Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program following dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development. Orthodontists first receive the same 4 years of dental school training as your primary care dentist. Dr. Leonard went on to an additional two years of full time graduate study in orthodontics and has over 30 years of practice experience as a full time orthodontist.
Any time you have a question or concern regarding your child’s dental development. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient may be able to avoid surgery and more serious complications. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the primary care dentist, or the child’s pediatrician.
As medicine and dentistry better understand the critical role of proper breathing to brain development, release of growth hormone and growth of the jaws, Dr Leonard is frequently asked to evaluate the airways of even younger children.
Phase I, or early treatment, can be limited orthodontic tooth movement, dental orthopedic correction of the jaws or a combination of both. Limited orthodontic tooth movement can be done with partial braces or specially designed removable appliances before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Dental orthopedic corrections are treatments to improve the relationships of the upper and lower jaws to each other. The appliances generally attach to the teeth, but are designed to transfer their action to the jaws. Such treatment often occurs between the ages of six and ten. These treatments are recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, large overjets, underbites or harmful oral habits.
Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment because it involves full braces or Invisalign when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of ten and thirteen.
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Twenty-five percent of orthodontic patients today are adults.
Orthodontists use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions.
With braces, the brackets that are placed on your teeth and the arch wire that connects them are the main components. When the arch wire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.
With Invisalign, a series of aligners (each one designed to move the teeth a small amount) gently move the teeth to their new positions.
Treatment times vary on a patient-by-patient basis. The average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time is affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.
The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the arch wires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.
No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.
No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.
YES! You should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.