Orthodontic care can be a fundamental step in your journey to a beautiful, healthy smile. Braces and clear aligners such as Invisalign straighten and move your teeth to improve their function and appearance. Both braces and aligners work by using pressure over time to slowly move your teeth and their roots into their correct, aligned position.
Why do I need orthodontic care?
Orthodontic treatment is used to correct the misalignment or incorrect relation of the teeth in a patient’s upper jaw to the teeth in his or her lower jaw. The clinical word for this misalignment is called malocclusion. Untreated malocclusions can make good oral hygiene more difficult and have the potential to result in trauma to teeth, pain relating to the position of the jaw, and can even be the cause of problems with speech. The overall goal of orthodontic treatment is to improve function, aid speech, protect teeth from trauma, improve appearance, and conserve overall oral health.
What is the benefit of early treatment?
Some patients may benefit from early, or interceptive orthodontic treatment. We also call this “Phase 1” treatment. In some cases, seeking orthodontic care while a child is still in a rapid-growth stage of development can help make aligning the adult teeth easier once they have all come in. While your elementary school-aged child’s smile may appear perfect, Dr. Fulcher will be able to evaluate your child’s unique skeletal and dental development and determine whether he or she would benefit from Phase 1 treatment. Early correction of common issues such as narrow dental arches, crowding of baby teeth, lack of space for adult teeth, and issues with the relationship between your child’s upper and lower jaws (such as an underbite or overbite). This early intervention can potentially eliminate the need for extraction of healthy adult teeth later on, help ensure facial symmetry for your growing child’s jaw, and assist in preventing potential future dental trauma that might occur from problems with his or her bite. While a beautiful smile is certainly a result of orthodontic treatment, braces also help reduce certain dental issues that can occur later on in life.
At what age should my child see an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child have their first evaluation by an orthodontist around their seventh birthday. This is the ideal age to evaluate jaw relationship, the size and position of a child’s adult teeth and establish a treatment plan to correct any current or future oral related health issues. Not every child will need early orthodontic care, but having an evaluation early will help Dr. Fulcher determine the best course of treatment for your child. Even if your dentist has not recommended early orthodontic care, it is a good idea to have your child evaluated.
Orthodontics for Adults
Braces and Invisalign aren’t just for kids and teenagers! Seeking orthodontic care as an adult is extremely common. Millions of adults undergo treatment every year for a variety of reasons, including spacing, crowding, wear on teeth due to bite, jaw issues, and many more! The braces of today are much smaller and more comfortable than the braces many adults wore as teenagers. Do you have a space you don’t like, or a few teeth that are more crowded than you are comfortable with, but don’t want to fix it badly enough to wear braces? No problem! We also have the option of Invisalign clear aligners to help address those concerns. Whether you have never had braces or, like many adults, your teeth have shifted after previous treatment, Dr. Fulcher can help you achieve the beautiful, healthy, functional smile you deserve no matter what age you are!
Do braces and aligners require special care?
Now that you have braces or Invisalign, there are a few changes you will need to make in your daily routine to keep your teeth and gums happy and healthy throughout the process. Make sure to avoid eating specific foods, especially ones that are chewy, crunchy, sticky or hard. They can damage your braces and Invisalign attachments and can slow down your treatment time. Try to limit sugary foods as well, and always brush well after eating! You will be given a list of foods to avoid during treatment. You will need to continue to brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day to prevent tartar and plaque from building up around your brackets and damaging your teeth and gums. We will show you proper hygiene techniques so you can eliminate any food that could be stuck and your appliances clean and your mouth healthy.
If you are being treated with Invisalign, you will need to remove your trays when you eat and you should brush your teeth before placing the trays back into your mouth, if possible. Your Invisalign trays must be worn for at least 22 hours a day in order for them to move your teeth effectively. Be sure to take your case with you when you are out of your house so you don’t accidentally throw them away!
During orthodontic treatment, a bit of soreness and mouth irritation is normal. If you are experiencing soreness or irritation, you can use wax, over-the-counter pain relievers, and/or warm salt-water rinses to alleviate discomfort. If you are experiencing swelling, bleeding, or pain beyond soreness, please call the office and a staff member will assist you.
After you finish your active orthodontic treatment, you will be given a set of retainers to maintain your beautiful new, healthy smile! Retainers are used to keep your teeth aligned and in their new positions after your braces are removed or you are finished with your Invisalign trays. You will need to wear your retainers for the rest of your life, or at least as long as you want your teeth to stay aligned! Retainers are comfortable to wear and easy to include in your daily oral hygiene routine.
The day you get your braces off or complete your Invisalign treatment, Dr. Fulcher and the staff will instruct you on how to wear your retainers, and will show you how to care for them. If you take good care of your retainers, they should last for years to come! To care for your retainer, make sure to keep it clean, remove it when eating or drinking and keep it in its case when not in use. You will also need to protect your retainers from curious pets and extreme heat or pressure. If you lose or break a retainer, or if you have dental work performed, you need to replace your retainers as soon as possible! The longer you wait to replace them, the more chance your teeth have to move out of position and become misaligned again. Post-treatment shifting of teeth due to poor retainer wear can even result in the need for more braces to correct! Please call the office if you have any questions at all about retainer wear, maintenance or replacement.