In this installment of Ask the Dentist, we talk to Dr. Stern about orthodontics, commonly referred to as “braces”. Dr. Stern sees our ortho patients here at Maintain Your Smile; he has taken many post-graduate orthodontic treatment courses and has been helping these patients in creating their beautiful smiles for almost 20 years.
The following is a conversation with Dr. Stern answering some of the common questions about who may need braces and why.
Why Do Kids Need Braces?
“The most common reason for braces is when crowding of the front teeth becomes noticeable. This problem can be easy to identify when you see your child’s teeth coming in crooked. Sometimes, however, the front teeth may look fine, but the back teeth are not biting properly. This will lead to functional problems as the child grows and becomes an adult. In all cases, we know that teeth will have fewer problems, function better and remain easier to clean for a lifetime if they are in the proper position.”
What is the Best Age to Begin Orthodontic Treatment?
“Since we see your child’s progress every six months at their regular check-up, we are able to watch their development closely and begin treatment at the optimum time to get the best results.
“Each child and case is different, but most of the time active ortho is started when the child has lost all or nearly all of their baby teeth. In some instances, better results are expected if we begin treatment earlier, sometimes at eight or nine years old. In these cases, we utilize appliances to aid development of proper jaw dimensions and position.
“Additional treatment may be required later once all of the permanent have come in, or erupted.”
What Sort of Appliances do Kids Have to Wear?
“We mostly do traditional braces where a small metal bracket is bonded to the front of the tooth. This bracket has a slot for a certain size and shape wire that fits through the brackets and is connected by tiny rubber bands that can be changed monthly. Sometimes, children will need to wear appliances, such as expanders and space maintainers, before the braces are attached.”
How Long Does Treatment Take?
“Each case is unique, but a general rule of thumb is 18 to 24 months.”
What About Brushing Around Braces?
“Good oral hygiene during orthodontics is critical to a lifetime of healthy teeth. Brackets and wires do make it difficult to brush effectively, so extra effort is necessary to keep teeth clean during treatment. We always supply our ortho patients with an electric toothbrush – at no additional cost – to help them maintain clean teeth. More frequent and careful brushing keeps teeth healthy during treatment.
Lack of good brushing combined with a sugary diet results in chalky white “decalcification” near the gum line. This is the first stage of an actual cavity. Since our goal is creating a smile that is both beautiful and healthy for a lifetime, preventing cavities during treatment is imperative.”
Our goal is the healthiest teeth and gums possible for all of our patients. Since properly positioned teeth are easier to clean, have fewer cavities and function better for a lifetime, we will always do our utmost to insure the best possible “bite” for every patient.
This originally appeared in our Spring 2016 Newsletter