Frequently Asked Questions
What does orthodontics mean and how is an orthodontist different than a dentist?
Orthodontics is a special type of dentistry that focuses on the treatment and prevention of dental irregularities. This discipline technically addresses “malocclusions” or “bad bites.” Orthodontics includes addressing concerns with the design and application of corrective solutions like braces in an effort to align the teeth and jaw.
Orthodontists have completed additional school and training to specifically address concerns with tooth alignment. While your dentist will be able to help you with cleanings, fillings, and general oral care, your orthodontist will be able to help you align your teeth and achieve the beautiful smile you have always wanted.
Why is it so important to visit an orthodontist?
Crooked, spaced or over-crowded teeth are not only distracting, but they can be difficult to clean and care for, resulting in additional issues with tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss. When left uncorrected, orthodontic issues can also contribute to abnormal wear of the teeth, gum tissue stress, and even bone damage that can lead to additional health concerns.
Avoid these issues by seeing a trained orthodontic specialist who can create a treatment plan designed specifically for you.
What problems can orthodontic treatments address?
Orthodontic treatment can correct a number of issues including problems with:
Crowding is an issue regarding poor teeth alignment, often due to a small jaw, or when teeth are too large to fit in the available space. Crowded teeth not only create a poor bite, and undesirable look but they can also impact the bones and gums surrounding these teeth.
When teeth are small, missing, or unable to fill the dental arch, spacing can occur between the teeth. These teeth can not only be unsightly, but difficult to clean and maintain as well.
Overjet (Protruding Upper Teeth)
Overjet occurs when the top front teeth protrude or stick out. This can cause bite issues, problems with jaw growth, and can put the teeth at risk for injury.
Overbite, or deep bite, occurs when the lower front teeth touch the gum tissue behind the upper teeth. This can cause discomfort and serious bone/gum damage.
When the upper and lower front teeth do not touch during biting, this is called an open bite. This can cause excessive pressure on the back teeth and can cause significant wear and damage.
A crossbite is when a top tooth or group of top teeth bite inside the bottom teeth. It can impact both the back teeth and the front teeth, and should be corrected early. When left untreated, it can cause serious chewing/jaw challenges.
When the lower jaw protrudes significantly more than the upper jaw, it can create an underbite, which can cause teeth wear and issues with chewing. In childhood cases, at times, jaw growth can be monitored to see if the issue can resolve itself, or if early treatment is needed.
Why do I need orthodontic checkups?
Orthodontic checkups are important, particularly in young people because they can identify current issues and help avoid problems before they have a chance to occur. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children as young as seven years old should come in for a checkup to ensure issues that can cause injury, chewing problems, or bone damage are not forming.
What are some signs that my child may need an early orthodontic exam?
Some children need orthodontic exams early on in life. Typically, these are children who have one or more of the following habits or characteristics, as these habits can cause serious issues with jaw and tooth development:
- Difficulty chewing
- Mouth breathing
- Excessive thumb or finger sucking
- Late loss of baby teeth or early loss of baby teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Habits with cheek biting
- Abnormally placed teeth
- Disproportionally sized jaws
- Jaw shifting or noise
These are all signs that your child may need an early orthodontic exam. The earlier you can catch these issues and address them, the better off your child will be.
Is my child old enough for orthodontic treatments?
Here at Galkin Orthodontics, it is our goal to help treat the entire family, including little ones. We know that both adults and kids can benefit from orthodontic treatments. We recommend your child comes in for their first check up around age seven, unless you see signs for concern at an earlier age. Treatment is typically faster and more effective when we have the opportunity to treat orthodontic issues before facial growth is complete or before permanent teeth come in.