This is a recent article published by a great friend of mine and Fry Orthodontic Specialists, Dr. Ben Burris:
We all want the best for our children. To provide our kids with the advantages we didn’t have is every parent’s dream! Achieving the dream can be difficult and even a little overwhelming. There are so many things to consider: time constraints, budget concerns and who to trust just to name a few. All of our endeavors as parents are undertaken in order to raise healthy, happy and confident children who will thrive and contribute to our community. Orthodontics can be an integral piece to this puzzle.
In some respects, getting braces has become a right of passage. For children (and adults) who need braces, it can make a tremendous difference in their outlook on life. When a person who does not feel good about his or her smile is able to have orthodontic treatment and become comfortable and confident, it is a life-changing experience! Being able to give a person confidence and self-esteem is the most fulfilling and satisfactory part of our job. We love what we do! We want everyone to experience the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes with having a great smile and the confidence to show the world. Nothing warms a room, a relationship or changes attitudes like a great smile!
The great news is that getting braces has become so comfortable, convenient and affordable that virtually everyone can now afford do give the wonderful gift of a great smile to their children (or themselves!). The days of having to see the orthodontist every month, painful bands and separators, headgear and high down payments are in the past! Modern technology, modern convenience and modern financing make braces more attractive and affordable now than ever before. Let’s look at a few of the common questions and explore the latest advances.
When should I take my child to the orthodontist? This is the most common question by far. In the past, people were told to wait until all the baby teeth are gone and then wait for their dentist to refer them to the orthodontist. These days, however, it is a whole different ballgame. Advances in technology have made it possible to identify and address problems before they turn into a “train wreck” necessitating the removal of adult teeth and braces. If your child sees the orthodontist at age 7 (or at least before age 10) the options and tools available for optimum treatment are greatly increased. In the vast majority of cases, no treatment is necessary on young children, the orthodontist is able to monitor growth and development and then intercede at exactly the right time if necessary. Sometimes having an orthodontist monitor your child from an early age and addressing minor issues through non-orthodontic means can help avoid situations becoming worse over time and even avoid the “need” for braces all together! The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening by age 7 so do yourself and your child a favor and call an orthodontist to set up an appointment. Many times the initial appointments, X-rays and records are even free! A dental referral is not necessary to set up a time to see the orthodontist.
How much do braces cost? This is the second most popular question. Each case is different and no orthodontist can diagnose your child over the phone! Go see the orthodontist for a visit and become educated on what is necessary (if anything), how long treatment will take and how much it will cost. Once you have all the information, then you can decide what is best for your family. Financing orthodontic treatment has changed dramatically in the last few years. The days of requiring thousands of dollars as a down payment are long gone. Today’s orthodontists will help you by accepting insurance, lowering down payments, extending payment times, working with cafeteria plans, automatically drafting your credit card or bank account and many other conveniences.
Will my child have to have braces twice? One of the great things about the advances in orthodontics is that now we can use orthopedics to address problems with the bones and jaws early in a child’s life to enhance and improve the smile and bite. When necessary, early treatment addresses bite and jaw issues before the adult teeth come in. In these cases, the first phase of orthopedic treatment usually ends before the adult teeth erupt. When that happens, it is usually necessary for the child to have a second phase of treatment to align the adult teeth after they erupt. This two phase treatment is not the norm but it can make tremendous positive changes for a child who has major issues and sees the orthodontist young enough. Many times early treatment can help avoid the removal or extraction of permanent teeth later in life and we are all about avoiding that!
Do braces hurt? Just like wearing a new pair of fancy shoes, when you first get braces there is some discomfort and rubbing. However, just as is the case with your new footwear after a few days of breaking them in and getting used to them, things are right as rain. By using the latest low-friction braces and new technology, braces are more comfortable than ever before and treatment times are shorter and shorter (assuming that the patient does what he or she is told, doesn’t break things, wears elastics and keeps the teeth very clean). There is some discomfort. No question. However, it is well worth a little discomfort to earn a lifetime of great smiles.
How do they stick the braces to my teeth? People are often worried that we drill into teeth to attach the braces. Nothing could be further from the truth! We simply glue the braces to the teeth. Also, when the braces come off, we have special tools that make this process easy as well.
What happens at the first visit to the orthodontist? Your first visit to the orthodontist is a fun and exciting time. You will be greeted by the nice ladies behind the counter who will help you sign in. Once that is done, the records expert will come meet the patient and parent and take them to the records area. For the doctor to have a complete picture of what is going on and what treatment is necessary (if any) photos and X-rays of the patient will be necessary. The records process only takes a few minutes and is completely painless. It is fun to see the teeth up close and personal! Once the records are done, you will meet the Treatment Coordinator. The TC will be your liaison with the doctor and help you through the process. After a tour of the office and meeting the team, the TC will discuss in detail what the main concerns of the patient and parent are, take some notes and then bring in the orthodontist to have a look. The orthodontist will look at the patient and records and explain if treatment is necessary. This is when time, cost and the other aspects of treatment are explained. Since you and the orthodontist will all essentially be “family” during the year or two of treatment, it is vital that a good relationship is established and everything is explained in great detail before any treatment is started. By the end of your new patient appointment, the patient and parent will be educated about what is going on and what is required to create a great smile. Education is power and we believe it is incredibly important that everyone is clear on the plan before treatment begins.
Can adults have braces? Absolutely! The first patient I ever put braces on was 73 years old! You are never too old to improve your smile! Metal braces are still the gold standard when it comes to efficacy but there are several other options that are attractive to adults. Clear braces and Invisalign are excellent options in many cases. Many adults have treatment with their children because it is convenient to come to appointments together, the financing is such that it is affordable and it is a great bonding experience!
What’s the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist? All orthodontists completed dental school and are dentists. The difference is that orthodontists went a step further and completed 2-3 more years of full time residency. Orthodontists specialize in aligning teeth and jaws. That is all we do! There is something to be said for doing one thing and doing it extremely well. Orthodontics and the process of getting braces has changed tremendously over the last few years. Forget all the things you had to endure as a child, the lack of affordability and the painful process. Things are different now! Change is good. Call and make an appointment to see an orthodontist today. It will change your child’s life…
Dr. Ben Burris, Orthodontist in Jonesboro Arkansas.