Cosmetic Dentistry Orthodontics

An orthodontist is a dental specialist that corrects misaligned teeth and jaws through orthodontic braces, headgear and other procedures.

Orthodontics is different from cosmetic dentistry because, along with correcting cosmetic issues, it also fixes medical problems caused by misalignment, such as breathing problems and sleep apnea. Typically, a dentist will work on some cosmetic issues but send patients to an orthodontist for more complex teeth alignment issues.

Orthodontic Training

Orthodontic professionals must complete over 10 years of school and training before becoming an orthodontist. Education includes:

  • attending a four-year college
  • attending four years of dental school
  • completing a two to three year residency program accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Reasons to Visit an Orthodontist

Orthodontists can fix a number of cosmetic and medical problems including:

  • breathing problems and snoring caused by misaligned teeth or jaws
  • breathing problems caused by a cleft palette
  • crossbites
  • misaligned teeth
  • overbites
  • underbites.

Common Orthodontic Procedures and Treatments

To fix misaligned teeth and jaw problems, an orthodontist will evaluate the cause of the problem and then apply the proper treatment. Common treatments include:

  • dental braces
  • orthodontic headgear
  • orthodontic retainers.

In severe cases, an orthodontic professional may have to break the jaw in order to realign it to the proper position.

When Children Should Visit an Orthodontist

While children can start visiting an orthodontist at six years old, most orthodontists recommend that children have their first visit to the orthodontist at age seven. This is to ensure that dental alignment issues are caught early. That doesn’t mean that children should start getting treatments at age seven. Instead, these early visits are meant to help the orthodontic professional anticipate future problems.

A Typical Orthodontic Visit

On your first visit to the orthodontist, expect the following:

  • The orthodontist will examine your teeth and jaw and decide whether you need braces or a retainer.
  • The technician or orthodontic assistant will take an X-ray of your teeth and jaw.
  • The technician or orthodontic assistant will take a mold of your mouth and jaw.

While each patient is different, most children with braces are scheduled to see their orthodontic professional every six to eight weeks.

The Cost of Braces and Other Orthodontic Treatments

While the cost of orthodontic treatment varies, expect to pay at least $3,000. The cost of the initial exam is minimal, but a comprehensive orthodontic treatment plan is usually between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on what type of treatment is needed. Keep in mind that orthodontic treatments can be much more expensive if you have severe tooth or jaw alignment issues.

Orthodontic insurance can pay up to 50 percent of the cost of braces and other orthodontic procedures.

Visiting an orthodontic professional can be scary for children and adults alike. Braces and headgear can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but the end result will be a great smile and, in more serious cases, an end to other problems, such as breathing issues.

Resources

Davenport, Tammy (2005). What is an Orthodontist? Retrieved April 11, 2008, from the About.com Web site.

DentalInsuranceHelper.com (n.d.). What Is Orthodontic Dental Insurance? (2006). Retrieved April 11, 2008, from the Dental Insurance Helper Web site.

Goss, Lisa A. (2006). Going to the Orthodontist. Retrieved April 11, 2008, from the Kids Health Web site.

Gunsch, J. (2003). What’s an Orthodontist? Retrieved April 11, 2008, from the WiseGeek Web site.

Sanford Orthodontics. FAQ (2005). Retrieved April 11, 2008, from the Sanford Orthodontic Web site.