Dr. Tierney is pleased to answer the many orthodontic related questions of her patients from Garden City and Nassau County. This section provides questions and answers for many frequently asked questions. If you have a question, please submit it to us via our contact form.
Why is it important to straighten teeth?
Straight teeth help an individual to effectively bite, chew and speak. Straight teeth contribute to healthy teeth and gums. Properly aligned teeth and jaws may alleviate or prevent physical health problems. Teeth that work better also tend to look better. An attractive smile is a pleasant “side effect” of orthodontic treatment.
An attractive smile is a wonderful asset. It contributes to self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image—important qualities at every age.
From what age can children receive orthodontic treatment for children?
Some children as early as 5 or 6 years of age may benefit from an orthodontic evaluation. Although treatment is unusual at this early age, some preventative treatment may be indicated.
Is orthodontic treatment viable for adults?
Today, orthodontic treatment is a viable option for almost any adult. It is well recognized that when left untreated, many orthodontic problems may become worse. When you have a malocclusion (“bad bite”), your teeth may be crowded, excessively spaced or may not fit together correctly. Such conditions may lead to dental health problems. Crowded teeth are hard to clean and, given time, may contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and even tooth loss. Bad bites can also result in abnormal wearing of tooth surfaces (see photo below), difficulty chewing and damage to supporting bone and gum tissue. Poorly aligned teeth can contribute to pain in the jaw joints.
You’ll be pleased to learn that orthodontic treatment will fit in with your current lifestyle – you can sing, play a musical instrument, dine out, kiss, and even have your picture taken. One in five orthodontic patients is an adult.
How long will my orthodontic treatment take?
The length of treatment varies depending on the complexity of the orthodontic problem that requires correction, growth and tissue response to treatment as well as the level of patient cooperation during their treatment. Orthodontic care requires a team approach in which the family dentist, the orthodontist and the patient play key roles that can impact the length of treatment and the quality of the end result. Generally, the length of comprehensive orthodontic treatment can range from approximately 18 months to 30 months, depending on treatment options and individual characteristics.
How are teeth moved by orthodontic treatment?
Teeth respond to the gentle forces that are applied to them. “Braces” are a combination of “brackets” and “wires”. Brackets are the part of the braces that attach to the teeth. Brackets are the “handles” that help control movement of the teeth. Braces require a wire called an “archwire” that connects the brackets and provides the forces to steer the teeth in the proper direction. It’s actually the wires that move teeth. The interaction of brackets and archwires enables the orthodontist to have three-dimensional control over the movement of the teeth. In many cases, additional forces are needed to help balance the underlying jaw structure and to help the upper and lower teeth fit properly together to make the bite right.
How do I take care of my orthodontic braces?
Extra time is needed with toothbrushing to make sure that all areas around the braces have been cleaned properly. Specialized brush tips are available to help get in between the braces and under the wires. Floss-threaders are helpful in passing floss under archwires to facilitate flossing of the teeth. Oral irrigators are often helpful to dislodge food debris from around the teeth. Over-the-counter mouth rinses can be used in conjunction with oral irrigators to help reduce the level of bacteria around the teeth.
How is an Orthodontist different from a General dentist?
Just as there are specialists in medicine (such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists, neurologists, etc.), there are specialists in dentistry. Orthodontists are dental specialists who dedicate their professional lives to correcting misaligned teeth and jaws.
Orthodontists are qualified dentists, who after graduating from dental school, go on to additional full-time university-based education in an accredited orthodontic residency program supervised by orthodontists.
Are orthodontic braces only for children?
Braces are not only for kids. Presently, 20% of the orthodontic patients are over 18; people as old as 60 have had successful orthodontic treatment.
What are the benefits of early orthodontic treatment?
Early treatment provides the opportunity to:
- Guide the growth of the young jaw bones creating a better environment for those new emerging permanent teeth
- Guide incoming teeth into optimal positions
- Regulate the width of the jaws
- Lower the risk of trauma to prominent front teeth
- Correct harmful sucking habits
- Reduce the likelihood of teeth becoming stuck or impacted under the gums
- Preserve or gain space for arriving permanent teeth
How long do you have to wear braces?
That depends a lot on you and how bad your bite is to begin with. Complex/severe bad bites take longer. The national average is 27 months. The better you are following Dr.Tierney's instructions and taking care of your braces, the sooner your teeth will improve.