About Orthodontic Care

What is an orthodontist, and can my general dentist do braces?

  • An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in diagnosing, preventing and treating dental and facial irregularities. Our goal is to align your teeth, lips and jaws, so your facial structure functions properly and looks balanced.
  • To become one of the 6% of dentists who are also qualified orthodontic specialists, it’s necessary to complete 2-3 additional years of advanced education in the design, installation and management of various corrective devices.
  • A general dentist is allowed to do braces as well as many other procedures. If you are receiving orthodontic treatment from a dentist who does any other dental procedures, chances are he is not a qualified orthodontic specialist.

Why is treatment important?

A great smile can dramatically boost your self-confidence, but that’s not the only benefit. Treatment resolves structural problems that can grow more bothersome and costly over time. For example, crooked, crowded teeth are hard to clean. This can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and even tooth loss. Likewise, a poor bite can impair chewing function and cause chronic pain in the face, neck or head. We can resolve these problems – permanently improving the way you look and feel.

Can I tell by looking at my teeth if I need an Orthodontist?

Probably not. Even when your teeth look straight, you may have underlying structural problems. On the other hand, some very visible problems can resolve themselves without intervention. Talking to your general dentist is a good start. However, we offer a specialist's perspective. There's no charge for an initial exam with Dr. Hoff- even if you don't need additional services.

What causes Orthodontic problems?

Most problems are inherited, but some are the result of accidents, illness or habits (such as thumb sucking and pacifier dependence). Regardless of the cause, many problems involve not only tooth alignment, but also facial development and appearance.

What problems are most common?

We often see these symptoms:

  • Crowding – insufficient room for teeth because they’re large and/or the jaw line is narrow
  • Spacing – gaps form between teeth because they’re small and/or the jaw line is broad
  • Overbite – the lower front teeth bite into the upper palate or into gums behind the upper front teeth
  • Underbite – the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw, so lower front teeth extend beyond upper teeth
  • Overjet – upper front teeth protrude beyond normal contact with lower teeth
  • Open Bite – front teeth don’t touch, forcing back teeth to perform all chewing functions

I have pain in my jaw- Can you help?

Most likely, yes. jaw discomfort and muscle soreness typically stem from chronic teeth grinding or clenching. This can severely wear the teeth and overload jaw joint structures. We'll diagnose the source of your pain and if appropriate, provide an appliance to protect your teeth and help your muscles relax. We can also help repair structural damage that has occurred.

I've lost some teeth- Can you help?

Yes. When you lose a tooth, the remaining teeth tend to drift, tip or shift. Movement can create a poor bite and uneven spacing that must be resolved before other dental work is performed. We can align and stabilize your teeth in their ideal position.

I've had crooked teeth for decades, what is likely to happen?

We can restore healthy functioning and reverse years of damage from misaligned teeth. When your teeth work better, you'll feel better- and chances are, you'll look better too. No matter what your age, the change can improve your quality of life.

If I don't get treatment, what is likely to happen?

When left untreated, many orthodontic problems become worse. The earlier you correct the original problem, the sooner you can avoid the discomfort and cost of dealing with more serious problems that develop over time. Also, without treatment, you'll never enjoy the self-confidence that comes from improving your appearance.

How does treatment work?

After Dr. Hoff examines your teeth and jaws, he'll prescribe one or more custom-designed oral appliances. They may be plastic, ceramic or metal and are either removable or bonded to your teeth in a fixed position by applying constant, gentle force in a precise direction, these appliances slowly modify your jaw structure or move your teeth to a desired position within their supporting bone. During treatment, you'll need to visit Dr. Hoff monthly for progress checks and routine adjustments.

How long does treatment last?

Every patient is unique. You may need to wear braces for only 6 months or as long as 30 months. It depends on your age, the severity of your problem, your body's responsiveness to corrective devices and your willingness to follow instructions. Before your treatment begins, Dr. Hoff will perform a complimentary exam to determine the best course of action for your situation.

Does treatment hurt?

Today's technology isn't considered painful because it's designed to minimize discomfort. However, when braces are applied or adjusted, your teeth may feel a bit sore or tender for a few days. Also, the inside of your mouth may be irritated for a week or two, as your lips, cheeks and tongue become familiar with the surfaces on your braces. Advil or similar over-the-counter pain reliever can help you feel your best as your body adapts.

Do invisible braces work?

Thanks to advanced technology, braces are less visible and more efficient than ever. Dr. Hoff is proficient in the latest techniques, such as "clear" ceramic braces and Invisalign plastic removable aligners. He'll recommend a system for you based on three key factors:

  • Your specific problem
  • Your aesthetic concerns
  • Your budget

Do my teeth need special care while I wear braces?

Success depends deeply on your cooperation. Damaged appliances or poor dental hygiene can increase the cost and duration of treatment and jeopardize your results. You should:

  • Avoid hard or sticky foods that might harm braces
  • Carefully clean your teeth and floss daily
  • Attend all scheduled maintenance appointments
  • Never forget to wear rubber bands or other appliances as instructed

Also, it's important to continue visiting your regular dentist and/or if appropriate, your periodontist, to be sure your teeth and gums remain healthy throughout treatment.

Most likely, a retainer will play a vital role in your treatment. When worn as directed after braces are removed, a retainer holds your teeth in place until the bones and gums can properly support them. It ensures that your improvements will last a lifetime.

How long must I wear a retainer?

Typically, your teeth will stabilize after wearing a retainer for 12 months. However, in adulthood, teeth sometimes shift. This movement tends to slow as adults approach their 30's, but it can continue throughout life. Even teens with a naturally perfect bite may develop problems as adults. Therefore, once your initial full-time retainer phase is complete, Dr. Hoff may suggest that you prevent further movement by wearing your retainer at night once or twice a month, or by wearing a permanently bonded retainer invisible from the outside.


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