An orthodontist is a specialized dentist who focuses on realigning or straightening teeth. Orthodontic treatment can diagnose, prevent, and correct crooked teeth and help create a glowing, confident smile.
If you’re thinking about seeing an orthodontist, here’s what you should know:
What can an orthodontist do?
While most dentists can treat minor issues with crooked teeth or poor jaw alignment, orthodontists are experts in these areas and can correct more extreme health or cosmetic concerns.
After completing three years of dental school, orthodontists take an additional two to three years of courses specializing in the positioning and alignment of teeth and jaws. This specialized dental care includes straightening teeth, creating space for overlapping and crowded teeth, and improving jaw alignment (bad bite) to make sure your upper and lower teeth fit together correctly.
Why should you see an orthodontist?
Orthodontics is an important part of your overall dental care. An orthodontist can detect and correct teeth alignment issues, which may cause discomfort, as well as provide preventative care.
Large gaps between teeth or overlapping teeth contribute to gum disease and cavities, protruding teeth are easily chipped, and a bad bite can make it difficult to chew, causing jaw tension and pain. By visiting an orthodontist, you can not only improve your dental health today, but you will also reduce the need for more intensive dental treatments in the future.
When should you see an orthodontist?
Do you struggle to show off your smile even when you are happy? Is it difficult for you to chew? Do you wake up with jaw pain from grinding your teeth?
It may be time for you to see an orthodontist.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first check-up with an orthodontist when their first molars appear, usually between the ages of six and eight. By then, an orthodontist will be able to identify problems that might develop as the child’s jaw and teeth continue to grow.
If the orthodontist identifies issues with a child’s teeth or bite, they will typically wait until the child has gotten all their permanent teeth before beginning orthodontic treatment unless there is a risk of complications if the issue is left untreated. Problems that may require treatment while a child still has some of their baby teeth include crossbites, underbites, excessive crowding and missing or extra teeth. If immediate treatment is not required, the orthodontist will develop a treatment plan for later intervention.
As an adult, there are several signs that you may need to see an orthodontist for more advanced dental treatment. If you:
- have difficulty breathing, chewing, or speaking,
- notice your teeth are crowded, overlapping, or protruding,
- struggle to comfortably close your lips over your teeth,
- frequently bite your tongue or cheek, or;
- notice bottom and top jaw misalignment or other facial imbalances.
In addition, if you are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth and smile, you might want to make an appointment with an orthodontist.
What orthodontic treatments are available?
An orthodontist has many tools to correct issues with your jaw, mouth, and teeth depending on the concern.
The most common treatment for a variety of health and cosmetic concerns is braces. Braces are a series of bands and brackets secured to your teeth to gently pull them into the correct alignment. Braces are used to close large gaps between teeth, straighten overlapping teeth, and correct bite issues, including overbites (lower jaw extends past upper jaw), underbites (upper teeth cover lower teeth), and open bites (upper and lower teeth do not touch).
While braces used to be visible, sometimes brightly colored, stainless-steel brackets and bands, there are now many options for a more subtle approach. Some braces are clear or tooth-colored, while others are attached to the back of your teeth and are not outwardly noticeable. If you are concerned about how braces will look, be sure to ask your orthodontist about less visible options.
Depending on your dental concerns, there are many other orthodontic treatments available. These treatments and tools include removable appliances like retainers, permanent and removable space maintainers, palatal expanders, cheek bumpers, and jaw repositioning devices.
Do you need an orthodontist in Slidell?
It is important to feel comfortable with the orthodontist you choose to see. Personality, easy appointment scheduling, location, and cost should all be taken into consideration when deciding on an orthodontist. Family and friends might have recommendations for you, or your regular dentist may refer an orthodontist.
If you have dental concerns and believe you need to see an orthodontist in Slidell, we would be delighted to help you at Fremaux Dental Care Clinic – Slidell. We have the tools, knowledge, and highly trained dental professionals to identify the orthodontic treatments you need to have a confident, healthy smile.