Orthodontic Treatment

Classification of Teeth Overview

For a brief overview of the classification of teeth, please click on the image below. It will launch our educational module in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about the classifications of teeth.

Classification of Teeth Overview
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What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of misalignments of the teeth and jaw irregularities (malocclusions) using braces, clear aligners and other appliances. Orthodontic problems are often the result of genetic factors, but can be exacerbated by environmental factors such as finger sucking, tongue thrusting, and compromises in the airway.  Orthodontics is not just for esthetic enhancement.  The main purpose of orthodontic treatment is to correct the bite.  Correcting the bite is important for the long term health of the teeth and the TMJ.  It also serves to improve the long term stability of the alignment of the teeth and your beautiful new smile. A properly aligned bite makes it easier to eat, smile and speak!

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What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

Orthodontist, orthodontics, or the mall?  How do you choose?  First, an orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the alignment of teeth and is an expert in recognizing and treating tooth alignment and bite issues.  An orthodontic specialist has an additional three years of full time graduate school training beyond dental school, in a university with an orthodontic residency program.

“Orthodontics”, however, is a generic term that can mean orthodontic treatment performed by an orthodontic specialist, a general dentist, or recently by direct to consumer companies that have popped up online and in the malls.  Confused? Click here to download the “Seven Myths About Orthodontic Treatment” brochure and here to review a Consumer Alert about direct to consumer companies.

What is the difference between an Orthodontist and a Board Certified Orthodontist?

If you assumed all orthodontists are board certified, you are not alone.  Board certification is an achievement few orthodontists attain.  In order to become board certified by the The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO), an individual orthodontist is thoroughly interviewed by a highly respected panel of examiners to demonstrate their orthodontic knowledge, clinical skills and judgment.  The ABO certification process signifies a unique achievement—a significant step beyond the two to three years of advanced education required for a dentist to become a specialist in orthodontics.  The process requires the orthodontist to demonstrate actual accomplishments in patient care with detailed case reports on the treatment provided for a broad range of patient problems.  The American Board of Orthodontics is the only orthodontic specialty board recognized by the American Dental Association and in affiliation with the American Association of Orthodontists.

How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Take?

Treatment typically takes 6-30 months and is dependent upon age, severity of alignment issues, the treatment goals, and the treatment method that is used.

Some practitioners may promise ultra-short treatment times ranging from 3 to 15 months.  While your care may be “completes” within that time frame, your treatment may not really be complete.  Treatment whose goal is to align the teeth is generally faster and less expensive than treatment that straightens the teeth and fixes the bite.  Generally, if a treatment time is projected to be less than 18 months it is likely the treatment will not correct all of the existing problems in the bite.

Teeth can only be moved as fast as the biology permits.  Technology, can’t change the biology of tooth movement significantly.  Claims of superior technology or exclusive technology, which allow for faster treatment are generally overstatements. No practitioner has an exclusive claim on any special technology and most new technologies are utilized by every orthodontist.

What Types of Problems are Treated with Orthodontics?

Some of the most common problems that can be fixed with braces include:

  • Overbites
  • Underbites
  • Crossbites
  • Deep Bites
  • Open Bites
  • Crowding
  • Spacing
  • Cosmetic misalignment

See out “common bite problems” page for more detail.  Your can also view this summary from the American Association of orthodontics which reviews bite problems and general treatment options.

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Here’s a PDF from the AAO about different bite problems.

What is the First Step?

A free orthodontic examination with Dr. Ziaja where we can discuss how to Create the Magic of Your Smile!  Call us at 586-247-6453.