Why see an orthodontist?
If you are concerned with you or your child’s smile or bite, an orthodontist can likely help. Crowded or spaced teeth along with jaw growth problems can lead to a poor bite, or malocclusion.
Malocclusion poses several problems. For one, you may not like the way your teeth look or the way your bite impacts the shape of your face. But beyond that, crooked teeth are prone to excessive wear and more difficult to clean, which can lead to tooth decay and even tooth loss. If jaw issues are severe enough, you can also suffer from pain and problems with eating, breathing, or speaking. Unfortunately, these problems typically only get worse as time goes on.
What do orthodontists do?
Orthodontists are dentists with specialized training who utilize braces or removable appliances to improve tooth alignment and jaw position. An orthodontist can determine what treatment options are best for you following a thorough oral exam and consultation to determine your treatment goals. Receiving a proper diagnosis is critical to the success of orthodontic treatment. Often, an orthodontist will need to coordinate with your general dentist or other specialists for best results.
When should treatment begin?
For adults and teens, treatment can usually begin at any time. For children, it is recommended to have an orthodontic exam by age 7 to evaluate for any problems that may exist and assess the optimal time to begin treatment if needed. Usually treatment won’t begin until most of the permanent teeth are erupted, but some children do exhibit malocclusions that can benefit from early treatment. Timely evaluation can be critical in the success of treatment outcomes in many cases. If you have any concerns, ask an orthodontist, as most offer complimentary exam appointments to answer your questions.
How long will it take?
Treatment time varies among individuals but on average ranges from 12 to 24 months.