If you’re thinking about orthodontic treatment so you can enjoy a beautiful smile without the embarrassment of crooked teeth, you may have come across misleading information about what orthodontics is and exactly what it does.
Basically, orthodontics is a specialist field in dentistry that corrects misalignment of the teeth and jaw. Orthodontists can use many different types of devices, removable or fixed, to apply gentle pressure to move teeth and promote healthy growth of the jaw.
We can explore the world of orthodontics in a little more detail by looking at five popular misconceptions you should be aware of when considering orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontic Myth #1 – There’s no difference between general dentists and orthodontists
Not all providers of dental braces or aligners are orthodontists. There’s a big difference between practitioners of general dentistry and orthodontic specialists and that is the level of training.
General dentists set up in practice on graduation after four years at a dental school. To become an orthodontic specialist requires a further two or more years of training in an orthodontic education program certified by the American Dental Association (ADA).
This extra training takes the form of a residency and involves both clinical and academic education. During this time, the budding orthodontist will get hands-on experience in treating patients, from start to finish, under the watch of orthodontic professors.
If you’re looking for cosmetic dental treatment such as veneers or teeth whitening, a general dentist will do just fine. However, repositioning of the teeth and jaws is best left to an orthodontic expert.
Some dentists may offer braces or aligners as part of their general practice but only a dentist who has successfully undertaken advanced training through an accredited orthodontic residency can call themselves an orthodontic specialist.
Tip: Look for an orthodontist who’s recognized by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), which points out that while all orthodontists are dentists, only six percent of dentists are orthodontists.
Orthodontic Myth #2 – Orthodontic treatment is too expensive
The benefits of expert orthodontic care far outweigh the costs. Orthodontists provide a personalized treatment plan for each patient, and their fees reflect the complexity of individual cases. Simple cases may take just a few months, while treatment for difficult ones can last a couple of years.
The average cost of braces in 2016 ranged from $5,000 to $6,000. This may seem high, but not when put into perspective and compared against the average cost of a car in the US the same year – $25,000.
Orthodontists, with their advanced training and greater experience, generally charge more than general dentists. However, they can still provide the best value for money because the cheaper option may not deliver the outcome you had hoped for, and treatment is likely to take longer. Sometimes orthodontic specialists have to fix orthodontic mistakes by general dentists.
Many orthodontists offer:
- Free consultations.
- Flexible and affordable payment options to fit the patient’s budget.
- Filing your insurance claim for you.
- Discounts for payment in full.
- CareCredit financing acceptance.
- A breakdown of costs included in your detailed treatment plan.
Orthodontic Myth #3 – Orthodontic treatment takes forever!
Whether your case is simple or complex, an experienced orthodontist will draw up a treatment plan to provide the best outcome in the shortest possible time.
However, many factors can affect the repositioning of teeth. Before treatment, even the most highly-skilled orthodontists cannot say how your teeth will react to movement. They can suggest a time frame but cannot give an exact length of time you’ll have to wear your braces.
Orthodontic treatment can last as long as two years, or even more in severe cases, but it can also take only six months. Younger patients will typically experience faster results because their mouths are still developing and better able to adapt to orthodontic treatment.
You can help to minimize treatment time by:
- Taking good care of your braces.
- Following all instructions from your orthodontist.
- Brushing and flossing twice a day.
You’ll also need to visit your orthodontist at regular intervals so they can monitor the condition of your teeth, gums, and jaw, to ensure your treatment is staying on track.
Orthodontic Myth #4 – Orthodontic treatment is purely cosmetic
Orthodontic treatment goes far beyond giving you a stunning smile. While some people may choose orthodontic treatment for cosmetic purposes, in many cases appliances like braces are necessary for health reasons, such as:
- Crooked teeth and especially protruding teeth that can put you at more risk of accidental damage.
- Misaligned teeth can be difficult to clean and straightening them makes it easier to brush all the surfaces. This lessens the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Orthodontics can improve the way your jaw and teeth function together.
Indications that you may need orthodontic treatment on medical grounds include:
- Overlapping teeth.
- Persistent bad breath.
- Poor bite function
- Developing a lisp.
Orthodontic Myth #5 – Orthodontic treatment involves unsightly braces
Thanks to advances in dental technologies, modern braces come in all shapes and sizes and are now more discreet and effective than ever.
The Invisalign system of teeth straightening provides a popular alternative to conventional braces. The fact that these aligners are so inconspicuous, combined with the convenience of being easy to put in and take out, makes them the most common removable dental brace. One of the chief benefits of being able to remove the aligners is that it makes brushing and flossing much easier than with traditional braces and their brackets and wires.
Invisalign provides greater control in how your teeth are moved, and, with smooth, edges, are more comfortable than old-style braces and won’t impede your speech once you get used to them after a few days. Lakeside Dental adds, “Compared with conventional non-removable metal braces, Invisalign gives youngsters – and adults – more freedom to get on with their lives than ever before, and this high level of convenience makes these removable aligners very desirable.”
The Invisalign system can fix many issues resulting from misalignment of teeth, from bite problems to gapped or overcrowded teeth. Treatment time with Invisalign is also typically less than that with traditional braces and costs roughly the same.