What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is dentistry's oldest specialty. It focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental and facial irregularities.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program (residency) following dental school where he or she learned the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

  • A more attractive smile
  • Improved self-esteem during critical development years
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Increase in self-confidence
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • More even force distribution on the teeth
  • More even wear pattern of the teeth
  • Improved long term health of teeth and gums
  • Permanent teeth can be guided into more favorable positions during eruption
  • Reduced risk of injury to protruded front teeth
  • Optimization of other dental treatment such as implant placement and crown preparation

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

  • The upper front teeth protrude or stick out excessively over the lower teeth
  • The upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • The upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • The teeth are crowded or overlapping
  • The middle of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Finger or thumb sucking habits that continue after six or seven years old
  • Uneven or excessive wear patterns of teeth
  • Spaces between the teeth
  • Difficulty chewing

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

It is a common misconception that a patient must wait until all permanent teeth have erupted before orthodontic treatment can begin. The truth is that orthodontics can be started at any age, and early treatment is often desirable because many problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age. If a significant orthodontic problem exists, early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid having teeth removed or even jaw surgery in the future. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by the parents, the family dentist, or the child's physician. If in doubt, it is always best to bring your child for an orthodontic consultation because even if no treatment is required at that time, you will have the peace of mind that any potential problems are being monitored by highly qualified specialists. Our orthodontic consultations are always complimentary, and we would be happy to talk with you about any concerns that you might have.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) that is initiated before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. This treatment is typically given between the ages of six and ten, and it is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive orthodontic treatment because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually after the age of eleven.

Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

We work with patients of all ages to give them beautiful and healthy smiles. Although metal braces are the most common type of braces, adults will often choose to have clear braces or Invisalign so it is less disruptive to their professional lives. Thirty to thirty-five percent of orthodontic patients today are adults, and we are confident that we can give you the smile you are looking for!

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Orthodontics uses steady and gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The main components of braces are the brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them all together. When a flexible archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions. Similarly, bends that are placed in stiff archwires also apply pressure and move teeth into their proper positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary widely, but the average length is about 24 months. Actual treatment time can be affected by the rate of growth and eruption of the teeth as well as the severity of the orthodontic problem. Treatment length also depends heavily on patient compliance. This includes wearing elastics properly, not breaking brackets on hard food, maintaining good oral hygiene, and keeping regular appointments.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for a few days. Your lips and cheeks may also need one or two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth. However, we always give our patients wax to cover any spots on your braces that may be rubbing your cheeks.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. However, we recommend that patients protect their smiles by wearing mouth guards when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. We have had many patients who play musical instruments, and although braces do not interfere with playing the instrument, there may may be an initial period of adjustment.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should always see your dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups, especially with braces. We are also happy to remove the wires from your braces before a dental cleaning to make your dental hygienist's job easier.

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Spartanburg: 864-585-8709

319 North Pine Street, Suite 5, Spartanburg SC 29302

Roebuck: 864-641-6245

4385 South Church Street Ext., Roebuck SC 29376

Piedmont Orthodontic Associates provides quality orthodontics for children, teens, and adults in Spartanburg, SC and the surrounding areas. Dr. Ernest Gardner, Jr. specializes in orthodontics, offering Invisalign as well as traditional braces. Contact Piedmont Orthodontic Associates to schedule your complimentary orthodontic consultation.

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