Orthodontic FAQ

What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. After graduation from college and then dental school, the American Dental Association requires an orthodontist to have at least two years of advanced training in orthodontics in an accredited program.

What causes orthodontic problems?
Either genetics or environmental factors can influence the development of the jaw and muscles and cause orthodontic problems. Genetic factors include extra teeth, missing teeth, or too much or too little room for the teeth, and a wide variety of other irregularities of the jaws, teeth and face.

Environmental factors include oral habits, such as thumb, finger or pacifier sucking, airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids, premature loss of primary (baby) or permanent teeth. Whether inherited or environmental, many of these problems affect not only alignment of the teeth but also facial and jaw development.

Is there a age limit for adult orthodontics?
No! Healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age. Patients who have healthy teeth and supporting structures are never too old for orthodontic therapy. 1 in 5 orthodontic patients is an adult. The American Association of Orthodontics estimates that nearly 1,000,000 adults in the United States and Canada are receiving orthodontic care.

What is the difference between adult and teenage orthodontic treatment?
One difference between adult and teenage orthodontic treatment is the treatment takes longer. You heal more slowly as you age. The orthodontist needs to move your teeth more slowly in order to let your mouth heal between appointments.

It is also more difficult to enlarge your mouth, so all your teeth fit. When you were growing, your jaw was pliable and the orthodontist could stretch your mouth so there was room for your teeth. Once you stop growing your jaw hardens, making it difficult to stretch. While surgical enlargement of the jaw is an option, most adults deciding to have orthodontic treatment do not have their jaw enlarged. As a result, removal of one or more teeth may be necessary.

Do all children with orthodontic problems require interceptive treatment?

No. The need for interceptive or early orthodontics must be determined on an individual basis. After a thorough exam, the orthodontist will advise the parents if benefits outweigh the time and effort involved in early treatment or should their child wait until more permanent teeth are in place.

Is orthodontic treatment expensive?

Orthodontic treatment may eliminate the need for other medical and dental treatment. Considering the physical and psychological benefits usually last a lifetime, orthodontics is one of the best investments in healthcare and quality of life!

There are budget options available so that finances don’t stand between the patient and necessary treatment.

What are the patient’s responsibilities in the treatment process?

Patient participation and cooperation is crucial. Success comes easiest when the patient and parent are active participates of our dental team! A patient must:

  • Keep appointments.
  • Have regular dental check-ups.
  • Maintain excellent oral hygiene to avoid damage to gums and teeth.
  • Wear appliances as recommended.
  • Communicate to us any concerns you may have.

Pediatric Dental Center
Warren, MI
Dr. Shah, Dr. O’Riordan