Talking to your patients about orthodontics

Sept. 24, 2001
Some answers to some tough orthodontic questions.

Next time a patient has a question about orthodontics, here are some helpful hints for you to soothe his or her mind...

During your six-month dental check-up, you hear the words, "I think you're going to need braces because you have a malocclusion (also known as a bad bite)." You're horrified because you think you're too old to wear braces. In reality, no one is too old to wear braces. In fact, more adults are wearing braces today than in the past 20 years.

Orthodontics is not restrictive, however there may be some differences between adult and child orthodontics. Adult orthodontics may require longer treatment for similar procedures performed on a child. Since an adult's facial bones are less resilient, tooth movement is rather slow. An exact treatment plan will be determined by your orthodontist. But whatever the plan, the end result will be worth it. If you opt for braces, here are some things to look forward to after they come off:

� Cleaning teeth becomes easier because they are lined up correctly on the jaw.

� Healthier gums.

� A more balanced facial appearance.

� The likelihood that teeth will not chip since they do not stick out.

� Orthodontic treatment can prevent premature aging of the digestive system.

Whether you're a traditional or nontraditional orthodontic patient, you need to take special care of teeth during this critical time because teeth are more susceptible to cavities. It's important to brush and floss your teeth. Prior to brushing with toothpaste, it is recommended to brush without paste to remove soft plaque, then brush again with toothpaste. Some patients use electric toothbrushes, waterpiks or other devices to achieve results. It also is recommended to floss teeth with a floss-threader since it makes flossing easier.

Nowadays, orthodontic appliances are more advanced, smaller and less noticeable. If you don't want a mouth full of metal, you can choose clear or ceramic braces. You may even be a candidate for the latest orthodontic treatment method called invisilign.