1. What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of malocclusions and facial irregularities.

2. What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who completes an advanced post-doctoral course, accredited by the American Dental Association, of at least two academic years in the specialty of orthodontics, to learn the skills necessary to control tooth movement and direct facial development.

3. What are some advantages of orthodontic treatment?

A more appealing smile.
Better self-esteem, which is especially critical during the development years.
Teeth function better.
Better able to clean the teeth, which impacts the long-term health of the gums and teeth.
Reduces the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth.
Improves force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth.
Positively impacts permanent teeth by guiding them into better positions.
Helps make other dental treatment effective.

4. What are some signs that orthodontic treatment may be necessary?

The upper front teeth extend too much over the lower teeth (overjet).
When biting together, the upper front teeth cover most of the lower teeth (deep bite).
The upper front teeth are inside or behind the lower front teeth (under bite).
When biting together, the upper and lower front teeth do not meet (open bite).
Crowding-this occurs when teeth do not have enough room to erupt from the gum.
Spacing problems.
When biting together, the lower jaw shifts to one side or the other.
The center of the lower and upper teeth does not align correctly.
You find it difficult to chew.
You experience uneven or excessive wear on the teeth.
Finger or thumb-sucking habits continue after age six or seven.

5. When should orthodontic treatment occur?

While treatment can begin at any age, many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if they are identified at an early age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the first orthodontic evaluation should occur at the age 7 or earlier if a problem is identified by the family dentist, parents or the child’s doctor. Early treatment may prevent the need for surgery and more serious problems from occurring.

6. What is early, standard and comprehensive treatment?

Early treatment begins before the eruption of all the permanent teeth; generally between the ages of 7 and 10. It includes the use of expanders or partial braces. During this phase of treatment, Dr. Hansen can correct crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits, and create space for developing teeth.

Standard (full braces) treatment is initiated when all the permanent teeth develop. This generally occurs between the ages of 11 and 13.

Comprehensive treatment consists of both early and standard treatment. It provides the optimum results of both phases of treatment in one step.

7. Would adults benefit from orthodontic treatment?

Of course. 25% of patients today are adults. Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. We all want to enjoy the benefits of a beautiful, healthy smile.

8. How does the treatment process work?

Braces apply a constant, gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. Braces consist of brackets, which are placed on the teeth, and the archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it attempts to revert to its original shape. As this happens, the archwire applies pressure to shift the teeth into new, better positions.

9. How long will orthodontic treatment take?

While treatment time varies depending on the case, the average length of time it takes to complete treatment is from one to three years. Patient compliance, the severity of the correction and the rate of growth affects treatment time. Attending scheduled appointments and practicing proper oral hygiene are important for keeping treatment on schedule.

10. Do braces hurt?

You should not feel any discomfort when the bands and brackets are placed. After the braces are placed and connected with the archwires, you may experience soreness for a couple of days. It may take a week or two for your lips and cheeks to get adjusted to the braces.

11. Will I still be able to play sports?

Of course. However, we recommend that you wear a mouth guard. They are comfortable, inexpensive and come is several types of colors and patterns.

12. Will I still be able to play my musical instrument?

Although, you will experience an initial period of adjustment, braces should not hinder you. We can provide brace covers to prevent discomfort.

13. Do I need to see my general dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Yes. Continue to visit your general dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups.

14. What is a space maintainer?

A space maintainer is a fixed wire appliance generally placed between teeth to hold the space for the permanent teeth. It is necessary when a patient loses a baby molar.

15. How does a child’s growth impact orthodontic treatment?

A child’s development and orthodontic treatment can actually correlate with each other. A common condition that can be treated during a child’s growth is protrusion of the upper teeth ahead of the lower front teeth. The condition generally occurs because the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw. During the child’s development, while the upper and lower jaws are still growing, orthodontic appliances can be utilized to help the lower jaw catch up with the upper jaw. Also, other conditions, such as a severe jaw length discrepancy, can be treated effectively while a child is still maturing. If left untreated until a period of slow or no jaw growth, corrective surgery may be required to correct the discrepancy. Children who might have problems with jaw length or width should be examined no later than age 10 for girls and age 12 for boys.

16. What appliances are typically utilized to correct jaw-growth problems?

Jaw-growth discrepancy is treated by the process of dentofacial orthopedics. The following are common orthopedic appliances utilized to correct jaw discrepancies:

Palatal Expansion Appliance: If a child’s upper jaw is too narrow for the upper teeth to fit properly with the lower, a palatal expansion appliance is used to expand the width of the upper jaw. The device can be attached to the upper back teeth.
Herbst: The herbst appliance can be utilized to help correct severe protrusion of the upper teeth. It holds the lower jaw forward, thus affecting jaw growth and tooth positions. It is generally attached to the upper and lower molar teeth.

Dr. Hansen will determine which appliance is suitable for treating each patient’s condition. Generally, one or several appliances can be utilized to successfully treat the patient’s condition. Patient compliance is essential to ensure optimal results are achieved.

17. Does orthodontic treatment sometimes last longer than anticipated?

The treatment time provided during the initial consultation is only an estimate. Because each patient’s growth rate is different, their response to treatment varies. Dr. Hansen has established specific goals for each patient and will usually continue treatment until the goals are reached. However, patient compliance is the best indicator that treatment will remain on schedule. Patients who wear rubber bands and other appliances as instructed, and handle appliances with care to ensure they are not damaged, will most often finish treatment on time and achieve excellent results. The majority of patients complete treatment on time. Should there be any delay, we will notify you well in advance.

18. Why do I need to wear retainers following treatment?

After we remove your braces, your teeth can move out of the new position if they are not stabilized. Retainers are designed to stabilize your new teeth positions until the gums and bones adapt to the changes. Wearing retainers exactly as Dr. Hansen instructs you is the best assurance that your treatment results will last for a lifetime.

19. Can my child’s tooth alignment change later on?

Studies indicate that as people mature, their teeth may shift. This variable pattern of shifting occurs progressively, and is known as maturational change. Although shifting slows down after the early 20’s, most people continue to experience it to a certain degree throughout their life. Even children who experience no orthodontic problems during development may require orthodontic treatment as adults. Crowding of the lower front teeth is the most probable maturational change. Wearing retainers as instructed will stabilize the new teeth positions. Beyond the phase of full-time wear, wearing retainers at night can also prevent maturational movement.