What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.  More specifically, orthodontists straighten teeth and make them fit together properly, maximizing esthetics and function.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program for 2-3 years following dental school. Orthodontists learn special skills in residency to analyze people's faces, jaws and teeth. They also learn to not only how to straighten teeth, but to make them fit together properly. Click here to meet Dr. Austin!

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

  • A more attractive smile
  • Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Possible increase in self-confidence
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long term health of teeth and gums
  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
  • Aids in optimizing other dental treatment

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth
  • Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • The upper teeth are on the inside of the lower teeth (crossbite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger or thumb sucking habits that continue after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth

Review the common treatments that happen to children, teens and adults.

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Certain orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age (8-11 years) before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications in the future. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age seven or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child's physician.  Dr. Austin will be able to let you know whether she recommends early treatment for your child at the consultation appointment.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of 8 and 11. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, and underbites, or harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of 11 and 13.

Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Twenty to 25 percent of orthodontic patients today are adults.  We offer several different options to straighten teeth, including Invisalign and clear brackets.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions. Read more about braces in Life with Braces Invisalign works in a similar way, providing light constant force to move teeth into their proper positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, usually from six months to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.  Dr. Austin will tell you approximately how long your treatment will take at your consultation appointment.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for up to one week. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.  Advil helps to reduce the soreness of your teeth, and placing wax usually helps to reduce discomfort to your cheeks.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their teeth by wearing a mouthguard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouthguards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.  We offer special mouthguards that fit with braces.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.

Can I visit any Oasis Orthodontic location? 

Yes. Dr. Austin is happy to provide treatments at any of the locations. Contact our Wheat Ridge orthodontic office or our Boulder orthodontic office to schedule your free consultation today.