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About Orthodontics

Orthodontics, ortho meaning straight and dontics meaning teeth, refers to the science involved with straightening teeth. However the specialty of Orthodontics is much more than that. The correct title for the specialty is: Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. 

This title implies that the orthodontist is just not involved with straightening teeth but with orthopedically positioning them in the skull to achieve the best balanced facial esthetics and dental stability for long lasting results. It is for this reason that the specialty is most generally a three year program at most dental programs. 

An orthodontist is not only a dentist but also someone who has continued to further his knowledge in the field of facial growth and development, statistics, occlusion and biomechanics. Orthodontists are most usually dentists who have graduated from the top of their class.

Goals and Benefits of Treatment

The goal of an orthodontist is to take a bad bite and correct it creating a great smile that is stable thus requiring little retention in time. This implies that after a certain period of retention teeth should remain pretty much in their position with little supervision. A good number of cases treated in an orthodontic office lend themselves for stable results however; this is not true for all cases. Like people who have difficulty staying trim, some cases require greater maintenance than others to maintain that great appearance. 

Additionally, your teeth are easier to clean and more resistant to gum disease. Perhaps most importantly, orthodontic treatment almost always provides improved self-confidence.

How Does Treatment Work?

Each patient’s orthodontic condition requires a treatment plan based on a specialized diagnosis of the case. The treatment process involves X-rays, dental impressions and photographs. Braces have one aim: to use gentle pressure to move teeth into proper alignment. Treatment time varies depending on age, patient compliance and the severity of the condition. Generally, treatment lasts for 24 months and is facilitated by ideal patient cooperation.

What’s New in Orthodontics

Orthodontics is more popular than ever. This popularity is due to the overwhelming success of improved treatments and technology. New technology has allowed us to produce our results with fewer visits and shortened treatment times. In some cases, we can eliminate months of treatment time for individuals. One example of recent improvements is nickel-titanium-alloy archwires. These wires have almost replaced the initial traditional stainless steel wires used for initial alignment of teeth. This new technology provides our patients with a temperature-sensitive wire that allows for continuous movement of the teeth over longer periods of time. For our patients, this means enhanced comfort, sometimes decreased treatment time and fewer trips to the orthodontist.

Though self-ligation has been in existence for 30 years progressive practices have finally found the advantages of this type of approach to tying in the wires to the braces. Today more and more companies are coming out with self-ligating braces. The advantages for the patient are shorted chair times, longer time between appointments and a shorter treatment times. This is due to the fact that self-ligating braces produce much less friction between the wire and the braces. 

Cosmetic improvements are also on the forefront of advances in orthodontics. For patients who do not want to show metal ceramic braces is the choice. A ceramic brace is a translucent material that camouflages the brackets on your teeth. Today, ceramic brackets more durable than older-style ceramic braces. The brackets bond directly to the teeth. If you are looking for braces without the “metal-mouth” appearance, you may want to consider clear ceramic braces. 

The latest in braces are the braces behind the teeth, lingual braces. These braces are totally invisible and they function as well as the regular braces allowing the orthodontist to achieve the same results as with regular braces. Both children and adults can be treated with these braces. Most recently companies have developed self-ligating braces from behind the teeth. If you are concerned with appearance this is the only way you can get your can straighten teeth and not show anything.  Dr. Samuel is one of the pioneers in this area and has practiced this technique successfully for over twenty years. He is world recognized in this specialty of orthodontics. 

As an adjunct to cosmetic orthodontics most recently several systems have come in the market with the intent to resolve some of the problems in orthodontics using clear, plastic aligners. There are two prevalent companies in the market today, Invisalign® and Ortho Clear. They both use 3-D computer imaging technology to generate the series of clear retainers that are to straighten teeth. These appliances are very much in their infancy of development and do render acceptable result for selected cases but do not render the types of results demanded by the AAO. These appliances are NOT totally invisible as advertised but definitely comfortable. More than with traditional braces, patient compliance is a huge factor in achieving results. There are other types of clear, plastic aligners that are used even for more limited considerations in tooth movement than Invisalign® and OrthoClear. These are the Red-White and Blue system and the Essix Appliance.

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