Q: What is an orthodontist?
A: An orthodontist is a specialist in the field of dentistry. In addition to fulfilling all of the educational requirements to practice dentistry, an orthodontist must complete 2-3 years of training in an accredited residency program for orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. Orthodontists straighten teeth (with braces and other appliances), correct unhealthy bites, and also provide some forms of orthopedic treatment, among other things. The orthodontic specialty was the first recognized specialty in all of dentistry and has existed for over 100 years.
Q: What is a BOARD CERTIFIED orthodontist?
Approximately 1 in 3 orthodontists are board certified.
A board certified orthodontist is an orthodontist who has voluntarily gone through hundreds of additional hours of preparation to demonstrate their judgment, skills and knowledge required for providing the highest level of patient care. They have achieved board certification through the American Board of Orthodontics, the only orthodontic specialty board recognized by the American Dental Association and in affiliation with the American Association of Orthodontists.
Achieving board certification is the last step in a long and intensive educational experience to ultimately provide excellent patient care. A board certified orthodontist is committed to the highest level of patient care including a comprehensive treatment approach to ensure quality work. Board certified orthodontists must renew their certification every 10 years to demonstrate their continuous commitment to excellence.
Q: What is new in the field of orthodontics?
A: There are many technical innovations in the field of orthodontics that have made it possible for orthodontists to straighten teeth more efficiently while also offering a variety of treatment options. For example, advanced computer imaging technology is a driving force behind the Invisalign® appliance. Patients who are candidates for treatment with the Invisalign® system can straighten their teeth by wearing a series of clear, nearly invisible aligners that can be removed by the patient to eat and brush.
Q: Am I too old for orthodontic treatment?
A: Almost anyone in good oral health can be an acceptable candidate for orthodontic treatment. It is my opinion that more than ever, adults are seeking the care of orthodontists to improve their smiles. I estimate that well over 30% of the patients whom I treat are between the ages of 21 and 50, and I have treated many patients who were in their 60′, 70’s and 80’s. In talking with my adult patients, I find that many have wanted straighter teeth since childhood. There seems to be an increased awareness that braces can provide great benefits to both children and adults. These benefits are not only cosmetic, but can also have a significant impact on the overall health of a person’s teeth and gums while improving their self esteem.
Q: What is the first step for someone who wants straighter teeth?
A: Anyone who wants to straighten his or her teeth should schedule an examination with a specialist in orthodontics. At the examination, the orthodontist can identify the patient’s specific needs, and educate them about which forms of treatment are most appropriate. After the exam, arrangements can be made for a diagnostic records appointment. Diagnostic records include special radiographs (x-rays), photographs, impressions (molds of the teeth) etc. After the doctor reviews the diagnostic information, a detailed plan for treatment can be made, and active treatment can begin.
Q: After my braces are placed, how often will I have to return for adjustments?
A: The frequency of required visits will vary throughout the different stages of treatment. Generally speaking, most visits will occur at 4 to 6 week intervals.
Q: At what age should my child be seen by an orthodontist?
A: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children be examined by an orthodontist by age 7. Early examination provides an opportunity to identify unusual developmental patterns or tooth abnormalities that may require interceptive orthodontic treatment. While many children do not require treatment at this age, it can be beneficial to have baseline information that is gathered at the examination. Also, if it is apparent that treatment will be indicated in the future, parents can be advised on when the optimal time for treatment might be.
Q: Do braces hurt and can they change the way I speak?
A: Technological advancements have made it possible to straighten teeth without impairing the patient’s lifestyle. While orthodontic appliances may sometimes lead to some mild discomfort, any discomfort is usually temporary and easily managed with readily available analgesics such as ibuprofen. Some patients have reported that speaking with braces requires adjustment but it has been my experience that most people who notice any change in speech adjust very well within a few days after placement of braces. Overall, braces are a pleasant experience because the benefits greatly outweigh any mild inconveniences.
Q: How much will treatment cost?
A: At my office, treatment fees vary according to the severity of the malocclusion (imperfect bite) and the estimated length of time required for correction. Some individuals with very limited treatment needs can be treated for a few hundred dollars, while others with extensive treatment needs can expect a fee of several thousand dollars. Estimates of treatment fees are given at the initial examination. There is no fee for the initial examination (except individuals whose examination is specific for a TMJ disorder) and there is no obligation to pursue any recommended treatment. Interest-free payment plans are offered for most treatments.