At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. It is recommended that a child be examined by an orthodontist at age seven if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist or the child's physician. Early interceptive treatment may be indicated for a child which can help avoid serious dental or facial problems in the future. Many other orthodontic cases are started once most or all of the adult teeth have erupted. This usually occurs between the ages of ten to13 in both boys and girls.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment which occurs before all of the adult teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of seven and ten.This treatment is recommended to make space for developing teeth, correction of cross bites, overbites, and underbites and the elimination of harmful oral habits such as thumb/finger sucking and tongue thrusts.

Phase II treatment, or comprehensive treatment, occurs once most or all of the adult teeth have erupted and usually involves full braces. Successful Phase I treatment often leads to simple Phase II treatment with less likelihood of adult tooth extractions. Sometimes, Phase II treatment can even be avoided.

Am I too old for braces?

Orthodontic treatment can give anybody, of any age, a beautiful, healthy smile. At Dr.Steiman's office, three out of every ten patients are adults over the age of 21. With continued growth in dental technology, adults can take advantage of practically invisible tooth moving devices. Together with faster bonding techniques, more efficient wires and shorter adjustment times, more adults are encouraged to seek treatment for themselves.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Teeth sit in living jaw bone. A light, constant force placed on a tooth can make it move through this bone just like your hand moving through water. Braces are bonded to teeth so that they can transfer the light force from the wire to the tooth. Springs activated on retainers can transfer forces directly to the teeth. These gentle pressures gradually move the teeth to their corrected position.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment time varies from patient to patient, however the average time for comprehensive (full braces) is 18-24 months. Adult treatment usually takes 24-30 months because it takes a bit longer to move teeth with their increased bone density. The actual treatment time is affected by many factors. These include growth rate, severity of the dental problem, oral hygiene, attending Dr. Steiman's office regularly for adjustment appointments and device breakages. Most importantly, following Dr. Steiman's instructions regarding proper wear of orthodontic devices is critical to keeping treatment time on schedule.

Do braces hurt?

Absolutely NOT! Putting on braces and bands does not hurt at all. There are no needles or freezing involved. When your teeth move for the first time, they will feel very "weird" or "sore" for the first two to four days. In adults, this weird feeling can last up to a week. This sore feeling occurs because the teeth are moving for the very first time. It is not a pinching type of discomfort, but more of a dull ache. This is completely normal and happens to everyone. After most adjustment appointments, patients feel some pressure on their teeth, but only for a few hours. In any case, soft foods and pain relievers, such as Advil or Tylenol, are recommended.

Your lips and/or cheeks may need a week to get used to your braces. That is because it is something new in your mouth and the oral cavity is one of the most sensitive areas of the body. A package of soft wax is given to every patient. This wax can be placed on top of the brace to shield the inside of the lip/cheek until the patient is accustomed to the new devices.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

Absolutely NOT! However, Dr. Steiman strongly recommends that his patients wear mouthguards to protect their teeth and smiles while playing contact sports. Complimentary orthodontic mouthguards are provided for all our patients. These mouthguards are approved by all leagues, are comfortable and allow your teeth to move while they are being worn. Custom-fitted mouthguards can be obtained from your family dentist after the braces are removed.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

Absolutely NOT! A patient can play any instrument he or she desires while having orthodontic treatment. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment to the pressure of the braces on your lips and cheeks.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces on?

Absolutely YES! Every patient should continue to see their family dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings every six to nine months. Should the patient have oral hygiene difficulties, then three-month checkups may be necessary. Occasionally, your family dentist will be asked to take X-rays of certain teeth so that Dr. Steiman can monitor specific tooth movements and positions. Dr. Steiman and your family dentist work as a team in providing and maintaining your optimal oral health.