top of page

Importance of Orthodontics


A Conversation with Orthodontist Dr. Rebecca Chen

Did you know?  Beautiful smiles are often results of successful orthodontic treatments.  Orthodontic treatment is a sophisticated biological process involving adjustments in jaw and facial bones and soft tissues as teeth are moved into new positions.  A proper bite will make it easier to bite, chew and speak.  Your smile and face will also appear more proportionate and appealing as a result.  

What is the Purpose of Orthodontic Treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is a preventative procedure meant to create a healthy, functional “bite” where chewing and speaking is improved.  This is because straight teeth are less prone to decay, gum disease and injury.  An attractive smile is a pleasant side effect of orthodontic treatment, and can have emotional benefits including improved self-confidence and self-esteem as teeth, lips and face are brought into proportion.  This promotes oral health and general physical health.  Orthodontic treatment plays a larger role in healthcare than is generally realized.

Where did my Orthodontic problems come from?

Although most orthodontic problems are inherited, some are “acquired,” developing over time by finger sucking, mouth breathing, dental diseases, abnormal swallowing, poor dental hygiene, or early or late loss of baby teeth, accidents and poor nutrition.  Sometimes an inherited orthodontic problem is complicated by an acquired problem.  Whatever the cause, orthodontists are usually able to treat most conditions successfully.

When Should Children First Visit the Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children get an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7. Getting early check ups allows the orthodontist to spot certain problems that are best treated earlier than usual. This can prevent more serious problems from developing, and may allow orthodontists to utilize growth to achieve a better result. Even if your child is older than 7, it’s still important to have an orthodontic check-up as soon as possible since children continue to grow into their teens and most orthodontic problems can still be successfully treated at any age.

Do I or My Child Need Orthodontic Treatment?

Everyone is unique and so are their oral conditions.  Generally speaking, you or your child may need orthodontic treatments if you or your child have symptoms such as crooked or crowded teeth, too much space between teeth, an overbite or underbite, misaligned bite, and is simply growing teeth or experiencing teenage puberty.  If you are concerned with your bite or your child's teeth, please make an appointment with an orthodontist for a consultation and evaluation.

How long do Orthodontic treatments take?

Orthodontic treatment is not a quick fix. With good care, treated teeth can last a lifetime. The duration of comprehensive orthodontic treatment can vary between 6 and 36 months depending on the problem’s severity and the patient’s compliance. The process starts with thorough examinations of the teeth and mouth, and study of dental records such as x-rays, photos and models of the teeth.  From this detailed information your orthodontist develops a bespoke treatment plan.  Working together with your orthodontist, orthodontic treatment can yield life-enhancing results: better function (biting, chewing, speaking), improved appearance and increased self-esteem.  It’s worth the effort to reach the goal you and your orthodontist share: giving you a healthy, beautiful smile that will last a lifetime.

Am I Too Old for Braces?

Absolutely not! Healthy teeth, bones, and gums respond well to orthodontic treatment regardless of age. Most orthodontic problems can be treated during adulthood and esthetic treatment options have made orthodontic treatment more appealing to the adult group.

Can I do it myself?  Direct-to-Customer Aligners and DIY Orthodontics

Online orthodontic companies make their treatment sound very easy.  Take a selfie and maybe an impression of your teeth or get your teeth scanned.  Next, you receive aligners in the mail and after a few months – straight teeth!  Right?  What else is there to think about?  Before proceeding with a direct-to-consumer orthodontic company, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) warns of a number of risk factors to consider.  For example, many direct-to-consumer orthodontic companies do not involve in-person evaluation and supervision of your treatment by an orthodontist.  An in-person evaluation and supervision with an orthodontist throughout your treatment is imperative.  Orthodontic treatment involves the movement of biological material, which if not done properly under the supervision of an orthodontist may lead to irreversible and expensive damages such as tooth and gum loss, bone loss, nerve damage, jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ), and other complications.  Consider this question: What other transforming medical treatment would you undergo without an in-person, evaluation and supervision from a medical professional?  Your doctor should be your gatekeeper in improving and safeguarding your oral health not a business that sells you products. 

Who is an Orthodontist?

Orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of orthodontic problems.  While there is some orthodontic instructions in dental school, it is minimal.  It is in the post-dental school orthodontic program that orthodontists receive many years of intense training in proper, safe tooth movement and the guidance of dental, jaw and facial development (dentofacial orthopedics).  These extra years of school make the orthodontist the specialist in moving teeth and aligning jaws and this is the only focus of their practice.  While general dentists and pediatric dentists offer orthodontic treatments, orthodontists are uniquely qualified, by virtue of extra years of education and scope of practice, as experts who have the skills and experience to give you a healthy and beautiful smile.

Information Source: American Association of Orthodontics, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, World Health Organization

bottom of page