Why Braces?

For most people, a beautiful, healthy, and functional smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. With an attractive smile, the whole is far more than the sum of its parts. A healthy and attractive smile can improve a person’s overall quality of life. According to recent polls, 99.7 % of people said that they believe a smile is an important social asset; 96 % of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex; and 74 % of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person’s chances for career success.  After your braces come off, you should feel more self-confident.

How orthodontic treatment works

Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to a corrected position. This is a great time to wear braces! Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can often choose brackets that are clear or metallic, and you can choose the color of the ties that hold the wire in brackets. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be, and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients. For those patients who want to even more conceal the fact that they are straightening their teeth, a technology called Invisalign (http://www.invisalign.com) straightens teeth by using a series of clear removable aligners that fit like a thin, tight mouth guard.

Duration of treatment

Treatment time typically ranges from one to three years, depending on the growth of the patient's mouth and face, and the severity of the problem. Patients grow at different rates and will respond variously to orthodontic treatment, so the time until case completion may differ slightly from the original estimate. The patient's diligent use of any prescribed rubber band wear or compliance with an appliance is an important factor in achieving the most efficient treatment. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take as few as six months.

Before Treatment - Will Teeth Need to be Removed?

On occasion, teeth may need to be extracted as part of your orthodontic treatment. Dr. Clarke will recommend removal only if it improves your prospects for successful treatment. Sometimes it may be necessary to remove certain teeth to assure sufficient space for the remaining teeth, to establish a proper “bite”, or to permit the desirable changes in facial appearance. The spaces caused by these extractions are closed during the orthodontic treatment.

Removal of Wisdom Teeth is often required. When the jaw is not large enough to accommodate these teeth, they will not come in properly and complications can develop. Dr. Clarke will provide guidance whether you are a candidate for wisdom teeth extraction. Wisdom teeth generally do not fit well in our mouths and they can cause other teeth to move, or can lead to gum disease or bone problems.

Orthodontic treatment can correct your “bite” problems, but it cannot reposition your jaws. Corrective jaw surgery may be required if the following conditions are present:

  • difficulty in chewing or swallowing
  • speech problems
  • chronic jaw pain
  • excessive wearing of teeth
  • facial injury or birth defects
  • unbalanced facial appearance
  • receding chin or protruding jaw
  • “open bite” (a space remains between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
  • chronic mouth breathing with dry mouth
  • sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping)

A complete evaluation of your condition through x-rays, photos, facial measurements, and dental impressions at our office will help in determining if surgery is required, and what the best course of treatment will be. If the combination of surgery with orthodontics is necessary to produce the best result, Dr. Clarke will make the diagnostic recommendations and treatment plan in conjunction with an oral surgeon.