It’s normal to have some questions about orthodontic treatment. We’ll answer some of the most commonly- asked questions to help you get a better understanding of all that orthodontics entails.

What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?

We are seeing more dentists offer some forms of orthodontic treatment in their offices, so we often have patients ask us this question. It is important to first know that while every orthodontist is a dentist, not every dentist is an orthodontist. Orthodontics is a dental specialty that requires additional training and education after graduating from dental school. Think of it as the difference between a primary care physician and a cardiologist. Your primary care physician is wonderful at helping you maintain your overall health, but if you have an issue with your heart, you will visit a cardiologist who is trained in that area of care. Orthodontics should likewise be considered in the same manner. To be called an orthodontist, after a dentist graduates from dental school, he or she must attend an accredited orthodontic residency program for two to three years.

What is the best age to see an orthodontist?

If you have never seen an orthodontist before, the age you are now is the best age! However, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an orthodontist for the first time around the age of 7. If you are an adult and think you can benefit from orthodontic treatment, there is no time like the present to make that first appointment. Today, nearly one in four orthodontic patients is an adult.

If I don’t see anything wrong with my child’s smile, is an orthodontic consultation really necessary?

Orthodontic consultations are important because there can be issues present that you may not be able to see. Orthodontics is concerned with not just making sure the teeth are straight, but ensuring the bite is lined up properly. An orthodontic consultation can tell us how your child’s jaw is developing, and let us know if we may need to intervene to ensure proper growth to accommodate all of the teeth. Beginning a relationship with an orthodontist at an early age can help us prevent more serious issues from arising later.

Should we wait to begin treatment until all baby teeth have been replaced by permanent teeth?

In some instances, if we wait this long, we may be too late. Beginning treatment at an early age allows us to guide the growth of the jaw, and thereby make the most welcoming environment for the permanent teeth to erupt. Early interventive treatment can make later treatment more efficient and effective, and prevent the need for extractions or jaw surgery.

What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

The first consultation is fairly quick. We take images, both via digital scan and X-ray, so that we can get a complete idea of what is happening in your mouth, Dr. Pavlo will also do a physical examination. These images and examination will help him formulate his treatment plan so he can recommend options to assist you in achieving the smile of your dreams. If treatment is indicated, he will discuss the options with you as well as potential costs

Will I know if my child needs orthodontic treatment?

Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to tell. Subtle discrepancies in your child’s bite may not be noticeable to you, but they can wreak havoc on their smile. The only sure way to know if your child could benefit from treatment is to schedule an orthodontic consultation.

Isn’t treatment only cosmetic; why can’t we delay treatment?

The idea that orthodontic treatment is cosmetic is a very common misconception. One of our goals is certainly a straighter smile, but we also aim to create a properly-aligned, ideally-functioning bite. A misaligned bite can cause a lot of problems, such as wear of the enamel, chipping, cracking or breaking of the teeth, problems with speaking or chewing, and even jaw and head pain. Additionally, crooked and crowded teeth are harder to clean properly, leaving you more susceptible to decay and gum disease.

How long will treatment last?

This answer is different for everyone. Many factors determine treatment time. Factors such as the treatment option you choose and the severity of your malocclusion come into play. We also have no way of knowing how your teeth will respond to treatment until we begin. You also play a role in your treatment.  If you do not follow your orthodontist’s instructions, you could be altering your treatment time.