- First of All, What is Orthodontic Treatment, and What Does it Involve?
Orthodontic treatment specializes in correcting both cosmetic and functional issues with the alignment of your teeth, jaw, and general facial structure as it pertains to your individual dental needs. Dental irregularities that require orthodontic attention and treatment can be caused by environmental factors, genetics, accidents, improper positioning of the jaw, and more.
An all-encompassing term for all of these irregularities is dental malocclusion, which directly refers to issues with your teeth. Dental malocclusion accounts for common orthodontic concerns such as impacted teeth, crowding, generally crooked teeth, and large gaps and spacing. These are all problems that orthodontic treatment has seen extreme success in treating over the years.
Orthodontic treatment can involve a few different approaches. Your orthodontist will assess your teeth and jaw, take detailed x-rays to ensure no detail is missed, and discuss your needs and expectations with you. Equipped with all of this information, they’ll recommend one of a few treatment options that you can pursue. These options can include:
- Clear braces
- Traditional metal braces
- Invisalign clear aligners
These are the most commonly used treatment methods for patients facing the dental issues mentioned above. Depending on your timeframe, level of commitment, and financial limitations, you and your orthodontist will work together to choose the best course of action for achieving your dream smile.
- Can I Just Go Through My Regular Dentist for Orthodontic Treatment?
There are a few main, important differences between general dentists and orthodontists. Orthodontists specialize in dentofacial studies, and have spent necessary years in residential programs following their basic training. These residential programs provided them with the right tools and education to specialize in orthodontic treatment, properly diagnose dental irregularities, correctly move teeth, guide facial development, as well as monitor and ensure healthy jaw growth.
This is a long way of saying no, you should always seek out a licensed orthodontist when interested in treatment. Though there are some general dentists that opt to continue their education and expand into orthodontics, when the time has come for you to look into orthodontic treatment, it’s best to go with an expert in the area.
General dentists have more to do with the general oral hygiene of their patients. They help patients treat issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, and ensure that their teeth are deep cleaned every six months to avoid these issues altogether. They also perform root canals and whiten teeth, among other minor procedures when necessary.
- Why Should I Get Orthodontic Treatment?
In most cases, there are two main reasons why people decide to pursue orthodontic treatment; functionality, and aesthetic.
When functionality comes into play, orthodontic treatment may become more of a need than a want. If you are unable to properly bite down, if your teeth are crooked enough to put you at a higher risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease, and if these factors and more are causing headaches and other discomfort, it may be time to make adjustments to your bite.
An orthodontist will assess these issues for you and make recommendations based on how minor or severe the problem is. In this case, orthodontic treatment can improve your overall quality of life, and give you a straight smile in the process.
Aesthetic reasons are less urgent, but still entirely valid. Some people have some problem teeth they’d like to straighten out, or have always liked their smile, but now want to love it. Your orthodontist will work with you to achieve your ultimate smile goals, and leave you with an end result that you can’t wait to show off!
- How Do I Start?
All orthodontic treatment will begin with an initial consultation, which is typically offered to patients at a low cost, or for free. At this consultation, the orthodontist will discuss your concerns and goals with you, and perform a thorough exam.
This exam consists of detailed x-rays and photographs that will convey to the orthodontist exactly where your problem points are, and help them to provide you with an official diagnosis. Once you’ve been given your diagnosis, your orthodontist will explain what they recommend for treatment, how the process will work, and will move on to discuss other details such as financial limitations, and how willing you are to comply with all aspects of treatment.
If you’re prepared to take on the level of financial and personal responsibility that orthodontic treatment requires, you may be able to begin creating your treatment plan with your orthodontist on the same day of your consultation. They’ll also be able to answer any questions you may have, and make sure you have a full understanding of what is expected from you before you begin. Once you’ve gone through all the necessary steps of pursuing a better smile, it’s time to get excited!
- Do I Still Need to See My Dentist During Treatment?
Yes - seeing your dentist regularly is so important, and will remain important throughout the course of your treatment! While your orthodontic treatment is working to fix your bite and straightening your teeth, it is not keeping your teeth clean, healthy, and free of plaque. Only frequent trips to your dentist can get this job done.
Remember to see your general dentist every six months, even during your treatment, for regular examinations and cleanings in order to keep your oral health in check. Plaque can be a challenge to remove when wearing braces, and your dentist will have the right tools to do so properly and successfully.
- Is it Expensive?
The price for orthodontic care, when viewed as a lump sum, can look a little intimidating. While it certainly won’t be inexpensive, there are so many options in place to make it affordable for every patient.
Orthodontic care is made affordable through payment plans that include monthly installments that slowly chip away at your total. You have to remember that orthodontic treatment is an investment, and one that will pay off in the future. By fixing your teeth now, you may be preventing future dental irregularities, or your current bite worsening and causing problems. It will likely be some of the best money you’ve ever spent!
- Can I Get Orthodontic Treatment at any Age?
Yes! Orthodontic treatment doesn’t exclude anyone, and many people of all ages can easily qualify for it. Both braces and clear aligners are quite versatile, and are capable of treating minor to severe dental irregularities for all ages. You’re never too old to change your smile for the better!
In saying that, orthodontic treatment is always easier at a young age. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that once a child that may need treatment reaches the age of seven, they should visit an orthodontist for a consultation and advice. The earlier you can get it out of the way, the better!