Frequently Asked Questions
Orthodontics can boost a person’s self-image as the teeth, jaws and lips become properly aligned, but an attractive smile is just one of the many benefits. Alleviating or preventing physical health problems is just as important.
Without treatment, orthodontic problems may lead to tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction and chewing and digestive difficulties. A “bad bite” can contribute to speech impairments, tooth loss, chipped teeth and other dental injuries.
Your orthodontic specialist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontic specialists must first attend college, and then complete a four-year graduate program at a dental school in a university or other institution accredited by the Canadian Dental Association.
They must then successfully complete an additional residency program — of at least two or three academic years — of advanced education in orthodontics, accredited by the CDA. This advanced training includes such diverse studies as genetics, embryology, human growth and development, and biophysics. Only dentists with this advanced specialty education can present themselves as orthodontic specialists.
You already know that braces straighten teeth. But what you might not know is that a beautiful smile is just one of the benefits orthodontics has to offer. Bringing teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment not only produces a great smile, but a healthy one. Straight teeth simply function better and are easier to clean.
Another benefit is the increased confidence and self-esteem that a healthy smile provides. This psychological benefit can be a significant factor in the decision to undergo treatment, and is often listed as a patient’s top treatment goal. A beautiful smile is a pleasure to own and a pleasure to see.
An attractive smile is just the start. Improved oral health and general well-being are important treatment goals as well.
“Malocclusion” is a technical term for crooked, crowded or protruding teeth which do not fit together properly. Literally, the word means “bad bite.” Most malocclusions are inherited. These include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra or missing teeth, cleft palate and a variety of irregularities of the jaws and face.
Some malocclusions are acquired. They can be caused by thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, dental disease, premature loss of primary or permanent teeth, accidents or some medical problems.
Left untreated, these orthodontic problems can become worse. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This may contribute to conditions that can cause tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and excess stress of the supporting bone and gum tissue.
At one time, most people believed braces were “just for kids.” But the truth is that one in every four Canadians receiving orthodontic treatment is 21 or older. Because the basic process involved in moving teeth is the same in adults as in children, orthodontic treatment can usually be successful at any age. The health of the teeth, the gums and the supporting bones will also determine the prospects for improvement.
So who can benefit? Most anyone, really. The truth is you’re never too old to be at your best. Regardless of age, orthodontic treatment is always a change for the better.
While it’s important to keep in mind the lifetime value that orthodontics offer, we know you have specific cost questions, so don’t be afraid to ask. You may discover the price tag is considerably lower than you ever imagined. Cost, of course, depends on the nature of the problem. Many orthodontic problems require only limited treatment.
Dr. Martin and his team will be happy to discuss fees. We offer payment plans to help meet individual financial needs. In addition, many dental insurance plans now include orthodontic benefits for just a few dollars a month.