Frequently Asked Questions
Learn About Orthodontics
Answers for Common Questions
A beautiful straight smile has tons of benefits, so here are a few essential answers to common questions about orthodontics.
There are many qualified orthodontists in our area to choose from, but there are many differences you should look into before choosing your orthodontist.
These are the top five things you should know and consider before starting treatment.
1. Does the orthodontist use modern technology and the latest techniques?
Orthodontics is much more than improving smiles and straightening teeth. Each patient is a unique case that requires an individual treatment plan.
Today’s orthodontics have changed with technology that’s always improving. Ask the orthodontist about types of technology they employ and why it can benefit you.
2. Is the team friendly and positive?
When you walk into an orthodontists office for the first time, talk with the staff and ask questions about the practice. Was the office comfortable and modern? Do you feel welcome and at ease?
Does the office staff seem happy, warm, approachable and friendly? The attitude of the orthodontist’s staff can offer real insight as to what kind of experience you might expect as a patient.
3. Is the office atmosphere modern and comfortable?
Look around the office when you visit an orthodontist. Is it clean, professional, modern and does it offer amenities or comforts you might expect to find only at home? Is there fresh coffee and bottled water available? Snacks? TV? Video games for the kids?
Remember, you may be visiting this office for a couple of years, make sure it exceeds your expectations and is a place that offers you and your family an accommodating experience.
4. Are you comfortable with the orthodontist?
How did you feel when you first met the orthodontist? Was he/she confident and compassionate? Were they experienced and knowledgeable? Did you feel sales pressure? Do you trust them?
5. Does the orthodontist have great online reviews?
Today people will quickly share their experiences online via numerous social media networks. Make sure you spend a little time on the internet to find out more about an orthodontist before committing to a treatment plan.
Read patient reviews and patient testimonials that can only be found outside of their own website. They can tell you a lot about what kind of experience and/or results you can expect.
Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, and excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue.
Without treatment, many problems become worse and can require additional dental care later in life.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age seven. By this age, most children have several permanent teeth that have erupted, letting us evaluate their orthodontic needs.
By this age, Dr. Frey can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. That’s important, because some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they’re found early. Most orthodontic patients begin active braces treatment between ages 9 and 14.
What is the advantage of two-phase orthodontic treatment?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment is often recommended for children between the ages of 7 and 10 when there is some disruption in normal tooth eruption or jaw development. The first phase of treatment is considered “early” or “interventional” treatment and is designed to correct the disturbance and re-position the teeth for normal growth and development.
This phase of treatment often corrects narrowness of the upper jaw, transitional crowding of the front teeth, functional shifting of the jaw, and habits like tongue thrusting or finger sucking. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an orthodontic screening around age 7. However, early (phase I) treatment is only recommended in about 5-10% of the patients we evaluate at this age. In most cases, growth and development are seen as normal and no intervention is required.
First Phase Treatment: Your foundation for a lifetime of beautiful teeth
The goal of early treatment is to develop the jaw size in order to accommodate all the permanent teeth and to relate the upper and lower jaws to each other. Ideal facial esthetics and orthodontic positioning of the teeth depending on the balance between the upper and lower jaws.
Planning now can save your smile later
Some (phase I) treatments are aimed at reducing the discrepancy between the jaw positions and allow improved outcomes during comprehensive treatment (phase II). An upper and lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough can be recognized at an early age.
If children after age 6 are found to have a jaw size discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. This early correction may prevent later removal of permanent teeth to correct overcrowding and/or surgical procedures to align the upper and lower jaws.
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.
After the first phase of treatment, a normal developmental relationship has been achieved and the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt. Retainers are sometimes recommended to preserve the space and position achieved during the first phase of treatment.
It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement while final eruption of teeth occurs. Natural eruption with sufficient space allows the best positioning of the teeth to take place. A successful first phase will have improved the appearance of the teeth and created an unobstructed path for all of the teeth to erupt into the mouth.
Monitoring Your Progress
At the end of most interventional treatments, only some of the permanent teeth have grown into place. In other words, all of the teeth are not in their final positions. It's necessary to wait until all of the permanent teeth have erupted into position before the bite and final alignment of the teeth can be evaluated.
Occasionally, primary teeth (baby teeth) do not fall out on their own. When this occurs, permanent teeth may become impacted or severely displaced. Both increase the time, difficulty, and expense of orthodontic treatment.
This means you need periodic appointments to evaluate the growth and eruption of the teeth during this resting phase are in your child's best interest. Occasionally, we may need to remove “over-retained” primary (baby) teeth to allow normal growth and eruption.
Second Phase Treatment
Final alignment of the teeth and bite correction are the goals of the second phase of treatment. We strive to create harmony between the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. Bite correction is important for several reasons:
1) Ideal positioning of the bite helps prevent accelerated tooth wear from functional interferences
2) Ideal positioning of the bite reinforces the final positioning of the teeth created during orthodontic treatment.
What does this mean to you? Your teeth are more likely to remain healthy and straight throughout your life if you properly correct the way the teeth fit together and function.
Movement & Retention
It takes a lot of work and effort on everyone’s behalf to achieve a beautiful smile. A great smile is valuable and should be enjoyed for a lifetime. Nobody wants to see their teeth move or shift after treatment.
However, throughout our lives, our teeth are programmed to achieve two goals:
1) Teeth continue to erupt toward the opposing dental arch until they hit something.
2) Teeth move toward a position where forces are equally distributed among the teeth.
As we age and our teeth and jaw joints wear, our teeth move to adjust to those changes. As a result, teeth can move at any age. In an ideal bite, both of those goals are met by all of the teeth, and so the teeth are happy where they live and are less likely to move over time.
What does this mean for you? It's important to correct your bite and wear your retainer.
The more ideal your bite correction, the less likely your teeth are to shift and move over time. Uncorrected bites may require daily use of retainers indefinitely to prevent tooth movement from occurring after treatment. People with unstable bites or a high likelihood of relapse are good candidates for fixed bonded retainers.
Bonded retainers are always in place and serve as insurance against unwanted tooth movement. There are some contraindications for bonded retainers, however, with proper care and maintenance, a bonded retainer can provide many years of worry-free retention.
Thanks to today’s smaller, less visible and more comfortable orthodontic appliances, including metal braces, ceramic braces, and Invisalign, adults find treatment appealing.
The cost of orthodontic treatment depends on many factors, including the severity of the problem, how complex the problem is, and how long treatment lasts.
Dr. Frey will be glad to discuss the cost of treatment and your financing options with you before treatment begins.
The good news is patients are finding that braces are more affordable today than ever. Our staff also works with insurance companies and offers payment plans that meet your family’s budget.