When describing orthodontics, most people just refer
to braces. While the majority
of orthodontic cases involve braces, there are alternatives
that may be used for younger children or adults. Arch
expanders for younger children can minimize or eliminate
the need for braces when the problem is treated early
enough. Invisalign® clear
plastic retainers, instead of braces, can be used
by adults for mild to moderate crowding problems.
What are the Benefits of Orthodontics?
Reduce the risk of injury - prominent teeth are
more prone to trauma
Reduce the risk of decay
- crooked teeth are harder to clean
Eliminate the excessive wear
on your teeth that can be caused by a poorly aligned
Straight teeth provide a healthier, more attractive
A beautiful smile increases your confidence and
What is an Orthodontic Evaluation?
Orthodontic treatment with braces begins with an evaluation
appointment. Dr. Fletcher
will first visually determine if you are a good candidate
for orthodontic treatment, or if another treatment would
be more appropriate. If you are a good candidate for
orthodontic treatment, Dr. Fletcher
will take impressions of your teeth, special x-rays
of your jaw joint, head and teeth, and very important
measurements of your teeth and mouth.
is a consulting appointment to discuss the treatment
plan. The treatment plan is based on the records taken
at the evaluation. The consult includes:
Specific treatment recommendation
Expected length of treatment
Expected cost of treatment
When should My Child be Evaluated?
If your child develops an "open
bite", or you are otherwise concerned about
the development of your child's teeth, no matter what
the age, contact us right away for a consultation with
Otherwise, children should be evaluated by the age of
6 for orthodontic treatment. In the past, a child was
11 or 12 before brackets were actually placed on the
teeth to straighten them. This may still hold true in
most cases, but there are new techniques that can correct
problems early, while a child is still growing. This
may eliminate the need for braces in the future, or
if the child does still need braces, the treatment will
be less complicated, usually shortening the period of
time in braces.
What is an Arch Expander?
Arch Expander is one example of orthodontic treatment
available for younger patients. Many times an arch expander
can be used to create a proper alignment of the arches
so permanent teeth have room to erupt in a natural position.
The use of an arch expander will generally minimize
or eliminate the need for braces when the patient gets
What are Braces?
Braces are retainers, bonded brackets, arch
wires and elastic bands that move crowded or spaced
teeth into a "normal" position for appearance, prevention
and function. Patients with poorly aligned teeth tend
to have much more tooth decay, gum disease and jaw joint
problems. Recently invented brackets and new techniques
make orthodontic treatment faster and more comfortable
How do Braces work?
Over a period of time, teeth will shift if constant,
gentle pressure is applied. Brackets are bonded to the
front surface of each tooth and wires are attached to
the brackets with elastic bands. The slight tension
on the wire is gently transferred to the bracket through
the elastic band.
Are Braces Only for Kids?
Adults are finding that having braces isn't kid stuff
anymore. Many adults are turning to braces to correct
problems with their bite. They recognize the benefits
of reduced wear, reduced incidence
of TMJ problems, and increased
self-esteem. Major adjustments must be done with braces,
but some adjustments can actually be done without braces!
The Latest Trend in Orthodontics is No
Braces at All!
Adult "invisible braces" (which are
not really braces at all, but clear plastic retainers)
are a new technique for adults to obtain the results
of braces without wearing braces! This technique,
which is effective only for mild to moderate crowding,
utilizes a series of retainers (computer generated
or lab constructed) that are worn sequentially
until the desired correction is achieved.
About 5-10% of orthodontic malocclusions can be easily
treated by the Invisalign® system. It is an excellent
method for treating cases of orthodontic relapse caused
by failure to wear orthodontic retainers. Your teeth
are straightened by a series of clear plastic aligner
trays - no braces or archwires. If you want straight
teeth, but do not like brackets or archwires, see Dr.
James or Dr. Matt Fletcher for a consultation.
She's wearing "invisible braces" in
one of these two photos. Can you tell which one?
It's difficult to tell, isn't it? That's the whole