What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the slow, controlled movement of teeth into a more ideal position. While cosmetic improvements may often be the motivation to begin orthodontic treatment, there are benefits to your oral health as well. Dr. Jeffrey Kearney provides orthodontics at his Cary office, including traditional braces and Invisalign®. To learn more teeth straightening options available from Dr. Kearney, contact us today.
Orthodontics can benefit your health in several ways. First, straight, well aligned teeth are easier to keep clean with brushing and flossing. Crowded, crooked teeth provide more hiding places for food particles, plaque, and bacteria. This can result in a higher probability for cavities and/or gum disease.
Secondly, poorly aligned teeth often result in a poor or improper bite relationship. Over time, a poor bite will often lead to TMJ, or (jaw joint) disorders, also known as Temporomandibular disorder, or TMD. Some of the most common signs or TMD are:
- Clicking, Popping, or Pain in the Jaw Joints
- Neck or Shoulder Aches
- Difficulty Chewing certain foods
More information on TMD
The ideal results of orthodontic treatment are straight, well aligned teeth that improve your appearance, but also provide a harmonious bite relationship that minimizes the possibility of TMD.
Am I a Candidate for Orthodontics?
Everyone is a candidate for orthodontic treatment regardless of age. You are never too old to make improvements to your smile or oral health! Generally speaking however, teens and pre-teens will normally have a better result due to the fact that they are still growing and developing.
People who wear braces must be diligent in ensuring that food particles and other debris do not get trapped in the network of brackets and wires. In addition, brackets can leave stains on enamel if the area surrounding them is not cleaned on a daily basis.
Daily oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing and rinsing are a necessity. Some people with orthodontic appliances can benefit from using water picks, which emit small pressurized bursts of water that can effectively rinse away such debris.
Another caveat: Braces and sticky foods don't mix. Crunchy snacks and chewy substances should be avoided at all costs because they can cause orthodontia to be loosened or damaged.
At What Age Should My Child be Evaluated for Orthodontic Treatment?
We assess each child's growth and development at each check-up even if they are very young (3-4 yrs. old). Typically, orthodontic treatment for children with minor to moderate problems begins once their permanent teeth have erupted, usually at 12 years of age. Children develop at different rates so the range of treatment initiation may be as young as 10 or as old as 14.
What if my Child has Severe Crowding or Misalignment at an Early Age?
In children that have more severe alignment problems, an early phase of treatment may be necessary. Most children with crowded teeth and bad bites have narrow arches and underdeveloped lower jaws, which most often can be corrected with functional appliances. Once the permanent first molars and permanent front teeth begin to erupt, usually around the age of 6, we can begin to get a better understanding as to the space needed for the remaining permanent teeth and how their face and bones are developing. While not typical, functional appliances can be used as early as the age of 4, if the upper jaw is to narrow and is having a negative effect on the child's breathing, speech, and hygiene. Functional appliances improve the skeletal relationship between the upper and lower jaw to aid in developing a healthy TMJ. They also develop the dental arches so that all the permanent teeth can erupt, which insures an outstanding profile, beautiful broad smile, and healthy jaw joints.
What are my Options for Straightening my Teeth?
Today, there are several options available for orthodontic treatment. Traditional metal wires and brackets, clear/ceramic brackets, and Invisalign are all options. Functional appliances can also be used in adults to develop the arch to a more normal shape and size before applying the braces. Of course, each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Dr. Kearney and his team will be happy to discuss each system and which one would be best for your individual situation.
What is Invisalign? Am I a good Candidate for Invisalign? Invisalign is an advanced system using a series of virtually invisible custom aligners to reposition your teeth into a beautiful smile you will be proud of. Invisalign aligners are easy to remove which makes brushing and flossing much easier compared to traditional braces. Invisalign may, or may not be the best option for you depending on your current dental condition and treatment goals. Dr. Kearney has been an Invisalign provider for nearly 10 years and will be happy to give you the information you need to help you make the best decision for you.
To learn more about our orthodontic services, contact Dr. Kearney's office to schedule an appointment today.