Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain, and can result in tooth decay, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to the abnormal wear of teeth, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, and misalignment of the jaw joints.
Very few cases are treated strictly for cosmetic reasons. Almost all cases have a functional or bite component that requires correction. The esthetic benefit is a great bonus!
Treatment by an Orthodontist not only helps you avoid many of these issues, it can be less costly than the additional care required for treating dental problems arising as a result of orthodontic problems.
For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. As your teeth align and especially after your active treatment is completed, you'll feel more self-confident and want to smile more.
Orthodontics for Children
Dr. Bibby, and both the Canadian and American Associations of Orthodontists, recommend the first orthodontic screening around age seven to assess if there are orthodontic concerns and to determine the best time for the patient to be treated. The first permanent molars and incisors have usually come in by that time and cross bites, crowding, and jaw alignment problems can be evaluated. When treatment is initiated at an early age, the orthodontist can help guide the growth of the jaw and the eruption of the incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth (often avoiding the need for permanent tooth extractions and reducing the likelihood of impacted teeth), correct thumb-sucking, and improve abnormal swallowing or speech problems. Because of this, Early (Phase I) treatment will usually simplify and/or shorten definitive (Phase II) treatment.
Orthodontics for Adults and Late Teens
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. Some of our adult patients have seen the great results of orthodontics within their families and finally decide it's time to do something for themselves! One of every five patients in orthodontic treatment is over 21. Frequently we work together with your General Dentist or other Dental Specialists, to place the teeth in an optimal position for implants, crowns or veneers. This allows for the best overall result.
With advances in technology, there are even more options available to adult patients than ever, including Invisalign where your teeth are straightened by a series of clear Aligners. Aligners, which are almost invisable, can be removed for eating, brushing and flossing, making them a comfortable and hygienic treatment option.
If braces are recommended as the most effective treatment for you, we offer a very esthetic option of clear Innovation brackets for the upper teeth. Improvements in technology also mean that we do not have to use elastic donuts or ties on the clear brackets, so staining is minimized. The new self-ligating brackets are also smaller and more efficient at moving the teeth, so your treatment can be completed as comfortably and quickly as possible.
Adults have frequently experienced some breakdown or loss of their teeth and bone support and therefore may require periodontal treatment before, during or after orthodontic treatment. It is also advisable to have a full checkup & cleaning before treatment begins, along with any recommended dental work. Dr. Bibby recommends our adult patients be monitored on a 3-4 monthly schedule by a hygienist during active treatment. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable.
Dr. Bibby may recommend jaw surgery for some adult patients to achieve the best appearance and bite function. If the jaws are misaligned on adult patients a surgical option may be the only way to achieve facial balance and stability of the orthodontic correction.
How Orthodontics Works
Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic or acrylic. They may be removable (eg INVISALIGN®) or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth through the supporting bone into a corrected position. The improved alignment must be supported by the use of retainers, which are very effective at holding the correction if used as directed.
This is a great time to wear braces! Gone are the days when a metal band was placed around each tooth. You can choose brackets that are clear or silver color. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be, and we offer the latest bracket technology (self-ligation) to move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients.
Duration of Treatment
Treatment time estimates typically range from one to three years, depending on tooth eruption, growth of the patient, and the severity of the problem. Patients will respond uniquely to orthodontic treatment, and so the time for case completion may differ from the original estimate, particularly if there are compliance concerns.
Watching for foods that can break braces, and the patient's diligent use of any prescribed rubber bands (elastics) or headgear are the most important factors in achieving timely treatment completion. Patient non-compliance is the #1 reason treatment extends past the target date. Successful orthodontics is a partnership between the Patient and the Orthodontist.