You already know that braces straighten crooked teeth. But what you may not realise is that orthodontic treatment achieves
more than beautiful smiles for most patients. This page briefly explains how and why proper treatment by an orthodontic specialist results in a
lifetime of benefits.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The
technical term for these problems is "malocclusion", which means "bad bite". The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the
design, application and control of corrective appliances (braces) to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and achieve facial
Why do I have dental and facial problems?
Most malocclusions are inherited, but some are acquired. Inherited problems include crowding of teeth, extra or missing teeth, cleft lip and
palate and a wide variety of other irregularities of the jaws and face.
Acquired malocclusions can be caused by thumb or finger sucking, tongue thrusting, the airway being restricted by tonsils and adenoids, dental
disease or premature loss of primary or permanent teeth.
Whether inherited or acquired, many of these problems affect not only alignment of the teeth, but facial appearance as well.
Why is orthodontic treatment so Important ?
Everyone wants a beautiful smile - and everyone should have a healthy one. The orthodontists goal is to achieve both for the patient.
Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This may contribute to conditions that cause not only tooth decay but eventual gum
disease and tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue,
or misalignment of the jaw joints with resultant chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck.
When left untreated, many orthodontic problems become worse. Treatment by a specialist to correct the original problem is often less costly than
the additional dental care required to treat the more serious problems that can develop in later years.
The importance of an attractive smile should not be underestimated. A pleasing appearance is a vital asset to one's self-confidence. A person's
self-esteem often improves as treatment brings teeth, lips and face into harmony. In this way, orthodontic treatment can benefit social and
career success as well as improve one's general attitude towards life.
Why should you choose a specialist?
Teeth and sometimes faces are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment; therefore, it is very important that the treatment be done
Orthodontic specialists limit their practice to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopaedics unless they also have qualified in another American
Dental Association (ADA) recognized speciality. By completing an advanced education program following dental school, they have learned the
special skills required to manage tooth movement and quick facial development.
Specialists use the most advanced techniques available today and because of their extensive training and knowledge, they can select
cost-effective methods and materials for correcting individual problems.
When should treatment begin?
There is no answer to this question because each orthodontic problem determines its own best starting time. For this reason, the American
Association of Orthodontics recommends that every child visit an orthodontist by the age of seven or earlier if an orthodontic problem is
detected by parents, the family dentist or the child's physician.
This may surprise you because orthodontic treatment is usually associated with adolescence. An early examination, however, allows the
orthodontic specialist to determine when a child's particular problem should be treated for maximum improvement with the least time and
expense In many patients, early treatment achieves results that are unattainable once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Another plus is that early intervention frequently makes the completion of treatment at a later age easier and less time-consuming.
What about adult treatment?
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. In fact, about 25 percent of orthodontic patients today are adults. The biological process
involved in tooth movement is the same in adults and children. The health of an individual's teeth, gums and supporting bone is what is most
important in determining the prospects for improving an adults smile and dental health.
Because an adult's facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections cannot be accomplished with braces alone. However, very dramatic
facial changes are now being achieved with a combined approach of surgery and orthodontics for individuals who elect to receive this type of
What will treatment cost?
The actual cost of orthodontic treatment varies widely, depending on the severity of the problem. Your orthodontic specialist will be glad to
discuss fees with you before treatment begins.
Convenient financing with an initial down payment and monthly installments usually can be arranged.
When you consider the cost of orthodontic treatment, be sure to keep in mind the many benefits of having a lifetime of beautiful, healthy