Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites). Malocclusions may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.
An orthodontist is a qualified dentist, who after graduating from dental school, goes on to an additional full time university based education. This additional specialty training lasts at least two to three years. Orthodontists diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities. They limit their practice to only orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. This is all they do.
Right Age For Orthodontics
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child see an orthodontist for their first visit as early as age seven. The timing of orthodontic treatment is extremely important and greatly affects the treatment result. Since no two patients are alike, there is no specific age that is best to begin treatment. Dr. Bauer will give you his honest recommendation once he examines the patient.
Typical Sequence of Orthodontic Visits
Your first appointment will be a private examination and consultation during which you will meet Dr. Bauer and his staff and he will examine the patient and determine if and when orthodontic therapy is needed. If it is determined that orthodontic treatment can benefit the patient, Dr. Bauer will explain how and why, and a fee proposal will be presented. If time permits, diagnostic records (impressions for study models, intraoral and extraoral photographs, and panoramic and cephalometric radiographs) may be taken next.
The next visit will be your Case Presentation. Dr. Bauer will discuss in detail his proposed treatment plan and use the previously taken diagnostic records to help in presenting the treatment options. Any questions regarding the proposed treatment are encouraged to be asked. The informed consent and the financial contract will be reviewed and signed at this time. Separators may be placed at this appointment if needed.
The banding and bonding appointment is next and this is when the braces are placed. This appointment is about 90 minutes long and we ask that it be done in the a.m. hours or early p.m. hours so that we can accommodate more patients in the after school hours with shorter monthly appointments. Home care instructions and dietary guidelines are discussed at the end of this visit. The regular monthly appointments are usually scheduled every 4-6 weeks. These are about 15 minutes long and can usually be seen in the after school hours. Dr. Bauer will evaluate the progress being made, check the patientÕs oral hygiene, and activate the braces. This is when archwires and ties are changed.
Once the teeth are straight and the bite is correct, it’s time to remove the braces. This appointment is usually 90 minutes long and the patient will receive their retainers before they leave. Retainers are necessary to keep the teeth aligned properly and must be worn as instructed.
Dr. Bauer will periodically check the retainers to make sure they are fitting well and the teeth are staying straight. These retainer checks are scheduled over the next year and are usually 6 weeks after the braces are removed, then 3 months and then six months. After these visits, Dr. Bauer will most likely release the patient from recall, and will ask that the patient continue to wear the retainer nightly. If there is ever a need after that, we are happy to schedule the patient an appointment to be reexamined.
Completed orthodontic treatment does not guarantee perfectly straight teeth for the rest of your life. Retainers will be required to keep your teeth in their new positions. You must wear your retainers as Dr. Bauer has instructed, or your teeth may shift, or relapse. Dr. Bauer will follow his patients with retainer checks for about a year after the braces have been removed, then he will recommend that the patient wear their retainers nightly, or enough to maintain their proper fit.