What you need to know
Why an Orthodontist?
All orthodontists had to become dentists first as part of their training, but only about six percent of dentists continued on with their schooling to become licensed orthodontists. While some family and cosmetic dentists may occasionally place braces or experiment with Invisalign, it is important to note that they are not orthodontists. Only an orthodontist is a formally trained and licensed dental specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
Dr. Felty and Dr. Thong continued beyond becoming a dentist, to be a certified and university trained orthodontist. This required the completion of four years of college (Bachelors of Science) followed by four years of dental school (DMD) and an additional two year postdoctoral program in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics (Masters of Science and Certificate in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics). Through extensive training, Dr. Felty and Dr. Thong has mastered the skills necessary to manage tooth movement and guide facial development and to focus their practice exclusively on the orthodontic needs of children and adults.
Orthodontics isn’t just one thing we do, it’s the only thing we do. All day. Every day.
The right time for a Check Up
Children and adults of any age can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Despite the fact that healthy teeth can be moved at any age, some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if treated at an early age. For this reason, it is recommended that all children have a check up by an orthodontic specialist by age 7. By this age, the permanent first molars and incisors have normally come in and enough jaw growth is complete so that Dr. Felty and Dr. Thong can identify current problems, anticipate future ones and alleviate any concerns if all seems normal. Most kids who come into our office at such a young age will be added to the recall system, a complimentary service to monitor eruption and growth patterns. Recall visits are usually on an annual or bi-annual basis, and at the optimal time treatment will be recommended for the patient.
Advantages of seeing an orthodontist early include:
- Orthodontists are able to recognize subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth even while baby teeth are still present.
- While your child’s teeth may seem straight, there could be problems only an orthodontist can detect.
- Early treatment may prevent serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter or less complicated
- Ability to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
- Early treatment can give your orthodontist the chance to:
- Guide jaw growth
- Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Improve appearance
- Preserve space for unerupted teeth
- Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
- Create a more pleasing arrangement of teeth, lips and face
If your child is older than 7, it’s certainly never too late for a check-up!
Problems to Watch For
- Crossbite front teeth
- Crossbite back teeth
- Oral habits
Some signs and habits that may indicate a need for an early orthodontic treatment include:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Injury-prone upper incisors (front teeth) that protrude (stick out) excessively
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Missing, misplaced or blocked out teeth
- Difficulty in chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Jaws that shifts or make sounds
- Jaws and teeth that appear out of proportion to the rest of the face
Each patient is provided with the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.
Braces aren’t just for kids anymore! You might be amazed to learn that today one in five orthodontic patients is an adult, and there are nearly one million adults in the US and Canada currently receiving orthodontic treatment from a specialist. Tooth alignment can be achieved at any age if your gums, teeth and supporting bone structures are healthy. Improving your smile will not only increase your self confidence, but it also improves the health of teeth and gums. Crooked teeth and an improper bite can contribute to gum and bone loss, tooth decay, abnormal wear of the tooth, headaches and joint (TMJ/TMD) pain.
Some complicating factors like gum or bone disease, missing, worn and damaged teeth become more common as you get older. Dr. Felty and Dr. Thong will ensure close communication among your general (family) dentist to make sure that adult treatment and any special needs are well managed.