LIFE WITH BRACES

Braces are a wonderful way to improve your smile and self-confidence.  There are several things you will need to remember in order to take care of your braces and keep them clean.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program following dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.

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, or are bucked
  •  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)
  •  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

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. 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.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early interceptive 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 six and ten. 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.

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.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from 12-34 months.   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.

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 one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouthguard when participating in any sporting activity.  If a mouthguard is necessary, we provide the first one free and additional ones are available for $10.
 
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.

Is it required that my family dentist schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?

No, it is not. Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, yet many other patients take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves.

Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?

No, they will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.

How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?

If you believe you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office at 719-550-0222. We will be happy to schedule a free consultation appointment for you. When you call to schedule your appointment, our front office staff will request some basic information from you.

What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

Upon arriving, each patient will be asked for the new patient forms.  Complimentary X-rays will be taken for proper diagnosis.
 The doctor will then complete a thorough clinical exam. Dr. Suter dedicates 45 minutes for your visit and charges NO FEE for this initial consultation.
During this in-depth exam, Dr. Suter will review your medical and dental history and perform a clinical exam.
The purpose of your initial exam is to answer several questions:

1. What problems require correction, if any?
2. Is orthodontic treatment needed?
3. How long will treatment take?
4. When is the proper time to start treatment?
5. What is the cost of orthodontic treatment?

After completing his exam, if orthodontic treatment is indicated, Dr. Suter will thoroughly discuss your personalized treatment options and address any questions or concerns you may have. Our treatment coordinator will then discuss the anticipated cost and insurance coverage.

Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?

Removing teeth is sometimes required to achieve the best orthodontic result. Straight teeth and a balanced facial profile are the goal of orthodontics. However, because new technology has provided advanced orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is not always necessary for orthodontic treatment.

Surgical orthodontics defined

Orthognathic surgery (more commonly known as surgical orthodontics) is used to correct jaw irregularities.  Aside from aesthetics enhancements, this also improves the patient’s ability to speak, chew and breathe.
Surgical orthodontics moves the jaws into a corrected position.  Braces are used to insure that the teeth are properly positioned after surgery.
Surgical orthodontics is not for everybody. Orthodontists often use surgical orthodontic treatment for patients with concerns about facial aesthetics and improper bites. Jaw surgery is only done after the jaw has fully developed, which is usually completed by the age of 16 for girls, and 18 for boys. Orthodontists however, can still continue with the pre-surgical tooth movements one to two years before 16 and 18 years of ages.

How does it work?

Orthodontic treatments can last from 6 to 18 months and it consists of wearing braces and regular visits to your orthodontist for scheduled adjustments of your braces. It may seem that your bite is getting worse at first, but as your teeth adjust with your braces, it will be easier for your bite to adjust to its proper position after an orthognathic surgery. The surgery is done by an oral surgeon, and it can last for several hours depending on the severity of your jaw misalignment, the type and amount of surgery required. During lower jaw surgery, the jawbone located behind the teeth is separated to allow the tooth-bearing portion to be moved forward or backward, as needed.

During upper jaw surgery, the jaw is repositioned forward or backward. It can also be raised or lowered, depending on what is needed. Some adjustments may require the jaws to be separated in order to add or remove bone to achieve proper alignment and stability. In doing so, other facial bones that can affect the alignment may also require repositioning or augmentation.
The recovery period usually lasts two weeks, but complete healing may last from 4 to 8 weeks. After this period, your orthodontist will do the necessary adjustments to ‘fine-tune’ your bite. The braces are usually removed 6 to 12 months after surgery.  A retainer is usually used to maintain the alignment of your teeth.

Are braces covered by insurance and do I have to pay for them all at once?

Many dental plans now include orthodontic treatment; however most plans only cover a portion of the treatment costs. Please check with your insurance provider before seeking care to determine if orthodontic procedures are covered. Our office is committed to helping you maximize your insurance benefits. Because insurance policies vary, we can only estimate your coverage in good faith but cannot guarantee coverage due to the complexities of insurance contracts. As a service to our patients, we will bill insurance companies for services. If you have any questions, our courteous team is always available to answer them.

How long do braces take to put on?

Depending on your situation, braces take 1 to 1 1/2 hours to put on.  We will let you know when you schedule approximately how long your appointment should take.  

Do we take Care Credit? 

No, because we charge no interest or finance charges.

We just moved here, and my child/I are already in braces, what do we do next?

Dr. Suter is happy to work with patients who are already in braces.  We offer a free consultation where Dr. Suter can determine the best course of action for your smile.

If there was a giant overhead magnet, and someone flipped it on, would it pull me up?

No, braces are made from non-magnetic materials.

I’m allergic to metal, will my braces be ok?

Because braces are made out of surgical steel, you are unlikely to be allergic.

Am I too old for braces?

NO, it is never too late!  Our oldest patient was 76 years old and did it because she never enjoyed her smile.  

Common Orthodontic Terms

Archwire:  A wire engaged in orthodontic attachments, affixed to the crowns of two or more teeth and capable of causing or guiding tooth movement.

Band:  A thin metal ring, usually stainless steel, which serves to secure orthodontic attachments to a tooth. The band, with orthodontic attachments welded or soldered to it, is closely adapted to fit the contours of the tooth and then cemented into place.

Bracket:  An orthodontic attachment that is secured to a tooth (either by bonding or banding) for the purpose of engaging an archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic or plastic.

Ceramic brackets:  Crystalline, alumina, tooth-shade or clear synthetic sapphire brackets that are aesthetically more attractive than conventional metal attachments.

Crowding:  Dental malalignment caused by inadequate space for the teeth.

Debanding:  The removal of cemented orthodontic bands.

Elastics (rubber bands):  Used to move teeth in prescribed directions (commonly connected to molar band and upper ball hook). Found in numerous colors for better appearance.

Gingiva:  The tissue that surrounds the teeth, consisting of a fibrous tissue that is continuous with the periodontal ligament and mucosal covering.

Headgear:  Generic term for extraoral traction (attached around the back side of the head) for growth modification, tooth movement and anchorage.

Imaging: The process of acquiring representations of structures in either two or three dimensions.

Lingual: Of or pertaining to the tongue. A term used to describe surfaces and directions toward the tongue.

Maxillary: Of or pertaining to the upper jaw. May be used to describe teeth, dental restorations, orthodontic appliances or facial structures.

Orthodontist: A dental specialist who has completed an advanced post-doctoral course, accredited by the American Dental Association, of at least two academic years in the special area of orthodontics.

Orthognathic surgery: Surgery to alter relationships of teeth and/or supporting bones, usually accomplished in conjunction with orthodontic therapy.

Overbite: Vertical overlapping of upper teeth over lower teeth, usually measured perpendicular to the occlusal plane.

Radiograph: A permanent image, performed digitally in our office, produced by ionizing radiation. Sometimes called an X-ray after the most common source of image-producing radiation.

Retainer: Any orthodontic appliance, fixed or removable, used to maintain the position of the teeth following corrective treatment.

Retention: The passive treatment period following active orthodontic correction during which retaining appliances may be used.

Straight wire appliance: A variation of the edgewise appliance in which brackets are angulated to minimize multiple archwire bends. Brackets and molar tubes have specific orientation in three planes of space.

Dental Associations Dr. Suter is a member of:

American Association of Orthodontists

American Dental Association

Rocky Mountain Association of Orthodontists

Colorado Dental Association

Colorado Springs Dental Society