Answers to Common Orthodontic Questions

You probably have many questions about orthodontics, and we’re here to help. If your question isn’t listed here, contact us, and we’re happy to answer it.

Why select an orthodontist?

An orthodontist will help you achieve the smile you want. Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose, prevent, and treat dental and facial irregularities. They receive an additional two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth. Only those with this formal education may call themselves “orthodontists,” and only orthodontists may be members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). Dr. Just has achieved this specialization and is an active member of AAO.

When should children get an orthodontic check-up?

Children should see an orthodontist by age 7. By this age, most children have several permanent teeth that have erupted, letting us evaluate their orthodontic needs. This makes it easier for Dr. Just to spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. That’s important because some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they’re found early. Most orthodontic patients begin active braces treatment between ages 9 and 14.

Can adults benefit from orthodontic treatment?

Yes. Orthodontic treatment can be successful at almost any age. In fact, about one in every four orthodontic patients today is over age 18. Thanks to today’s smaller, less visible, and more comfortable orthodontic appliances such as metal braces, ceramic braces, and Invisalign, adults find treatment appealing.

How long does treatment take?

Patients who need orthodontic treatment generally have one to three years of active treatment.

How much does treatment cost?

This will vary from patient to patient. The cost of orthodontic treatment depends on many factors, such as how severe the problem is, how complex the problem is, and how long treatment lasts. Dr. Just will be glad to discuss the cost of treatment and your financing options with you before treatment begins. The good news is that braces are more affordable today than ever. Our staff also works with insurance companies and offers payment plans that meet your family’s budget.

What causes orthodontic problems?

There are several causes. Most orthodontic problems are inherited. Examples of these genetic problems are crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth, and jaw growth problems. Other oral problems are caused by thumb- or finger-sucking, dental disease, accidents, the early or late loss of baby teeth, or other causes.

Why is treatment so important?

Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty chewing and/or speaking, and excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue. Without treatment, many problems become worse and can require additional dental care later in life.

What is my role in treatment?

Your job is to follow Dr. Just’s instructions, keep scheduled orthodontic appointments, and maintain excellent oral hygiene to get the best results. Orthodontic treatment is a partnership between the doctor and the patient. Dr. Just provides custom-made fixed or removable appliances that use gentle pressure to move teeth into their proper positions. You will also need to see your general dentist as recommended to continue your general dental care.

I had braces as a teen, and now as an adult, my teeth are out of place. What can I do?

You may need an orthodontic “tune-up” to regain correct alignment. If you notice an unwanted change in your smile or bite, contact us for information.

Will wisdom teeth cause teeth to shift?

Not necessarily. Research suggests that wisdom teeth don’t always cause teeth to shift. In most cases, wisdom teeth are removed for general dental health reasons rather than for orthodontic health. Your family dentist or Dr. Just can help determine whether your wisdom teeth need to be removed.

How long do I have to wear retainers after treatment?

Dr. Just will recommend how long to continue wearing your retainers. We may recommend removable retainers (the kind you put in and take out) or fixed retainers (bonded behind your teeth). Wearing your retainers as prescribed is the best way to keep your teeth from moving after your orthodontic treatment. There are many reasons teeth may move after orthodontic treatment. Teeth are not set in concrete; they are set in bone. Because bone around your teeth is continually changing (breaking down and rebuilding), your teeth may shift after your braces are removed. Your teeth are more likely to remain where Dr. Just has placed them through braces treatment by wearing your retainers.

Why do some teeth shift?

The small changes that occur after braces are removed are due to a “settling in” as you use your teeth for biting and chewing. The more serious and undesirable changes may be traced to genetics or later-than-normal growth, which is unpredictable. Movement is most common in lower front teeth. This is particularly true if the teeth were extremely crowded before treatment. Changes in tooth position are a lifelong and naturally occurring phenomenon. The best way to keep teeth from shifting is to wear your retainers as prescribed. If you notice movement after your braces are removed, please contact us.

What should my long-term expectations be?

The fact is that throughout your lifetime, even though you have had orthodontic treatment, you can expect changes in tooth position. Many factors at work may cause teeth to shift. Such changes vary from individual to individual, and most of the time, they are hardly noticeable. However, on occasion, changes can occur that are disappointing to both the patient and Dr. Just. Changes in tooth position are not a failure of your orthodontic treatment but are a natural process. We expect changes in our bodies as we grow older, and teeth are no exception. To help control and limit these changes, retainers are prescribed after your braces are removed.

Can retainers be worn too long?

No. Retainers stabilize and preserve the alignment of teeth and jaws that orthodontic treatment achieved. Many people wear removable retainers nightly for the rest of their lives. Ask your orthodontist for guidance about your long-term retainer wear.