How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Preventing Decay While Wearing Braces
What questions should I ask during my orthodontic consultation?

Orthodontic treatments are used to correct malocclusion, a condition more commonly known as a bad bite. The length of treatment time varies depending on the severity of the bite problem.

What is a “bad bite”?
A bad bite occurs when spacing or alignment problems are present. This often includes teeth that are protruding, crowded, or crooked. Sometimes teeth appear straight, but have an uneven bite because the upper and lower jaws do not align properly. Teeth that are irregularly spaced – either too far apart or too close together – can also cause bite problems.

Frequent causes of bite problems:

Heredity
Thumb-sucking
Premature tooth loss
Accidents

Benefits of orthodontic treatment:

Appearance –
Correcting a bad bite often creates a more attractive smile, which frequently raises the patient’s self esteem.

Preventing Decay –
It also results in a healthier mouth. It is much more difficult to thoroughly clean teeth that are crooked, protruding, overlapped, or crowed. This may allow plaque to build up, which can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even tooth loss. Orthodontic treatment corrects these conditions, so cleaning can be more efficient.

Avoiding Alignment Issues –
An uneven bite can interfere with the motions of chewing and speaking. This can cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel, which may require pricey cosmetic restorative treatments, such as crowns or veneers, to correct. It can also lead to problems with the jaws. Orthodontic treatment lessens the likelihood of those issues, as well.

Types of orthodontic treatment:

– Braces: Metal or ceramic brackets are bonded to the front of teeth. Wires and elastics are attached to the brackets to straighten teeth.

– Invisalign®: Advanced 3D computer images of the patients’ mouth are used to create clear, custom aligners that slowly move teeth. They are nearly invisible and are more comfortable than traditional braces. They are also removable, which makes it possible to continue with normal brushing and flossing.

– Retainers: A retainer is a removable piece worn inside the mouth that uses pressure to force teeth to move into proper alignment. They are used after braces are removed.

Length of orthodontic treatment:
Treatment typically ranges from 12 – 36 months. Factors include the age, cooperation level, and growth occurrence of the patient. The complexity of the case also impacts the treatment time.

Preventing Decay While Wearing Braces

Having braces can present some new challenges when it comes to oral hygiene. Preventing tooth decay can be a big challenge simply because of the tendency for braces to trap food under the wires and between the teeth and the brackets. Here are a few tips to keep your teeth healthy while wearing your braces:

1. Eat Braces-Safe Foods
Keeping your teeth from decay starts with a proper diet. Foods that are high in sugar or starch can cause more plaque which is difficult to remove during your brushing. There are certain foods that should be avoided while wearing your braces. First, sticky foods like caramel or gum can get stuck in your braces and be difficult to remove during brushing. Next, hard foods such as nuts and candy could bend wires or even break a bracket. Foods that are firm or hard to bite into like apples, carrots, or corn on the cob should be avoided. As much as we like to snack on them, those crunchy treats can harm your braces. Things like chips, ice, popcorn can also bend or break your braces.
On the other hand, bananas, mangoes, milk, water, poultry, and pasta all tend to be low in enamel-busting acids.

2. Proper Brushing
You want to place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums in order to clean the whole tooth, and brush gently in the area between the wiring and the teeth. Use a softer toothbrush with fluoride paste for best results. Rinsing every day will help, too. Rinsing is important regardless, but especially important when you have braces as you need to disinfect the entire mouth, including those spots under the braces where your brush can’t always reach.

3. Ask About Special Cleaning Tools
There are also special brushes, or other tools, to get under and clean your braces. You can also find many of these items at your local pharmacy.

4. Regular Teeth Cleaning
It’s important to keep your routine appointments with your dentist and dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning twice a year or as directed. The exact frequency of these visits will be up to your dentist as some types of braces are more demanding of a regular cleaning than others.
As long as you practice good oral hygiene and follow these basic tips, you should have no problem keeping your teeth from decaying while you wear braces.

When Should I Schedule an Orthodontic Evaluation for My Child?

Most parents know that routine dental care should begin during the toddler years. But many are unaware of when orthodontic treatment should begin. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, the ideal age for an orthodontic evaluation is age seven or before, when children usually have a mixture of adult and baby teeth. Although treatment usually will not begin until one to five years after the initial evaluation, the evaluation is helpful in determining whether your child has any problems with emerging teeth — regardless of how subtle.

Children have more formidable bone structures than teenagers and adults, and as they grow, orthodontic appliances can help guide jaw growth, which may prevent the development of an overbite or under-bite, as well as tooth crowding due to space limitations. Orthodontic treatment is also helpful for guiding newly emerging adult teeth into a proper alignment, which is not only aesthetically advantageous, but also helpful in preventing tooth decay.

Why Early Evaluation?
Taking your child to the orthodontist for an evaluation means that you may be able to identify problems with the jaw and teeth early when they are still easy to treat. Early treatment often equals a more simplified treatment plan, which is beneficial to both children and their parents. Often, earlier treatment can cost less to correct a problem than delayed treatment.
If a problem is detected, our team will discuss corrective options and provide a recommended treatment schedule. Depending on your child’s orthodontic needs, he or she may benefit from:

• Palatial Spacers – Helpful for correcting a crossbite by expanding the width of the upper jaw.
• Fixed Functional Appliance – Helpful for correcting severe upper tooth protrusion.
• Headgear – Helpful for guiding healthy growth of new teeth and the jaw. Headgear is removable, but usually must be worn at least 10 hours per day.

If your child is approaching the age of seven, or has already surpassed his or her seventh birthday, it is time to schedule an appointment for an initial examination

What are the Early Signs of Orthodontic Problems?

Visibly crooked teeth are not the only reason to take your child into the orthodontist. There are some subtle things to look for as well, which may indicate the onset of more serious orthodontic issues. Many orthodontic issues are much easier to address if treated and corrected during a child’s development.

Waiting until facial development is complete or until the permanent teeth have come in can make correction of many orthodontic issues more challenging. Both children and adults can benefit from orthodontic care at any age, but addressing issues early is almost always the ideal choice.

If you’re wondering if you or your child might have need for orthodontic care, there are some things you can be on the lookout for. Here are some of the most common warning signs of orthodontic issues:

• Difficulty when chewing or biting
• Chronic mouth-breathing
• Sucking the thumb, the fingers, or any other oral sucking habits that continue after the age of six
• Overbite – when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth by more than 5mm
• Top front teeth that cover more than 25% of the bottom teeth while biting
• Underbite – when the top front teeth go behind the bottom row of teeth when biting
• Crowded, crooked, overlapped, misshapen, misplaced teeth or extra teeth of any size
• Crossbite – when one or more teeth tilt toward the cheek or toward the tongue causing excessive stress on the jawbone
• The center of the top and bottom teeth don’t line up
• Uneven teeth-wearing
• Baby teeth coming out too early for the child’s age
• Pain in jaws
• Clicking in the jaw joints
• The jaw shifts off-center while chewing or biting
• A jaw that protrudes, or recedes, too much
• Difficulty speaking or enunciating clearly
• Chronic biting of the inner cheek or roof of the mouth
• Asymmetrical facial structure
• Grinding or clenching of the teeth

If you notice that either you or your child has one or more of these conditions, they could be signs that there is a risk of orthodontic or health problems. The sooner these problems are addressed, the wider and brighter you will be able to smile going forward!

Understanding Orthodontic Appliances for Jaw Growth Correction

Children and adults who visit orthodontists often feel confused and a little frightened because of the various metal tools and appliances. Knowing the applications of such devices can help ease a patient’s mind when undergoing treatment. Dentofacial orthopedics is a specialty that uses appliances to adjust the jaws for ideal compatibility. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends these treatment options for children between the ages of eight and twelve to make adjustments during developmental stages. Adults also experience dental changes throughout their lives and can benefit from dentofacial orthopedic appliances. Some common problems with jaw alignment or development include:

Underdeveloped lower jaw
Protrusion of upper teeth
Malocclusions
Crossbite
Overbite

Orthodontic Appliances for Correcting Jaw Growth Problems

Jaw-correcting appliances are either fixed or removable. Fixed appliances are applied to the teeth with the use of cement. Removable appliances require dedication from the patient to wear the devices as instructed. You will receive better results by wearing your orthodontic gear and following the treatment plan designed for your specific needs. Understanding the potential results will help you stay motivated, and parents can help their children to follow recommendations. Some appliances can cause slight discomfort during adjustment periods, but wearing them regularly will help shorten the time frame for treatment. Here are some of the most common appliances for correcting jaw growth problems.

Headgear: This appliance is removable and consists of a stainless steel facebow and fabric safety strap. The orthodontist fixes metal bands to your upper-back teeth where you attach the facebow. The safety strap wraps around your head and secures the facebow. Headgear affects jaw growth and tooth movement by applying pressure to the upper teeth and maxilla.

Herbst® Appliance: Typically permanent, these appliances attach to the upper and lower molars to hold the mandible forward. The purpose of this type of treatment is to eliminate an overbite. With expansion screws, the Herbst can also widen the jaw.

Mara: This appliance pushes the mandible forward to reduce overbite. Crowns are placed on your top and bottom molars, and a metal elbow connects the crowns.

Bite Corrector: This appliance is combined with braces to correct different malocclusions. Metal bars with enclosed springs apply pressure to both the upper and lower jaws. The placement of such bars will depend on the bite type.

Bionator: This removable appliance guides the lower jaw so that it grows in proportion to the upper jaw. Children can develop aligned bites by wearing bionators.

Palatal Expansion: There are two options for placement, fixed, or removable palatal expansions, to fix crossbites. The appliance attaches to the upper-back teeth and widens the jaw.

You will get used to the feeling of most appliances within one month, and the adjustment period is easier if you follow the treatment plan designed by our staff. The average time it takes to correct jaw problems is 12 months, so you can expect to see a more beautiful smile in about one year.

Burning Invisalign questions, with Dr. Felix

Are you wondering what Invisalign treatment is really like, and what effect it will have on your day-to-day activities? Will it slur your speech? Will people know you’re in treatment? You’re not alone in your concerns!

Dr. Gen Felix, and our team thought we’d share this list of questions and answers for anyone pondering Invisalign treatment at our office.

How exactly does Invisalign work?
Using 3-D computer imaging technology, Invisalign creates a series of custom-made, clear aligners exclusively for your teeth, based on the treatment plan that we specify for you. Each aligner moves teeth incrementally and is worn for about two weeks, then replaced by the next in the series until the final position is achieved.

Will I experience pain during treatment?
Most people experience temporary discomfort for a few days after a new aligner is placed. This feeling of pressure is normal and is a sign that Invisalign is working by sequentially moving your teeth to their final destination.

Can other people see that I’m in treatment?
One of the benefits of Invisalign is that the aligners are clear. You can straighten your teeth without anyone knowing.

Can I smoke during treatment?
We discourage smoking while wearing the aligners as they may become discolored.

Are there any foods I shouldn’t eat while in treatment?
You can eat normally during the entire course of treatment. One of the advantages of Invisalign is that the aligners are removable. Simply take the aligners out before each meal, brush when you’re finished eating, then reinsert the aligners afterward.

What about chewing gum?
We recommend removing your aligners for all meals and snacks, as gum and other chewy substances can stick to the aligners.

How often must I wear my aligners?
Aligners should be worn all day, except when eating, brushing, and flossing.

Will my speech be affected by the aligners?
As with any orthodontic treatment, aligners may temporarily affect your speech. If this does happen, your tongue will adjust within a day or two and your speech should return to normal.

How do I clean my aligners?
The best way to clean your aligners is by brushing and rinsing them in lukewarm water.

How often must I visit the office during treatment?
For most patients, visits every 4-6 weeks are frequent enough for us to determine that your treatment is progressing properly. We will provide you with a specific schedule that supports your individual treatment plan.

If you have additional questions about the Invisalign treatment, please give our office a call, or visit us on Facebook!

Top ten tips for keeping your BRACES sparklin’ clean!

Keeping your teeth clean is more important than ever when you have braces! Food bits have more spots than usual to hide in your mouth, so you must be diligent in order to avoid bad breath, swollen gums, discolored teeth and cavities. If you remove plaque regularly during treatment, you’ll experience better results and shorter treatment time. Keep plaque at bay with these top ten tips:

1. One tooth at a time. When you brush, take time with each individual tooth – at least 10 seconds each – and pay careful attention to the spots where your teeth touch your braces.

2. It’s all about the angles. Brush the tops of your teeth and braces with your brush angled down toward where they meet. Brush the bottoms of your teeth and braces with your brush angled up.

3. The tooth, the whole tooth, nothing but the tooth. While the front surface of your teeth may seem like the most logical to clean, it’s equally important to clean the inner surface of your teeth (tongue side) as well as the chewing surface. And be sure to clean along your gum line – a key spot for plaque buildup.

4. Step 1: eat, step 2: clean. While you’re in treatment, it’s important to brush after every meal. Bits of food can easily get caught between braces and teeth, and these food bits interact with bacteria in your mouth to cause decay. The longer food is in contact with your teeth, the greater opportunity for plaque to form. If you are eating somewhere that you can’t brush, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water.

5. Like a Boy Scout, always be prepared. The easiest way to be sure you can brush after every meal is to get in the habit of taking a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss with you wherever you go. Designate a special container just for your teeth-cleaning tools and keep it in your purse, backpack, or laptop case.

6. Remove the moving parts. If you have elastic bands or headgear, remove these parts before you brush or floss.

7. Fluoride is your friend. Fluoride helps prevent cavities. Be sure to brush with fluoride toothpaste, and rinse with fluoride mouthwash.

8. Pointy brushes reach tiny places. Interproximal brushes (sometimes called proxa brushes or interdental brushes) are cone-shaped and come in very handy for reaching spots around your braces that standard brushes can’t.

9. Find the floss for you. Regular floss works for some patients, but others find it easier to work with a floss threader, which helps you get the floss into tight places. Other patients like an all-in-one product called Superfloss, which comes with a stiff end for easy threading, a spongy section for cleaning wide spaces, and regular floss for narrow spaces.

10. Make time for the pros. It’s your job to take care of the everyday cleaning. But make sure to visit your dentist regularly while in treatment, to get the deep, thorough cleaning that only a professional can provide. If you need help finding the right Dentist for you, feel free to contact our office – we’d love to help!

We hope this helps, and remember to give our team a call if you ever have any questions!

Five ways you can avoid plaque!

Our team knows nobody likes getting plaque on their teeth. Here are five other ways you can avoid that dreaded enemy of the teeth during orthodontic treatment, courtesy of WebMD.

Let’s start with brushing regularly.. Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste is vital to a healthy mouth. Make sure you softly brush all the surfaces of your teeth.

Next on the list is flossing daily: a simple daily flossing between teeth clears away plaque before it can cause damage and can also clean plaque at the gum line. Plaque is known to reach the spaces between teeth.

Also, evading a trip to the dentist is probably not a great idea. Let’s say you brush and floss daily. You’re still at risk for plaque. With time, the plaque hardens and turns into tartar. Consider visiting your general dentist at least twice a year or as recommended by your dentist, and you have a lower chance of getting cavities or losing your teeth while wearing braces.

You’ll also want to stop avoiding those fruits and veggies. Believe it or not, there are foods out there that play a key role in keeping plaque off our teeth. They include apples, carrots, cucumbers and other raw fruits and vegetables. You can still eat these types of fruits and veggies if you have braces, but be sure to cut them up into bite sized pieces to avoid breaking off brackets.

Finally, before you pick up that candy bar, remember to not give in to your sweet tooth. Consuming sugary drinks or eating candy or other junk food allows sugar to stick to our teeth. The bacteria, then, becomes plaque, which turns into acid and damages our teeth. Avoiding these five bad habits keeps your plaque in check and your mouth as healthy as can be during your orthodontic treatment. If you have any questions, give us a call or ask us on Facebook!

Independence Day Facts, Tips, and Party Invitations!

It’s hard to believe, but July is already here and half of 2012 has already passed! As July 4th approaches, our team thought it would be fun to share some facts and safety tips for celebrating our country’s independence day.

Fun Facts:
• Betsy Ross, according to legend, sewed the first American flag in May or June 1776, as commissioned by the Congressional Committee.
• The major objection to being ruled by Britain was taxation without representation. The colonists had no say in the decisions of English Parliament.
• The word ‘patriotism’ comes from the Latin patria, which means ‘homeland’ or ‘fatherland.’
• The first public Fourth of July event at the White House occurred in 1804.
• And what could be more fitting than spending the day in a place called “America”? There are five such places in the country, with the most populous being American Fork, Utah, with 21,941 residents. Check out American Fact Finder.

Safety Tips:
• Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
• To prevent a trash fire, be sure to douse the spent fireworks with plenty of water from a bucket or hose after fireworks complete their burning and before discarding them.
• Make sure fireworks are legal before buying or using them.

What are your plans this 4th of July? Share them with us! We’d love to hear what you and the rest of the community will be doing to celebrate! (Don’t forget to make sure there are no restrictions on fireworks! Check out this link to see if fireworks might be an issue for you this year.)

Also, check out these 4th of July party invitations, eGreeting cards, and delicious recipes!
July 4th eCard invitations!
Happy Independence Day eCards
Independence Day Recipes

Photo by shawnajean
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Photo by shawnajean

Stay Cool with a Braces-Friendly Summer Treat!

orthodontics

Summer is here!

Kids and adults alike will now be spending more time outside being active and enjoying the hotter temperatures. What’s better on a hot summer day than a delicious treat that will cool you down after doing something active in the summer sun? Luckily, our friends at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) have just the thing, Watermelon Sorbet! You can find the complete recipe below:

Watermelon Sorbet

Ingredients
• ¾ cup water
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon lime juice
• 2 to 3 cups watermelon, diced, no seeds or rind

Directions
In a small saucepan, heat the water, sugar, and lime juice on medium high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Chill this “syrup” at least 20 minutes. In the meantime, place the watermelon chunks in a food processor or blender and liquefy them. Add the chilled syrup to the watermelon puree and blend. Freeze sorbet in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve immediately.

Happy Summer!