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What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in aligning teeth, thereby affecting facial balance. It comes from two Greek words: orthos, meaning to correct, and dons, meaning tooth. To have orthodontic treatment is to have corrected teeth. The practice of orthodontics requires professional judgment and skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to achieve facial balance.

How is an orthodontist different from a general dentist?
All orthodontists are dentists, but only about 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists. An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists must first attend college, and after completing a four-year dental graduate program at a dental school or other institution accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA), they must complete an additional two- to three-year residency program of advanced education in orthodontics. Through this additional training, the orthodontist learns the skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.

How can I benefit from orthodontic treatment?
Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This may contribute to conditions that cause not only tooth decay but also eventual gum disease and tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints, which can result in chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck.

In addition, the value of an attractive smile can’t be underestimated or quantified. A pleasing smile and appearance contributes to one’s self-confidence and self esteem. Orthodontic treatment can benefit social and career success, as well as improve one’s general attitude toward life.

At what age can people have orthodontic treatment?
Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics, because healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age. Because monitoring growth and development is crucial to managing some orthodontic problems well, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7. Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if treated early. Waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction of some problems more difficult.

What causes orthodontic problems (malocclusions)?
Most malocclusions are inherited, but some are acquired. Inherited problems may include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra or missing teeth, and a wide variety of other irregularities of the jaws, teeth and face.

Acquired malocclusions can be caused by trauma to the jaw area, thumb, finger or pacifier sucking, airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids, dental disease or premature loss of primary (baby) or permanent teeth. Whether inherited or acquired, many of these problems affect not only alignment of the teeth but also facial development and appearance as well.

How do I know if my child needs braces?
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends the first screening of all children by age 7. Many orthodontic problems can easily be corrected if detected early rather than later when jaw growth has slowed or stopped.

What are the benefits of early intervention?
Early treatment has many potential benefits including the opportunity to:

  • guide the growth of the jaw,
  • regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches (the arch-shaped jaw bone that supports the teeth),
  • guide incoming permanent teeth into desirable positions,
  • lower risk of trauma (accidents) to protruded upper incisors (front teeth),
  • correct harmful oral habits such as thumb- or finger-sucking,
  • reduce or eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems,
  • improve personal appearance and self-esteem,
  • potentially simplify and/or shorten treatment time for later corrective orthodontics,
  • reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth (teeth that should have come in, but have not), and
  • preserve or gain space for permanent teeth that are coming in.

I am an adult. Can I still get braces?
According to the American Association of Orthodontics, more than 30% of orthodontic patients these days are over 18 years old. An improper bite, overcrowding and crooked teeth are now being corrected regardless of age. Adult bones are no longer growing and so treatment period may be longer than for young patients. Fortunately, there are now many choices in types of braces for adults including less visible ceramic braces and Invisalign aligners (www.invisalign.com), a nearly invisible, state-of-the-art alternative for adults.

What are Invisalign aligners? http://www.invisalign.com
Designed for adults, Aligners are clear, customized, removable retainers that straighten teeth without the need for permanent braces. With advanced computer technology, a series of finely calibrated aligners are made for the patient. Dr. Park can determine if this treatment is an effective alternative to traditional braces for adults.

How long will orthodontic treatment take?
In general, treatment time ranges from one to three years. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take only a few months. The actual time depends on the growth of the patient’s mouth and face, the cooperation of the patient and the severity of the problem. Mild problems usually require less time, and some individuals respond faster to treatment than others. Use of rubber bands and/or headgear, if prescribed by the orthodontist, contributes to completing treatment as scheduled. While orthodontic treatment requires a time commitment, patients are rewarded with healthy teeth, proper jaw alignment and a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.

Do you offer clear braces?
Yes. We offer transparent ceramic braces that have the reliability of metal braces and the attractive, less noticeable appearance of retainers.

Do you use recycled braces?
No! All of our supplies are new.

Are your instruments sterilized?
Absolutely! We follow all of the American Dental Association (www.ada.org) and OSHA guidelines.

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