What Is Orthodontics?

You’ve probably heard the term orthodontics before, but you may be unsure about what it actually means, or what an orthodontist really does. Here at Central Virginia Orthodontics, we believe an informed patient is a better patient! When you know what your orthodontic care entails, you can be a more active participant in your treatment plan, something we strongly encourage. If you’ve been considering orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child, having a handle on the basics is a great first step towards a healthier smile. Our team has put together this guide to orthodontics to help you better understand exactly what it is, what orthodontists like Dr. Baugher and Dr. Claiborne do, and the many ways both can benefit you. Keep reading below to learn more!

The ABC’s of orthodontics

If you imagine dentistry as an umbrella, then orthodontics is a dental specialty underneath it. Orthodontists like Dr. Baugher and Dr. Claiborne focus on correcting teeth and jaws that are improperly positioned, but before orthodontists can provide this kind of care and treatment, they have to learn about the way teeth and jaws develop, and how to best correct any issues with that development. Orthodontists attend both college and dental school, just like general dentists. However, orthodontists will then go on to study for an additional 2-3 years in an ADA-approved orthodontic training program. By the time they’re ready to hang out a shingle and begin taking on orthodontic patients, they have a great deal of in-depth knowledge and the training necessary to improve oral issues requiring orthodontic care.

Though most people tend to associate orthodontics with straighter smiles, cosmetic issues aren’t the only thing treatment can address. There are a number of dental problems orthodontics can correct, and doing so will often lead to better oral health as well. Crooked teeth are a great example. While they may detract from a patient’s appearance, the much more important issue is how difficult it can be to keep the teeth and gums clean due to their poor positioning. This gives bacteria a breeding ground, increasing the risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Misalignment can also cause extra stress on the chewing muscles, and can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome, or neck, shoulder, and back pain.

What are some dental issues that benefit from orthodontics?

Many of the most common dental issues can benefit from orthodontic treatment, including:

  • Overbite — the upper front teeth lie too far forward and stick out over the lower teeth.
  • Underbite — the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth are too far back.
  • Crossbite — in normal bites, the upper teeth will be out over the top of the lower teeth when biting down. With a crossbite, this does not happen. There are a few different types of crossbites, depending on where the upper teeth fall in relation to the lower ones.
  • Open bite — there’s a space between the biting surfaces of the front or side teeth when the back teeth bite together.
  • Misplaced midline — the center of the upper front teeth doesn’t line up with the center of the lower front teeth.
  • Spacing issues — there are gaps in between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that don’t “fill up” the mouth.
  • Crowding issues — there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate

If you believe that one or more of the above affects you or your child, orthodontics could be beneficial. We’d love to meet you and your family! You can schedule a FREE initial evaluation by clicking here.

Is orthodontic treatment an option for you or your child?

At Central Virginia Orthodontics, we believe your first visit to our office is the most important one. This gives us the chance to meet and get to know you better, show you around our office, and wow you with all we have to offer! Your initial appointment with us will consist of a thorough examination and a discussion of potential treatment options. This visit generally lasts about 45 minutes, and gives us valuable insight into your unique orthodontic needs. We know how busy most families are these days, so we may reserve time following your exam for diagnostic records. These records include X-rays, photos, and impressions for study models, all of which are necessary for developing the appropriate treatment plan.

During your initial examination, we’ll address the following topics that cover the basics of orthodontic treatment.

  • Any oral issue that orthodontics can address
  • Whether treatment is needed now, or if it should be delayed until appropriate growth, tooth eruption, or other factors have occurred
  • What treatment option would be best for correcting your particular problem
  • Whether or not any permanent teeth will need to be removed
  • How long treatment is expected to take
  • How much treatment is expected to cost
  • What your payment options are for treatment

We’re often able to discuss most of this during the initial examination, but we’ll be sure to discuss specific areas in more detail after careful analysis of the diagnostic records. It’s  important to us to analyze each patient’s particular needs because in-depth planning leads to superior results and higher patient satisfaction!

Orthodontic treatment options

Modern orthodontics has given us several different types of appliances that can be used to help move the teeth into more desirable positions, retrain the muscles of the jaw, and affect jaw growth. Orthodontic appliances work by placing gentle, continuous pressure on the teeth and jaw. You’ll never receive “one size fits all” treatment here! Your specific needs and the complexity of your case will be the biggest deciding factor in which orthodontic approach is likely to be the most effective.

Fixed appliances

Braces: Traditional metal braces are one of the oldest and most efficient tools we have for straightening smiles, and they also tend to be the most recognizable. Bands are fixed around the teeth and used as anchors, while metal or ceramic brackets are bonded to the front of the tooth. We then pass arch wires through the bands, and attach them to the brackets. Through regular tightening and adjusting of the arch wire, the gentle pressure on the teeth will begin to gradually move them into new and improved positions.

Today’s braces are smaller, sleeker, and more comfortable than ever before. They’re even available with brightly colored bands for those who want to customize them to show off their personality! For patients looking for a more subtle option, there are also clear ceramic styles to choose from.

Removable appliances

Aligners: Clear aligners are currently the most popular alternative to traditional braces for teens and adults. At Central Virginia Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer the Invisalign clear aligner system. These removable aligners move teeth the same way fixed appliances do, but without any of the restrictions that can accompany metal wires and brackets. These virtually invisible trays are customized to fit comfortably over a patient’s teeth, and offer flexibility and freedom for patients who are hesitant about using brackets, bands, and wires to get the smile they want.

Removable retainers: You’re probably familiar with this appliance, but you may not realize what an important part of the orthodontic process they are! Retainers are worn over the teeth after the active phase of orthodontic treatment has been completed. When worn as directed, these devices keep teeth straight by preventing them from shifting back to their previous positions.

We offer the best orthodontic experience in Central Virginia!

Orthodontics has so many benefits, from improving your appearance to better total body health, and we understand that choosing to invest in it is a big decision. Our talented team puts every effort into providing you with the highest-quality orthodontic experience, from our state-of-the-art technology to incorporating the latest in techniques into your treatment plan.

If you’re in Lynchburg or the surrounding communities, and want to learn more about what orthodontics has to offer you and your family, get in touch with us today! We believe everyone deserves a healthy, beautiful, and functional smile they love, and that starts by scheduling your FREE initial consultation.

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