Facts About Orthodontics

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What is happening in Orthodontics?Braces_Girl_6.jpg

Diagnosis and Treatment Planning

In contrast to the popular belief that braces can correct all kinds of dental malalignment and the notion that braces automatically produces beautiful smiles, the practice of orthodontics involves serious challenges and limitations. Orthodontists are faced with numerous biological and technical limitations, which can inadvertently affect the outcome and stability of their finished products.

The age and health of the patient, hereditary factors, environmental influences such as habits, obstruction of the nasal airway and resultant mouth breathing, as well as allergies, diet, stress, the presence or absence of teeth, etc., can modify the growth of jaw bones and surrounding musculature, which are the main determinants for final position of the teeth.

Success of orthodontic treatment, therefore, hinges on the ability of the orthodontist to sort out the relevance of different biological and environmental influences in each patient (etiology and diagnosis). The orthodontist will then design a plan that either modifies or accommodates these factors (treatment plan). Additionally, each patient has his/her specific notion of facial attractiveness that may or may not be harmonious with the diagnostic/ethilogic list. Effective communication between doctor and patient is essential in order to reach a mental picture of the end result.

In our office, we promote an atmosphere of listening. Also, to encourage open communication we provide seats next to the dental chairs for the parents.

Orthodontic Records

To reach a diagnosis and to formulate a treatment plan we need to collect pertinent data. This is done as follows:

1. Preliminary Examination (first appointment):
Takes one hour and involves:

  • Review of medical and dental history and patients main concern(s)
  • Comprehensive examination by doctor(s)
  • Review of the findings and discussion of the possible treatment options
  • Review of the fees and the insurance coverage

This first exam visit provides the orthodontist with the basic information to establish a tentative treatment plan. It provides the patient/parents with the essential information to make an informed decision about orthodontic treatment.

2. Dental/orthodontic X-rays and models (second appointment):
In the majority of cases, at least two X-rays are needed for diagnosis.

  • Panoramic X-ray (or full mouth dental X-rays): Used to evaluate the teeth and surrounding bone. We normally request this X-ray from the dentist’s office.
  • Lateral Cephalometric X-ray: Used to evaluate the relationship of the jawbones and the occlusion (bite of the patient). For this X-ray, we refer the patient to a dental X-ray lab.
  • Dental study models: This procedure only takes a few minutes and is fairly non-invasive. The upper and lower models are related to one another to reveal subtle occlusal (bite) discrepancies.