Ask Dr. Lowry
What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist who has specialized in orthodontics, the specific area of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. To become an orthodontist, a dentist must return to school to attend a 2-3 year full time residency program of advanced education in orthodontics accredited by the American Dental Association.
At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an orthodontic evaluation at age 7 in order to assess and monitor bone development. Treatment at this early age may lessen the necessity to extract teeth during the teen years. However, orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications.
Can adults benefit from braces?
Yes. Braces aren’t just for kids! One in five orthodontic patients are adults. As long as your teeth and gums are healthy, braces are an option for a beautiful smile
Do I need a referral from my dentist to see the orthodontist?
No. If you have concerns about your smile or your bite, please call our office and we will schedule a consultation. At that appointment, we can determine your concerns, identify problems with your teeth bite and smile and chart a tentative course to a solution for you. However, it is very important that we work together with your family dentist to achieve our goals. We will need to ensure that you have had a recent exam and cleaning and that all necessary dental work is up to date, before any braces are placed or other treatment is started.
Do I need to see my dentist during my orthodontic treatment?
Absolutely! It is very important that you see your dentist at least every six months while you have braces on so that you can be checked for cavities and to have your teeth cleaned. For some patients, we recommend even more frequent cleanings. Please let us know after you have had your teeth cleaned so that we can update our files. Some dentists incorporate orthodontic treatment into their practices, drawing upon information learned in dental school and short courses on orthodontics. Your dentist may offer to treat your orthodontic problem if he or she feels it is within the scope of his or her abilities. If not, a referral to an orthodontist is indicated. Some of the dentists who refer the greatest numbers of patients to our office do some orthodontic treatment in their office: their knowledge of bite problems helps them identify situations that demand assessment by an orthodontist.
Aren't braces expensive?
Braces are actually very affordable. We offer several flexible payment options to fit your budget. It is difficult to give an exact figure given that orthodontic problems range from simple to extremely complex. As well, the treatment approach selected by Dr. Lowry, with your input, can affect the cost of your treatment. At your consultation appointment, Dr. Lowry’s office will give you an estimate for the actual cost of your treatment and the payment options that are available to you.
Braces are a great investment. In fact, 78 percent of mothers who had braces as a child believe braces are one of the best investments their parents made for them. An attractive smile is a wonderful asset. It contributes to self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image—important qualities at every age.
What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?
It has been clinically proven that a beautiful smile leads to higher self-esteem. Confidence generates success. People with beautiful smiles have a lot to be happy about.
- A more attractive smile
- Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
- Better function of the teeth
- Possible increase in self-confidence
- Increased ability to clean the teeth
- Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
- Better long term health of teeth and gums
- Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
- Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
- Aid in optimizing other dental treatment
What are some signs that braces may be needed?
- Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked
- Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
- Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
- The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
- Crowded or overlapped teeth The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
- Finger or thumb sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
- Difficulty chewing
- Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
- The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
- Spaces between the teeth
What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?
Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.
How does orthodontic treatment work?
Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
Will it hurt?
The actual placement of your braces (or other orthodontic devices) does not hurt. However, most folks find that there is some initial discomfort during the first week or so with braces. A great way to minimize this discomfort is to take ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin are two popular examples) about an hour or so before placement of separators, braces, or wire changes. Usually, any discomfort is short lived.
In addition, techniques and materials available to orthodontists today mean that patients are likely to have a much more comfortable experience compared to patients decades ago.
What can I eat?
In reality, you can eat just about anything as long as you use a little common sense. We will review eating with braces on the day that the braces are placed.
Will braces interfere with playing sports?
No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. People wearing braces have to wear a special mouthguard that is specifically for braces. You can purchase these at most sports stores in the Treasure Valley
Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?
No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.