How can I get free braces?
The state Medicaid program provides free braces if you qualify and have Medicaid.
We will also work with you to provide nominal payment plans to make it affordable if you have true financial difficulty.
How long do you have to wear braces?
The length of time a person may need to wear braces varies widely. Treatment length usually ranges between 18 to 32 months. Complex or severe bad bites will take longer to correct. Patients who don’t do their part in cleaning their teeth or in following their orthodontist’s instructions will also require a longer treatment course. Other factors which can prolong treatment duration include unexpected bone growth, abnormal bone, broken braces and missed appointments. Patients who follow all of their orthodontist’s instructions and who take care of their braces will have the shortest treatment course. Remember, whether or not you decide to listen to your orthodontist will determine your treatment length!
How should I look for the early warning signs of a bad bite?
For parents, it is key to examine your child’s teeth as the permanent teeth grow in. Although children mature at different rates, the following are signs that may indicate the need for an early orthodontic examination:
- early or late loss of baby teeth
- difficulty chewing or biting
- crowding, malpositioned, or blocked out teeth
- a gap between upper and lower front teeth when the child bites down
- biting of the cheeks or the roof of the mouth
- teeth that do not meet at all
- jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face
- finger sucking or pacifier habits beyond the age of six
- top front teeth which stick out, protrude or are “bucked”
- baby teeth that do not grow to full height like their neighbors
- top front teeth which grow in behind the bottom front teeth
- top front teeth which cover more than 25% of the bottom front teeth when the back teeth are biting together
- a weak or prominent chin
- neighboring teeth which shift out of alignment when the tooth between them has been removed
- when the centers of the top and bottom front teeth don’t line up
- teeth which wear unevenly
- jaws that shift off center when the teeth bite together
- excessive spaces between teeth that persist after the top permanent canine teeth appear
- teeth which cause embarrassment or smiles that are hidden by hands
How do orthodontists save room for the permanent teeth?
Baby teeth hold the space for the permanent teeth that will come in later. When baby canines and molars loosen or fall out, a lower lingual arch or a Nance space maintainer can be placed to ensure there is space when a child’s permanent teeth come in. The space maintainer prevents both the lower back permanent molars from slipping forward and the lower front permanent incisor teeth from tipping backwards. This saves or preserves the maximum amount of space for the permanent teeth (canines and bicuspids) that grow between the permanent back molar and the lower incisors.
What are the benefits of early treatment?
Early treatment provides the opportunity to:
- guide the growth of young jaw bones to create a better environment for those new emerging permanent teeth
- guide incoming teeth into optimal positions
- modify the width of the jaws
- lower the risk of trauma to prominent front teeth
- correct harmful sucking habits
- reduce the likelihood of teeth becoming stuck or impacted under the gums
- preserve or gain space for arriving permanent teeth
What is Phase I or early treatment?
Orthodontic treatment before all of the adult teeth are present is called “early phase treatment”. This early intervention may be necessary when teeth or jaws are not developing properly. Early-phase treatment can shorten the length of the later phase of full treatment. It may also prevent the need for teeth extractions. For more info, see the Patient Information menu.
Will things sometimes look worse before they will look better during orthodontic treatment?
During orthodontic treatment teeth may look worse before they improve. Teeth move in different directions as they straighten out. As a result, a new space may appear between the front teeth. Teeth which appeared straight before treatment may even appear to grow crooked. This is all part of the process of realignment. With time and patience these new irregularities will disappear along with the problems which brought you to the orthodontist in the first place.
What do rubber bands do?
Rubber bands or elastics are key contributors to achieving straight teeth. Attached to your braces, elastics provide the force needed to move the teeth to where they need to be. It is important to wear your elastics as prescribed and change them every day so that force against your teeth remains at a constant level. Proper usage of elastics is often the key to moving the teeth and the bite to the right place. A lack of consistency in wearing elastics can prolong the treatment. This is one factor in treatment length that the patient has full control over. Teeth never fail to move when elastics are worn consistently as directed.
Why does orthodontic treatment sometimes take longer than anticipated?
Physical growth rate in humans is variable. Therefore, the rate and speed of the biological processes that allow the teeth to move will also vary between patients. Slower than normal tooth growth, unexpected jaw growth, or impacted teeth are uncontrollable factors and can contribute to a longer treatment length. However, the most common factors causing prolonged treatment are poor patient cooperation, frequent breakage and missing appointments. These factors are under the direct control of the patient.
Can I have my teeth aligned without visible braces?
Teeth can be straighten without obvious braces. Adults or matures teens with only 1 – 6 millimeters of crowding or spacing of the front teeth and no missing or severely tipped teeth will not require braces that are glued on. A series of 3-D computer generated invisible aligners may create a beautiful smile for you without visible braces. Keep in mind that invisible aligners will not correct poor bites that due to jaw bone malpositioning. Therefore, to achieve the best smile possible, many patients will benefit from a treatment program which combines a short period of traditional braces followed by a longer period of invisible aligners.
The industry leader for invisible aligners is Invisalign (TM). Be aware that in 2002, Invisalign (TM) began licensing its technology to dentists who have “no prior orthodontic experience”. In light of the fact that invisible aligners alone are unlikely to produce the best smile, we urge patients interested in using invisible aligners to seek their treatment from licensed orthodontists.
Do I have to visit the dentist while I have braces?
Orthodontic treatment does not take the place of regular dental check ups. Patients under orthodontic care should maintain the recommended 6 month checkup/cleaning visits with their general dentist to make sure their teeth are remain healthy during the course of treatment.
Do adults get braces?
Children aren’t the only ones who benefit from orthodontics. Adults are even more likely to be bothered by having a less than perfect smile. If you are an adult, it is not too late to correct problems such as crooked or crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, incorrect jaw position, or jaw-joint disorders. The biological process involved in moving teeth is the same at any age. There are differences between orthodontic treatment for adults and for children. Treatment for an adult usually takes a little longer than treatment for a child. Further, because an adult’s facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections may require procedures in addition to braces. No matter what your age, it is never too late to improve your dental health and beautify your smile.
How many people receive orthodontic care in the US?
At any given time, approximately 4 million Americans are in braces.
How much do braces cost?
How much is self-confidence, a proper bite and a beautiful smile worth?
The fee for orthodontic treatment will depend on many factors, including how severe the problem is, how complex the treatment is, and how long the treatment lasts. Orthodontic treatment is an individualized service. It is not like buying a TV or car where you can choose your model and bargain shop for the lowest price. Just as you would not automatically choose the contractor for your home based on the bottom line, you should not automatically choose your orthodontist based on the bottom line. Instead, you need to consider the level of service you will be receiving, the technology and materials used, the expertise and the quality of education received by your practitioner. All orthodontic offices are not created equal. Straight teeth and a winning smile is a gainful investment that will yield immeasurable returns.
Please keep in mind that orthodontic treatment is not merely cosmetic. In many cases there is an underlying medical dysfunction. Therefore, financing for treatment is usually available. The cost of orthodontic treatment may even be completely covered for eligible patients. (Please see: How can I get free braces?) Moreover, our office offers various payment plans to accommodate your financial situation and will even tailor a payment schedule to fit your needs. Well timed orthodontic treatment to correct a problem is often less costly than the additional dental care required to treat the more serious problems that can develop years later.
Can tooth alignment change (relapse) after my braces are off?
Studies show that people’s teeth may shift as they age. Teeth always tend to drift once braces are removed if a patient refuses to use a retainer. The most common change is crowding of the bottom front teeth. Careful studies have shown that the removal of the lower third molars or wisdom teeth will not prevent this crowding. Adhering to your doctor’s recommendations for retainer use is the best way to maintain the smile you worked so hard to achieve. Orthodontists agree that life long retention is the only way to prevent teeth from shifting.
How often do I have to brush my teeth while I have braces?
We recommend brushing 3 times a day for 3-4 minutes each session. You must spend more time and care in brushing and flossing your teeth since food will stick the brackets of the braces and certain areas will be more difficult to access for cleaning.
How will having braces change my daily life?
Having braces will require that you give up extremely hard, sticky, and high sugar foods. These foods can get caught on the braces, bend wires, loosen cement and pull the braces off and/or cause cavities and permanent white marks on the teeth. Soft foods or foods cut into small pieces are much better for your teeth and for your braces. You will also need to spend a few extra minutes cleaning your braces after meals. For the most part, you’ll find braces will not cramp your style. You will still have fun. You will still be able to sing, play your musical instrument, smile, play sports and of course, kiss. You can even make a fashion statement by having your orthodontist add color to your braces. Your friends will be accustomed to you in braces more quickly than you think.
Foods and habits to avoid with braces:
- Hard, chewy candies – Chewing gum, Starburst, Skittles, Caramel
- Pretzels, pizza crust, baguettes, bagels, Doritos
- Nuts, popcorn, beef jerky
- When eating apples or pears, cut it in pieces and chew with the back teeth
- No nail- biting, crunching ice cubes or chewing pens, pencils, or pen caps
Why should I have my teeth straightened?
Poorly arranged teeth can break easily and can trap food particles that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Malocclusions may interfere with the ability to chew. The result is poor broken down food which can affect digestion and overall health. Finally, poorly arranged teeth detract from your smile. Your smile is not only one of the more important features contributing to the beauty of your face, it is your means of expressing joy, contentment, and humor. A great smile and a healthy mouth is the best investment one can make for the future.
How do braces straighten crooked teeth?
Braces use steady, gentle pressure over time to move teeth into their proper positions. Like the hour hand on a clock, braces may not appear to be doing anything, but they are in fact causing positive changes in your mouth at every moment of your orthodontic treatment. The brackets we place on your teeth and the main arch wire that connects them are the two main components to braces. The bracket is a piece of specially shaped metal or ceramic that we affix to each tooth. We then bend the arch wire to reflect your ‘ideal” bite (what we want you to look like after treatment). The wire threads through the brackets; the wire’s attempt to return to its initial shape applies the pressure to move your teeth. Picture your tooth resting in your jaw bone. With pressure on one side from the arch wire, the bone on the other side gives way. The tooth moves. New bone grows in behind. It may look like nothing is happening but we’re making progress a little at a time.
Will my teeth straighten by themselves? or will I have more room for teeth as I grow?
Teeth rarely align by themselves as you grow. After the first permanent molars grow out around age 6 or 7, the amount of available space between these teeth will usually decrease and contribute to the crowding of teeth.
What causes crooked teeth?
Just as we inherit eye color from our parents, mouth and jaw features are also inherited. Local factors such as finger sucking, pacifier sucking, high cavity rate, gum disease, trauma and premature loss of baby teeth can also contribute to poor alignment or a bad bite. Abnormal muscular habits and jaw development can also result in poor alignment or bites. One out of every five school age children has a severe bite problem so it is not surprising that braces are very common.
Will I need any teeth removed?
Tooth removal is necessary if we cannot save or make enough room for all of your teeth. Additionally, you may choose to improve your facial profile or your bite by having teeth removed. Don’t worry, we will give you all possible options and let you decide. If you need to have your teeth pulled, recovery is about 2 days for most patients. There is no need to be concerned about the immediate cosmetic effects of teeth removal. Your orthodontist will close any spaces and no one will even notice you have less teeth than before.
How often do I have to come to have my braces adjusted?
Appointments are usually every 4-6 weeks. Normal adjustments may be completed in only 10-20 minutes. It is very important that appointments are kept so that we can provide the proper follow-up and treatment to ensure both the best and the quickest results possible.
Do braces hurt?
Having braces should not be painful. However, there will be some soreness of the mouth after the braces are initially placed, and after each adjustment of the braces. Soreness will typically last 1-2 days after treatment. At Superlative Smiles we believe in using very gentle forces to minimize discomfort to your mouth.
When is the best time to schedule an initial consultation?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an initial consultation with an orthodontist when a child is age 7 or younger. By age 7, enough permanent teeth have come in and enough jaw growth has occurred that orthodontic problems can be identified. Early consultation allows the orthodontist to determine the optimum time for treatment to begin. Many parents and some family dentists assume visiting an orthodontist must be delayed until a child has all of his or her permanent teeth, only to find that treatment would have been much easier if started at an earlier date. Early treatment can eliminate the need for more drastic measures. Additionally, early intervention reduces the length of time children spend embarrassed about their teeth. Adults can be treated at any age as long as the gums and bone providing support for their teeth are healthy.
Why should you choose an orthodontic specialist for your care?
Every dentist who offers braces is not an orthodontist. A licensed orthodontic specialist is a dentist who has completed an additional 2-3 years of training in orthodontics after dental school. Orthodontists have dedicated their practice exclusively to orthodontics. They are experts at moving teeth, helping jaws develop properly and working with you to help make sure the teeth stay in their new positions. Dr Luk is not only a licensed orthodontist, he is a board certified orthodontist. To become board certified, an orthodontist must successfully pass a rigorous exam and present cases before an exam committee. This is a high level of achievement awarded to only a small percentage of orthodontists. For more information about board certified orthodontists, please visit: http://www.americanboardortho.com/public/