The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children see an orthodontist by at least age seven and sooner if something is obviously wrong before age seven. Fortunately, most young patients don't need anything more than observation while the permanent teeth are growing into place.

Many young patients have problems, which will not, or should not wait. Most orthodontic problems are inherited and cannot be totally prevented; however something can usually be done before these problems become more difficult and more expensive to manage.

It is advisable to consult with an orthodontist prior to having your dentist remove any baby teeth or permanent teeth. To ensure the best overall dental and facial development, all patients should have an orthodontic consultation sometime between the ages of four and seven.

Dr. Bock offers early examinations and observation consultations. Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Classifications of Teeth

The classification of bites is divided into three main categories: Class I, II, and III. This classification refers to the position of the first molars, and how they fit together.

Class I
Class I is a normal relationship between the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws or balanced bite.


Class I normal



Class I crowding

 

Class I spacing
 

 

Class II
Class II is where the lower first molar is posterior (or more towards the back of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the upper front teeth and jaw project further forward than the lower teeth and jaw. There is a convex appearance in profile with a receding chin and lower lip. Class II problems can be due to insufficient growth of the lower jaw, an over growth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. In many cases, Class II problems are genetically inherited and can be aggravated by environmental factors such as finger sucking. Class II problems are treated via growth redirection to bring the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws into harmony.

 

 
Class II division 1

 
 
Class II division 2

 

 

Class III
Class III is where the lower first molar is anterior (or more towards the front of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the lower teeth and jaw project further forward than the upper teeth and jaws. There is a concave appearance in profile with a prominent chin. Class III problems are usually due to an overgrowth in the lower jaw, undergrowth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. Like Class II problems, they can be genetically inherited. Class III problems are usually treated via surgical correction of one or both jaws.

 
Class III functional or dental

 
 
Class III skeletal

 

 

Orthodontic Problems

 
Overjet
Upper front teeth protrude


 
 
Deep bite
Upper front teeth cover lower front teeth too much

 
 
Underbite
Lower front teeth protrude


 
 
Open bite
Back teeth are together with space between the front teeth


 

Crowding
Upper and/or lower teeth are crowded


 

Excess Spacing
There is excess space between teeth


 

Mid-Line Misalignment
Mid-lines of upper and lower arches do not line up

 

Crossbite
Upper back teeth fit inside lower teeth

Phases of Treatment

Phase I: Treatment usually takes 12 to 18 months and is done between the ages of 7-9. A variety of appliances may be used to correct specific problems.

Maintenance / Recall Phase: During the time between the first and second phase the patient will be seen every few months per year. This is to monitor the eruption of the permanent teeth and exfoliation of primary teeth.

Phase II (if required): During the first phase of treatment Dr. Bock has no control over 16 unerupted permanent teeth. If they grow in and problems still exist, further treatment, known as Phase II, will be required. A separate fee will be quoted at that time. Treatment usually takes 12-24 months.

Full Treatment: If you decide to wait, treatment will be started when all permanent teeth have erupted. Full treatment usually takes 18-30 months. The length of treatment depends on the severity of malocclusion and orthodontic problems.

Proper Braces Care and Brushing Techniques

Brushing and flossing your teeth can be challenging when wearing braces but it is extremely important that you do both consistently and thoroughly.

 
 
 


Foods to Avoid During Treatment: Eating proper foods and minimizing sugar intake are essential during orthodontic treatment. Your braces can be damaged by eating hard, sticky, and chewy foods.

  • Hard foods : Nuts, Candy, Hard Pretzels
  • Crunchy foods : Popcorn, Ice, Chips, etc.
  • Sticky foods : Gum, Chewy Candy (Skittles, Taffy, Gummy Bears, Caramel, etc.)
  • Chewy foods : Bagels, Hard Rolls, etc.
  • Foods you have to bite into : Corn on the Cob, Apples, Carrots (cut these foods up into smaller pieces and chew on back teeth)
  • Chewing on Hard Objects (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

Hard Foods

 

Soft Foods

 

One day in the not-too-distant future, your braces will come off. In a few moments, you'll be free of bands and brackets, able to eat what you want and run your tongue over smooth, clean teeth. But, even on this happy occasion, please remember that you're not quite done with orthodontic treatment yet: The next phase, called retention, is just beginning.

Family.

Retention is a critical follow-through stage that typically involves wearing an orthodontic appliance called a retainer. Several different kinds of retainers are available, all of which are custom-made.

But if your teeth are straight now, why do you need a retainer at all? Simply put, it's because if you don't wear one, your teeth will start moving right back to where they were!

Teeth aren't set rigidly in the jawbone — instead, they're held in place by a network of fibers called the periodontal ligaments. After they have being moved, it takes several months for the periodontal ligament to adjust to the new position. So if you want to keep that new smile — and not waste all the time, effort, and money it took to get it — it's essential to wear your retainer as directed.

Being fitted for a retainer usually happens on the same day your braces are removed. After your teeth are thoroughly cleaned, another set of X-rays and/or bite impressions may be taken to check how well your braces worked and to see how much your wisdom teeth have developed. Then, a retainer will be prepared for you.

Three Types of Retainers

Types of orthodontic retainers.

There are three basic types of retainers available today; each works best in particular situations. The most common is the so-called “Hawley” retainer — a thin, tongue-shaped piece of acrylic molded to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds your teeth in position. The Hawley retainer is simple, durable and easily removed. It's even possible to personalize it by choosing different colors and designs for the plastic arch.

Another popular style of retainer is the clear aligner-type, which looks similar to the Invisalign® tray system. These retainers are custom-made of thin, transparent plastic designed to fit precisely over your teeth. Their main advantage is that they're invisible, with no wire to show. These retainers are also easy to remove, but they may be somewhat less durable than the Hawleys. They aren't recommended for patients with certain conditions, like teeth grinding.

Finally, fixed retainers may be an option for some people, especially on the lower front teeth. As their name implies, they aren't removable by the wearer — but they aren't visible either. Like lingual braces, this system uses a wire which is bonded to the tongue side of the teeth. It may remain in place for months, or longer. This type of retainer is sometimes recommended when there's a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position.

A Period of Adjustment

After a short time, most people adjust quite well to wearing a retainer. Some may find that they produce more saliva than usual for a day or so after first wearing any type of retainer — a normal reaction to a foreign object in the mouth. You may also find it a little harder to talk normally at first, but that problem will soon disappear. Of course, removable retainers should always be taken out when you eat or brush your teeth — a big change from braces!

At first, you will probably be told to wear your removable retainer all day, every day. This period of 24/7 retainer use generally lasts from several months to a year. Later, it may be OK to wear it only at night. Finally, you'll probably need to put it on just a few nights a week.

Maintaining — and Retaining — Your Retainer

How to Clean Removable Retainers

To stay fresh and germ-free, all retainers need proper cleaning. A Hawley-type retainer can be brushed gently with a regular toothbrush — but a brush may scratch the clear aligner types. Denture cleaners, in powder or tablet form, as well as special retainer cleaners, can be used to clean most removable retainers. Fixed retainers are cleaned by brushing and flossing; a floss threader or interproximal brush can also be a helpful cleaning tool when needed.

Finally, remember to always carry — and use — a retainer case. You'd be surprised how many retainers end up folded in a napkin and accidentally discarded! Also, don't expose your retainer to excess heat by washing it in very hot water or leaving it on a heater: That can cause the retainer to warp and make it unusable. With proper care and conscientious use, a retainer can help you transition from braces to a permanent, healthy smile.

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