Orthodontic Treatment in Scripps Ranch
Orthodontics is a subspecialty of dentistry that encompasses the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of malpositioned teeth. The goal of orthodontic treatment is to shift the teeth into the proper position and alignment. Straight, properly positioned teeth are not only aesthetically appealing, but also optimal for oral health and dental function. Dr. Jennifer Santoro works with teens and adults to find the orthodontic solution that is best for their specific needs.
Why Is the Spacing & Alignment of the Teeth Important?
The alignment and spacing of the teeth is critical for several reasons.
Shifting the teeth into the desired position and alignment helps the teeth and jaw work more effectively. It helps avoid abnormal wear on the teeth, jawbone and joints.
Straight, properly aligned teeth are easier to brush and floss, thus reducing the risk of tooth decay and periodontal problems. The gums are less likely to develop redness, inflammation and increased periodontal pockets. By improving the alignment of the teeth, the gums are healthier and better able to properly attach to the teeth, giving them a nice snug fit.
Straight teeth are also less likely to cause pain or problems biting or chewing. When your teeth are in proper alignment, they support normal dental function. Straight teeth are also less likely than protruding, crooked teeth to crack or fracture from an injury in the event of an accident.
The alignment of the teeth is also critical to the bite, which is the way the upper and lower teeth fit together when the mouth is closed. When the bite is off, it can cause jaw pain or pressure, and sometimes headaches and facial and neck pain. An abnormal bite also leads to irregular tooth wear and other complications, such as problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) causing temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
Finally, properly spaced and aligned teeth are cosmetically attractive and can increase self-image and confidence. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a beautiful smile and the confidence that comes with it!
Orthodontic Treatment Options
A common way to treat orthodontic problems and avoid complications associated with crooked or crowded teeth is by wearing traditional braces. Metal or tooth-colored brackets are bonded onto the teeth and connected with a series of wires; the system puts gentle pressure on the teeth to move the teeth into the proper position and alignment. Sometimes the brackets are bonded to the insides of the teeth so they aren’t as noticeable. Metal bracket orthodontics are done by an orthodontist, whom Dr. Santoro can refer you to.
Invisible Orthodontic Options
Although braces are a well-known form of orthodontics, they aren’t the only option. Nowadays, more patients are opting for “invisible orthodontic” systems like Invisalign. Instead of using brackets and wires to slowly move the teeth into the desired position, Invisalign relies on clear plastic aligners to gently shift the teeth. Patients wear a series of upper and lower aligners in a specific sequence until the teeth reach the optimal position and alignment. Though every case is different, many patients achieve their treatment goals quicker with Invisalign compared to traditional braces. Dr. Santoro loves working with these clear aligner cases and would be happy to evaluate your specific situation!
For many children, orthodontic treatment plays a large role in their oral health. Dr. Santoro is dedicated to making Village Center Dentistry a warm, caring and family-friendly environment where the comfort and safety of children is prioritized.
Benefits of Treating Orthodontic Problems Early
There are numerous benefits to treating orthodontic issues early in your child’s life.
By correcting problems with the spacing or alignment of the teeth and jaw position, you can prevent your child from potentially experiencing difficulty biting, chewing or enunciating. You may help your child avoid long-term jaw pain or pressure or other serious issues that require costly, time-consuming care. Orthodontics will also give your child an attractive smile, which boosts self-esteem and confidence. And, your child will have an easier time keeping straight, aligned teeth clean to reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease.
When is the Right Age for a Child to See an Orthodontist?
Orthodontic issues are usually more treatable when a child is younger. Once the upper and lower jaw and face have stopped developing, it can be difficult or even impossible to address certain problems. The appropriate age for orthodontic treatment varies by child, depending on the specific issue requiring treatment and the child’s individual development. Dr. Santoro prefers to be more conservative in her recommendations and recommends early treatment when she feels it is necessary.
Issues that can be treated:
- Crowded or crooked teeth
- Blocked or misplaced teeth
- Teeth that protrude outward
- A “bad” bite
- Narrow arches
- Facial or jaw asymmetry
Causes of Orthodontic Problems in Children
Many orthodontic problems develop because of thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing or enlarged adenoids or tonsils. The premature or late loss of baby teeth can also contribute to tooth positioning problems.
Some orthodontic problems are inherited and may or may not be exacerbated by behaviors like thumb sucking or mouth breathing.
Pediatric Orthodontic Options
Dr. Santoro offers several orthodontic treatment options for children, including traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners. She will suggest the most suitable option for your child’s case, depending on his or her individual needs, stage of development and the level of attention and care required.
Frequently Asked Questions about Orthodontics
What are the Most Commonly Treated Orthodontic Problems?
- Tooth crowding – i.e., not enough room in between the teeth
- Abnormal spacing between the teeth – i.e., too much or uneven spacing between the teeth
- Underbite – the lower front teeth sit in front of the upper front teeth
- Overbite – the upper teeth extend out farther than the lower teeth (the lower teeth may bite into the roof of the mouth in severe cases)
- Open bite – the upper and lower teeth do not touch when closing the jaw
What Does Orthodontic Treatment Cost?
The cost of orthodontic treatment can vary greatly, depending on the type of orthodontic appliances or system used. Traditional metal braces will be priced differently than Invisalign. For pricing information, please set up a consultation with Village Center Dentistry.
Are There Financing Options for Orthodontic Treatment?
To inquire about financing orthodontic treatment, please give us a call or send an email today.
When Should I Choose Braces Over Invisalign?
The type and severity of your orthodontic problem will factor into whether braces or Invisalign is right for you. It is best to consult with Dr. Santoro about your individual concerns and treatment goals and ask about her recommendations for your case.
Traditional braces may be a good option if you have a complex orthodontic problem, are worried about losing removable trays or do not want to change them out frequently.
How Long Will Orthodontic Treatment Take?
The timeframe of your treatment depends on the severity of your orthodontic problem as well as your age, oral health and the orthodontic system used. Most patients complete treatment in 12 to 36 months.
Do Braces Hurt?
Getting braces put on your teeth does not hurt, but you may have some temporary soreness or discomfort as your teeth and gums get used to them. You may also experience temporary soreness or discomfort after they are periodically tightened.
Do I Need to Have More Dental Visits with Braces/ Aligners?
Dr. Santoro will have specific recommendations about how often to schedule dental visits based on the nature of your treatment and your oral health. Some patients need to come in more frequently than others. Generally with the clear aligners, you have to see Dr. Santoro once a month for the first few months until everything is on track and minimal adjustments need to be made.
Will I Need to Change What I Eat with Braces/ Aligners?
With Invisalign, you remove your aligners to eat; therefore, you do not need to adjust your diet. With braces, very hard or sticky foods can break or get stuck in between the brackets and wires, causing problems. It is best to stay away from foods like raw carrots, whole apples, tough meats (e.g., beef jerky) and avoid chewing on ice or hard candy.
Are There Less Noticeable Braces?
Systems like Invisalign use clear, removeable aligners to gently shift the teeth into the desired position. These aligners are thin, clear and much more discreet than the metal brackets and wires used in traditional braces.
Will I Need to Wear Retainers After Braces or Invisalign?
Yes. Wearing a retainer after you complete orthodontic treatment is a necessity as your teeth will revert back to their original position. The retainer allows the teeth to stay in their newly improved position and spacing long-term.
Will my child’s teeth straighten out on their own?
No, crooked or crowded teeth will not straighten on their own as a child grows. In fact, problems can get worse as a child gets older and his or her molars grow in, limiting space in the jaw.
Are there age requirements for Invisalign?
There are no lower age requirements for Invisalign. Some dentists recommend waiting until a child’s permanent teeth have come in before starting Invisalign treatment.
How long will my child need to wear braces or Invisalign aligners?
The treatment timeline varies from patient to patient, depending on the issue that needs to be corrected and its severity. Some pediatric patients with mildly crooked or crowded teeth may require only six months to achieve the desired results. Others with more severe tooth positioning problems or jaw alignment problems may require two years to see results.
Compliance is also crucial. Following Dr. Santoro’s instructions for using and caring for orthodontic appliances will influence the total length of treatment.