started to erupt, the patient may go into a resting period.  Retainers may or may not be used.  A successful first phase will have created room for teeth to erupt.  Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced.

Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest for more normal eruption during this resting phase.  Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.

At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not usually in their final positions.  This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment.  This is another stage of treatment, so new x-rays and photographs are taken to determine treatment, time and cost for the second phase.

Second Phase Treatment

Each tooth has an exact location where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth.  When a better bite is established, the teeth will function better.  They will stay healthy and look attractive.  This is the goal for the second phase of treatment.

The second phase is started when all or most of the permanent teeth have erupted and usually requires braces on all teeth.  Retainers are worn after this phase.

Advantages of Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment

By working with young, cooperative patients, Dr. Allen can reduce or eliminate lengthy teenage orthodontics.  Treating teenagers can be unpleasant for the patient and often poses motivational and management problems for doctors and patients.  Early orthodontic treatment requires different methods of diagnosis, treatment planning and execution.

The goals are to begin in early years to guide and develop function, occlusion and aesthetics, rather than force more complex changes in the teenage years.  With the aid of computer modeling, intervention can begin as early as age three.  Extractions, surgery or complicated treatment can often be eliminated through early treatment.

Why baby teeth need to be extracted?

The extraction of baby teeth may be needed for a variety of reasons. 

  • The baby teeth are not falling out on their own or are affecting the eruption of adult teeth.
  • In some cases, extracting baby teeth can help align adult teeth
  • If a baby tooth is decayed or is a risk for a larger infection, it may need to be removed.

Why adult teeth need to be extracted?

The decision to extract adult teeth is one made with great care and consideration.  Most cases can be successfully treated without extracting adult teeth.  However, each case is unique and some cases require the extraction of adult teeth to achieve a healthy, lasting smile.

Here are some of the most common reasons adult may need to be extracted for orthodontics:

  • Crowding.
  • Facial imbalance. Teeth that are too far forward or that contribute to mouth breathing can disrupt the balance in the face.  This may cause a person to leave their mouth open most of the time.  It may also cause strain in some of the muscles in the face.  There is some limited evidence that this strain can lead to muscle-related pain disorders.

Orthognathic Surgery Cases

Many malocclusions result from discrepancies in the relationship of the skeleton (upper and lower jaw bones).  For example, the lower jaw may not grow forward enough, or too much.  Orthodontic treatment alone may not achieve the correct relation of the jaws and therefore, it may be necessary to combine orthodontic treatment with jaw surgery in order to correct the discrepancies.  Combined orthodontic / surgery patients may experience the same problems as other orthodontic patients.  In addition, they may also experience problems that confront any patient having surgery.  These may include:

  •  Infection
  •  Improper healing of the bone
  •  Reaction to the general anesthetic
  •  Loss of feeling around the mouth or to the teeth permanently or temporarily
  • Shifting (relapse) of the jaw bone position during and after healing due to muscle pull

Your oral surgeon will explain the surgery and any possible problems to you. The uncertainty of surgical end results creates problems for the orthodontist and makes it very difficult for him to predict the length of treatment, required fee and quality of the end result of the orthodontic case.  If the surgeon is able to move the jaw to the desired location and the healing occurs with the jaw in the position, then completing the orthodontic treatment is reasonable, predictable and fast.  If, for any reason, the surgeon is unable to put the jaw into the correct relationship to the skull and the teeth in good occlusion, a new situation or problem is created.  Surgery is usually done about halfway through the orthodontic treatment, although each case is different.

Duration of Treatment

Treatment time varies and can last between one and three years, depending on several factors including age, treatment method, and how minor or severe your case is. A big factor in a successful treatment is you! The more involved and diligent you are, the more efficient your treatment will be. For children, receiving interceptive or early treatment can also help provide a quicker treatment time.

Before beginning your orthodontic care, your doctor will discuss all of your options and provide an estimate for how long your full treatment may take. Please contact our practice to schedule an appointment and learn more about orthodontics and the treatments we provide.

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