Orthodontics: Creating a
Years ago, orthodontic treatments were
used only for pre-teens and teens having problems with their
bite (malocclusion). Today, orthodontic treatments like
are not only for pre-teens and teens, but
for adults as well.
Close to 30
percent of all orthodontic patients in the United States are
adults. Despite this growing trend towards adult orthodontics,
it pays to start orthodontic treatment early for maximum
effectiveness. The American Dental Association recommends that
children receive an orthodontic evaluation by age seven.
Restorative and Esthetic Nature of Orthodontics
Since malocclusion may interfere with
eating and speaking, it is usually considered a restorative
issue. Although, because a malocclusion may prevent the
development of a beautiful, well-aligned smile or facial jaw
lines, it may also be classified as an esthetic issue and
No matter what
your age, orthodontics can protect your bite (occlusion),
maximize your teeth's effectiveness in performing their
functions and create a well-aligned smile. Today's orthodontics
involves repositioning of the teeth and underlying roots,
providing better support for the crown of the tooth. Orthodontic
treatment is now associated with the benefits of greater
esthetic appeal, increased comfort and reduced treatment time.
Orthodontic treatment can also rejuvenate
your facial appearance by reshaping the jaw, neck and lips,
especially when combined with maxillofacial surgical procedures.
In addition, well-aligned teeth make
oral hygiene easier to maintain.
Orthodontists are the dentists who focus
on the practice of orthodontics. An orthodontist is typically
required to complete an additional two to three years of
post-dental school education before becoming a certified
practitioner of orthodontics.
If you are a candidate for orthodontics,
you will likely be referred by your general dentist to an
orthodontist for evaluation of your bite. During your first
orthodontic visit, your orthodontist may use several methods to
develop an individualized treatment plan, including:
Oral, facial and functional evaluation (examination).
Intraoral and facial photographs.
Panoramic and cephalometric X-rays.
Impressions for models of the teeth and bite.
orthodontist reviews your dental records, performs a clinical
assessment, takes X-rays of your mouth and head and makes models
of the teeth by creating an accurate impression of them. The
results of this evaluation are studied in order to formulate the
best orthodontic treatment plan.
during the second visit, your orthodontist reviews the treatment
plan and estimates the number of months for the active phase of
treatment. The standard treatment phase is two years. Following
treatment, you may be required to wear a retainer for a period
of orthodontic treatment varies based on your age, the
extensiveness of the procedure (some people require more work
than others) and how closely you follow your treatment plan. For
example, younger patients may respond more quickly to treatment
than older patients because the bones supporting young teeth are
more pliable than those supporting older teeth. However, adults
tend to follow treatment instructions more consistently than
In some cases
the treatment time is longer. For example, oral surgery and
recovery may be needed before or during orthodontic treatment.
Authored By: Lesley Ranft
Reviewed By: Gary Hirsh, DD, MS