Frequently Asked Questions

Is it required that my dentist refer me for an initial visit with the orthodontist?
No, it is not.  Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, yet many other patients take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves.

At what age should my child be seen by an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age 7.  Early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later.

How do I know if my child is in need of orthodontic treatment?
It is oftentimes difficult for you to determine if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight.  Conversely, there are some problems that look rather complex which will resolve on their own.  Our initial exam is complimentary and we would be happy to see your child and make any recommendations necessary.

What are some early signs of orthodontic problems?
Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following signs may help in prompting you to seek our orthodontic advice.

Have your child open his or her mouth and look for the following:

  • Any signs of crooked teeth/overlapping teeth
  • Space between teeth

Ask your child to bite all the way down, but keep their lips open so you can see their teeth.  Look for the following:

  • Do the front teeth line up with the bottom?
  • Do the top teeth protrude out away from the bottom teeth?
  • Do the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth?
  • Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth?

All of these are indicators for potential orthodontic treatment.

Finally, look at the alignment of your childs jaw.  Does the jaw shift off center when your child bites down?  If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, your child may have a skeletal problem, which requires early orthodontic treatment.

Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?
No, they will not.  The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow.  In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.

How do braces straighten crooked teeth?
Braces use constant, gentle pressure, which over time, move teeth into their proper position.  Using brackets placed on your teeth and a main archwire connecting the brackets together, a system for tooth movement is established.  The archwire is bent to reflect your ideal bite, the way we want your teeth to look after treatment.  The first of many archwires used is flexible and threads through the brackets on the crooked teeth and, as the wire tries to return to its original shape, it applies pressure to move your teeth.

Visualize a tooth centered in its bony socket.  With pressure applied on one side of the tooth socket by the archwire, the bone on the other side gives way, the tooth moves and new bone grows in behind it.  By this manner, the root has actually moved through the bone to a new position.  Subsequent arch wires are utilized that are increasingly stiffer in nature to keep the pressure on the teeth to make smaller increments of change as the teeth approach ideal alignment.