At Potomac Pediatric Dentistry, we have many options for patients who want a beautiful smile.
At Potomac Pediatric Dentistry, our Dumfries orthodontists can give our patients a beautiful smile through our orthodontic services. We offer a wide selection of braces to help you accomplish your goals of straighter teeth, a better bite, and a healthier, gorgeous smile.
Early Preventative Care
What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment, and why might my child need early treatment? How will early treatment benefit my child in the long run?
These are some of the questions of early orthodontic treatment for children. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven. At this point, the orthodontist will evaluate whether your child will need orthodontic treatment.
Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine, with Phase Two beginning around age 11 or older. The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future.
How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Your child continues sucking his or her thumb after age five
- Speech impediments
- Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
- Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner or even at all
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early prevention benefit my child?
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.
If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentistry to visit the orthodontist Dumfries VA, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child’s smile.
Braces are viewed today almost as a rite of passage for modern teens. The method, now perfected, has proven to be highly effective for helping teens — and adults alike, achieve straighter smiles.
Braces technology has evolved other the years, allowing for strong bonding materials, barely visible options, and a little discomfort in the process of straightening teeth.
Our Dumfries orthodontist Dr. Zahra can consult with you and your teen on the best course of action for treatment. Schedule your visit today or keep reading to learn more about our orthodontic treatment options.
How Braces Work
Braces are comprised of many components all working together to help you achieve a healthier, straighter, and more beautiful smile. Depending on the type of braces, these parts may include:
Made of metal or ceramic and bonded to each, individual tooth.
This is a thin metal wire running through the brackets. This wire is what applies pressure to your teeth to encourage them to shift into proper alignment. Precise bends in the archwire can help to achieve specific adjustments, such as encouraging a tooth too far forward to move back, into alignment with the teeth surrounding it or even shifting a twisted tooth so that it faces the way it should.
As the name implies, these are elastic rings that hold the archwires to the individual brackets. These ties are changed during each follow-up visit to as your orthodontist makes adjustments to encourage specific results.
Primarily used to help adjust bite alignment issues (underbites, overbites, etc.), you may use rubber bands attached via hooks attached to your brackets to create added pressure necessary to shift the jaw into proper alignment.
These elements work in tangent to apply pressure in precise locations within your mouth, shifting your teeth into alignment. Depending on the severity of your misalignment, crooked teeth, gaps, overbite, or underbite, it could take longer or shorter amounts of time to make the required adjustments.
What To Expect With Braces
Because the process of straightening your teeth, closing a tooth gap or correcting an overbite or underbite can take time, it’s natural to want to understand the overall braces process.
To begin, our orthodontist, Dr. Zahra Heidari, takes an impression of your upper and lower arch on your first braces evaluation visit. To get an impression of your teeth, you’ll bite down into a tray of “goo,” called alginate, and hold it long enough for an impression.
Then, we use the alginate impression to form into a three-dimensional mold of your smile based on the impression. We use this model of your smile to formulate an effective treatment plan and to understand how best to progress with perfecting your smile.
Dental Cleaning Before Braces
Before you get braces, you’ll need to have an extensive dental cleaning. We’ll provide you with pointed instructions about the importance of outstanding oral hygiene during your orthodontic treatment. This includes brushing your teeth with electric and manual toothbrushes and flossing daily. We strongly encourage you to receive regular dental cleanings at six-month intervals throughout your orthodontic treatment.
Type of Braces Determine Speed of Treatment
The types of braces you choose also impact how quickly your teeth will move into place. Most people feel some initial soreness in the jaw following the initial procedure and after each subsequent adjustment. This soreness usually lasts only a few days and can easily be treated with over-the-counter medications if they are even necessary at all.
Extra Appliances May Be Needed
While many patients will only need braces, there may be some occasions when other dental appliances are warranted to supplement the treatment to reposition your teeth, in addition to braces. We will discuss this with you should it become necessary.
Types of Braces
There are three main types of braces available today, each one offering unique strengths and weaknesses to those who choose them.
Perhaps the most cost-effective option for orthodontic treatment, traditional metal braces are highly effective for moving teeth. With all the technological advances of the last 120+ years, the mechanics of braces have remained largely unchanged. Simply put, they are very effective at what they do.
While they are the most noticeable type of braces, younger teens enjoy the ability to use colored bands for a touch of fun in the process and the opportunity to choose the color allows them to express themselves. Plus, many teens simply appreciate the opportunity to have a “voice” in the process that colored bands allow.
Clear braces, also called ceramic braces, deliver a discrete teeth straightening or alignment treatment experience. They may cost slightly more than metal braces, but offer benefits many consider well worth the investment. Because clear braces are less noticeable than metal braces, they are the clear choices for adults (or teens) needing braces who don’t want to wear traditional wire-and-bracket orthodontic hardware.
Though they are not always “clear,” some are tooth-colored. Instead, they are consistently made of ceramic. Because they are tooth-colored, they are less visible. However, clear braces and ceramic braces still contain a wire to connect the braces.
However, clear braces have some drawbacks to consider. One of the most noteworthy factors is that they can stain easily, which is a consideration for regular coffee or wine drinkers. It means clear braces may require dietary constraints and limitations than metal braces do.
Note that Invisalign braces are similar to clear braces in that they both are more difficult to detect than metal braces. However, Invisalign braces can be removed, unlike clear, ceramic braces. Also, Invisalign clear aligners are virtually transparent.
Orthodontic appliances are tools our Dumfries orthodontist may use to help braces straighten teeth or address other alignment issues more effectively.
Some orthodontic appliances help to prepare your mouth for braces before your treatment begins, while others are used after braces treatment ends.
What Are Orthodontic Appliances For?
Orthodontic treatment often extends beyond the wires and brackets that serve to move teeth. The treatment itself goes far beyond what you see on the surface of the smile in that orthodontic appliances can help to reshape the face and jaw during the orthodontic treatment process.
Types of Appliances
There are several types of orthodontic appliances the team at Potomac Pediatric Dentistry may use to help you accomplish your goals of straighter teeth and a healthy, confident smile. Some appliances are fixed, meaning they cannot be removed or reapplied without the assistance of your orthodontist, while others are removable. These are some of the types of orthodontic appliance you may need to aid in the process.
Removable elastic bands help to address bite issues while your braces are straightening your teeth. The orthodontist attaches mounts at specific locations along your upper and lower brackets where you apply them daily. The location of the mounts may move as your bite progresses along with the size of the elastics. Smaller elastics create greater pressure for fine-tuning. For an element of fun and fashion, elastics come in a variety of colors, and you can choose the colors you prefer.
Another removable device, the headgear, addresses structural issues that would otherwise prevent the upper and lower teeth from fitting together. The headgear is usually only worn during the evening and overnight while sleeping so it doesn’t interfere with school, work, or social activities.
A palatal expander is a fixed device attached to the upper teeth, with cement, to widen the jaw and create space for crowded teeth. While the palate extender is turned daily over a period of two to four weeks (in most cases) to achieve the desired width, it remains in place five to ten months to help stabilize these changes. You will likely experience some pressure in your teeth, jaw, and nose when turning the expansion screws. This usually goes away within 30 minutes or so.
True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they occur we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call our office when you experience severe pain or have a painful appliance problem you can't take care of yourself. We'll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.
You Can Often Solve Orthodontic Problems
You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to solve many problems yourself temporarily until you can get to our office. If there is a loose piece that you can remove, put it in a plastic bag or envelope and bring it with you to your next appointment. If your braces are poking you, put soft wax on the piece that's sticking out. If the wire has slid to one side, you can pull it back to the other side with needle-nosed pliers, replacing it in the tube on the back tooth.
After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions to your treatment plan.
When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth, and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Stick to a soft diet until your teeth do not hurt to chew. Irritated gums and other sore spots can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for a headache or similar pain. Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen Sodium (Naprosyn, Anaprox) actually slow the tooth movement, so it is not advisable to use them frequently while wearing braces.
The lips, cheeks, and tongue may become irritated for one to two weeks as they learn a new posture and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We'll show you how!
Sometimes discomfort is caused by not wearing the headgear as instructed by your orthodontist. Please refer to the instructions provided by your orthodontist. If the facebow (metal piece) is bent, please call our office for assistance. The headgear should hurt less the more it's worn, so be sure you get in the prescribed number of hours.
If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the offending part.
If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it if needed for comfort. If the bracket or band can be removed easily, place it in an envelope and save it to bring to your next appointment.
Using a pair of tweezers or needle-nosed pliers, try to put your wire back into place. It is okay to use a piece of floss to tie the wire into place: tie the floss around the bracket in place of the missing colored o-ring. If you cannot put the wire into a comfortable position, and covering the end with wax doesn't help, as a last resort use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If the end of the wire is still sharp place wax on it.
Using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax on it so that it is no longer poking.