When to straighten? Now or later?

There’s no perfect time for braces.  However, generally speaking, younger is better & much more convenient than older.

A few reasons are:  Kids tend to be more resilient than adults.  Adults’ lives are more chaotic and busy.  Kids also have fewer fillings, crowns, implants, periodontal issues, etc.

So, if you’re wondering if Johnny is ready for braces, please stop by for a consult.  If Johnny has all his permanent teeth (most 12 year olds do) then it may be the easiest time for him to do braces.

Or if you’re an adult yourself there’s no better day than today.  For some of you adults you may need to muster the courage to put braces back on or use clear aligners.  But once you’re ready and get started you’ll realize braces (or aligners) as an adult is easier than ever.  Straightening teeth has been proven to be one of life’s best investments!

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Good Oral Hygiene: brushing & flossing teeth during braces…

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Have a look in the mirror at your new braces. As you see, the brackets and wires have many nooks and crannies that can trap food and plaque. This means your risk of tooth decay and gum problems may be higher while you are wearing braces.

You need to pay special attention to cleaning your teeth everyday and to your diet. Permanent damage to tooth enamel can occur if the teeth and brackets are not kept clean.

Areas on the enamel surface may begin to lose minerals (the early stage of tooth decay), leaving unsightly white spots. You may also develop inflamed, bleeding gums (gingivitis). Gingivitis and the early stages of tooth decay can be reversed by taking extra care with your cleaning and diet. If left untreated, they can lead to bigger problems that will require treatment and have life-long effects. While you are having orthodontic treatment, you need to continue to have regular check-ups with your family dental professional to ensure little problems don’t become big ones.

This patient below has significant decalcification or white spots on the upper teeth:

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This patient below has not only white spots, but also several cavities that must be filled by the dentist ASAP.

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So, keep those teeth clean while we straighten and align your bite.  You don’t want straight teeth that have been harmed by poor oral care.  We don’t see outcomes like this (images above) often, but they do occur (unfortunately!) from time to time.

Orthodontists. Who are they?

General dentists clean, repair, and replace teeth. Orthodontists study and practice 2-3 years longer than dentists to become specialists at braces and Invisalign.

Orthodontists studied a lot.  An awful lot.  And virtually all orthodontists excelled in their coursework and with patients.  In other  words, orthodontists usually graduated at the top of their classes.   Orthodontists attended a college or university for at least 4 years.  Then they trained in dental school for 4 years.  Finally, orthodontic residency lasted another 2-3 years.

Orthodontists are specialists in the area of braces and aligners (Invisalign).  Doing braces for 2-3 years in a residency setting after dental school — treating a huge variety of patients — before venturing into business is the best way to produce consistently great results in private practice.  Once they complete school, orthodontists do braces every day, all day.

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General dentists do amazing work, and sometime also do braces.  Usually, general dentists spend most of their time filling teeth, cleaning teeth, making crowns, making dentures, placing implants, etc.  This is what dental school trained them to do.  General dentists did not attend a 2-3 year orthodontic residency after dental school.

If you’re thinking of getting braces or Invisalign from your general dentist please consider asking these questions to your (non-specialist) dentist:

  • Do you ever refer cases to an orthodontist?
  • Do you have cases that don’t go well that you pass on to the specialist/orthodontist  to finish for you?
  • Do you refer your kids to the orthodontist?
  • How many cases have  you finished that are similar to my teeth?
  • How many cases did you do before you started practicing with braces and/or Invisalign?

 

Difference between Dentist and Orthodontist

• Dentists and orthodontists are both doctors of teeth and oral care.  Yet, orthodontists are those dentists who have done an additional 2-3  year residency program in orthodontics.

  • During this residency training (and before they see patients in their practices) orthodontic specialists have supervised 100s of braces and Invisalign patients.
  • Many general dentists simply take weekend courses at hotels and immediately begin doing orthodontics and Invisalign.

• Less than 10% of dentists are qualified and licensed orthodontists.

 

*** Dr. Neal Jones attended BYU and graduated Magnum Cum Laude with a major in Zoology and minor in Business Management.  He then spent 5 years in Iowa City: 4 in dental school and 1 year working in the Oral Surgery Department.  Dr. Jones completed orthodontic training at the University at Buffalo’s 2.5-year highly rated orthodontic program, earning a Master’s Degree.