Orthodontic FAQs Mt Airy, MD

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental irregularities. Tooth movement is accomplished by light pressure exerted on the teeth. The pressure is applied by a variety of orthodontic appliances. These appliances have progressed by use of space aged research to apply gentle forces over the course of treatment.

What Causes Orthodontic Problems?

Most orthodontic problems are inherited. Examples of these genetic problems are crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth and some jaw growth problems. Some malocclusions develop over time and can be caused by thumb sucking, mouth breathing, dental disease, the early or late loss of primary teeth, accidents, poor nutrition, or some medical problems. Usually an orthodontist is able to treat all conditions successfully. Usually an orthodontist is able to treat all conditions successfully.

When Should You See an Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for children by the age of 7 years or earlier if an orthodontic problem is detected by parents, family dentist or physician. By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are present. That’s important, because some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if they are found early. Dr. Sheer is the specialist who has the knowledge to determine when the time for treatment is ideal for each patient.

What are the Advantages of Early Interceptive Treatment?

In some cases, Dr. Sheer might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment. Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing, and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. Some of the most direct results of early interceptive treatment are:

  • creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
  • lowering the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • reducing the need for tooth removal
  • improve the way lips meet
  • improve appearance and self-esteem
  • reducing treatment time in braces

Are You a Candidate for Orthodontic Treatment?

Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile. Some signs that your bite might not be right:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting habits
  • Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
  • Jaws that are too far forward to back
  • Protruding teeth
  • An unbalanced facial appearance
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Upper and lower teeth that do not meet

Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile–it creates a healthier you!

How do Teeth Move?

Tooth movement is a natural response to light pressure over a period of time. Pressure is applied by using a variety of orthodontic hardware (appliances), the most common being a brace or bracket attached to the teeth and connected by an arch wire. Periodic changing of these arch wires puts pressure on the teeth. At different stages of treatment your child may wear a headgear, elastics, a positioner or a retainer. Most orthodontic appointments are scheduled 4 to 6 weeks apart to give the teeth time to move.

Will it Hurt?

When teeth are first moved, discomfort may result. This usually lasts about 24 to 72 hours. Patients report a lessening of pain as the treatment progresses. Pain medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) usually help relieve the pain.

How Long Does Treatment Usually Take?

Although every case is different, patients wear braces from one to two years. Treatment times vary with factors that include the severity of the problem being corrected and how well the patient follows instructions.

Patients who brush and floss thoroughly and regularly; avoid hard and sticky foods; wear their rubber bands and/or headgear as instructed; and keep their scheduled appointments usually finish treatment on-time with exceptional results. Patients remain under Dr. Sheer’s care during the retention phase.

Do I Stay with My Child During the Visit?

We strive to make each visit pleasant for every patient. We realize that each child has different needs and anxieties and therefore we have an Open Door Policy. We know that most children are more comfortable when a parent is with them. Parents are welcome to come into the treatment areas and stay with their child during the entire appointment. Although there are times when having the parent wait in the waiting room will help the child focus on the task at hand, we understand that usually the parent wants to be with their child. We also want you to feel comfortable allowing your child to accompany our team through the entire experience if and when they are ready to do so independently.

How are Appointments Scheduled?

We would like to see all school-age patients after school: however, this is not possible. We are aware of school policies which make it more difficult for children to be out of school for any reason. However, MEDICAL and DENTAL appointments are EXCUSED ABSENCES with a doctor’s school pass and signature stating the child was in the office. We will be happy to provide that for you at your request. Missing school can be kept to a minimum when regular dental care is continued.

The office attempts to schedule appointments at your convenience and when time is available. Preschool children should be seen in the morning because they are fresher and we can work more slowly with them for their comfort. School children with a lot of work to be done should be seen in the morning for the same reason. Since appointed times are reserved exclusively for each patient we ask that you please notify our office 24 hours in advance of your scheduled appointment time if you are unable to keep your appointment. Another patient, who needs our care, could be scheduled if we have sufficient time to notify them. We realize that unexpected things can happen, but we ask for your assistance in this regard.