- Published on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 13:59
- Written by Super User
If you are refusing to smile because you are embarrassed by your crooked teeth, it is time to seek the help of an orthodontist! Orthodontists are trained in moving teeth around and can help align your teeth into a healthy smile.
Historically, children and teenagers were the majority of patients seeking the care of an orthodontist. Today, one in five orthodontic patients is an adult.
What Exactly Do Orthodontists Do?
The main reason a patient consults with an orthodontist is to take care of their malocclusion, or "bad bite." An orthodontist is skilled in straightening of the teeth which helps how your teeth fit together, and thus how your jaw aligns. Essentially, an orthodontist corrects your bite and makes your smile look "perty" as we say here in the South.
In order to do this, they have many different tools and hardware which include: braces, trays or aligners, headgear, and retainers. Depending on a patient’s teeth, an orthodontist would use a combination of these. A general dentist will sometimes give the patient a referral to see an orthodontist, just like doctors in other fields would do. Mainly this would be the case if a kid was being teased at school for his crooked teeth. However, here at Bozart Family Dentistry, we are one of the few dentists who also handle orthodontics in house as well. In order to become an orthodontist, a person needs to finish four years of dental school and then move on to two or three years of concentrated study in orthodontics. Many general dentists could handle minor orthodontic problems and do some orthodontic work, but most likely will send a more complicated case to see an orthodontist.
Why Visit an Orthodontist?
Even though most patients see the orthodontist for reasons of appearance, one of the most important outcomes is how the teeth will fit together once the treatment is complete. Teeth that are crooked or crowded can cause more serious problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and even the loss of teeth. The reason is simple. Overlapping, crowded teeth are much more difficult to clean. A case of bad bite can also lead to problems with talking and chewing, and even grinding and clenching. Through the years, we have seen many advancements in orthodontic care. In 1927 stainless steel brackets were introduced. Skip ahead to the 1970's and clear ceramic or porcelain brackets appeared on the scene. In 1999, Invisalign broke through. It is a serious of clear trays that fit in the mouth and are changed every two weeks. There are also other types of tray aligners such as: Red, White, and Blue, ClearCorrect, and Simpli5. Today, some braces are made to be nearly invisible as well. They have clear or tooth colored brackets and others even adhere to the back side, or lingual, of your teeth.
When to See an Orthodontist
Children should see an orthodontist no later than the age of 7, because at this age the jaw is still developing and it's always best to try and catch issues early. Most kids will see an orthodontist between the ages of 9 and 14, but the average for girls is a little younger. Typically, the ages for adult patients might be 26 to 44 years old, but there are also those that will seek care well into their 60s and 70s. Each patient’s care is customized for their teeth, but treatment typically takes between one to three years.
Choosing an Orthodontist
The best way to choose an orthodontist is to take referrals from family and friends. Once you have done so, interview each by asking questions, such as how easy it is to reschedule an appointment. Typically, a patient visits the orthodontist every month or so and other engagements can often pop up, interfering with appointments. You may also want to ask if there is a family discount, as crooked teeth tend to run in the family!
Whether or not your orthodontist is the right fit often simply depends on the personality of the orthodontist and your overall feeling when you are there. How inviting is the office and what are the mannerisms of the staff? Are they friendly and helpful to yourself and the patients around you?
First Things First: A Consultation
Most orthodontists will offer a free or low-cost consultation to their patients which could include a panoramic X-ray that gives a complete mouth view, photographs, and a medical history. An orthodontist may also measure how wide a person is able to open their mouth and if there's tenderness in the jaw muscle or clicking of the jaw, including grinding. The protrusion may also be measured. This is how far the teeth are jutting out. The crowding of the teeth is also factored into the plan your orthodontist puts into action for you. At the end of the appointment, a patient will get an estimate of what it will cost, the projected length of treatment, and the overall goals of the orthodontic treatment.
Cost of Orthodontic Care
Costs for orthodontic care vary widely upon region and doctor. Prices may also vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and can also depend upon the number of patients a practice sees throughout the day. Keep in mind that more expensive does not mean that you are receiving better care. For instance, if an orthodontist offers high end video games in their waiting room, you may be paying more for those extras than for actual care that you are getting. Payment options are typically available and many times interest-free financing can be taken advantage of for those clients with good credit. Most also offer financing options through a bank. Furthermore, in 2010 60% of all new patients had dental insurance that includes orthodontic benefits and care. Be sure to ask if there is a lifetime cap or maximum, or any age limits when it comes to financing. Also, remember that like any insurance, orthodontic insurance is set up to cover only a portion of the fee, not all of it. Once you have completed your orthodontic care, you will have a newfound confidence in yourself. It's amazing what a difference a beautiful smile can make for your life!