Santa Barbara Orthodontist - Drs. Edstrom, Trigonis & Swenson | Common Questions
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What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Braces are one of the most common types of appliances or devices used to make these corrections.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a highly trained specialist who has completed two to three years of additional training after graduating from dental school. An orthodontist not only straightens teeth but is also interested in the bite, facial profile, oral growth, and overall health of the patient’s mouth.

How do braces straighten crooked teeth?

Braces use steady, gentle pressure over time to move teeth into their proper positions. At times your braces may seem like they’re not doing much, but in fact, they are helping to continue your progress down the path of your treatment plan, to help you get the smile of your dreams. In order to create this gentle pressure mentioned above, we bend the arch wire to create your ideal bite and ideal tooth position. The wire threads through the brackets and, as the wire tries to return to its original shape, it applies pressure to move your teeth. Picture your tooth resting in your jawbone. With pressure on one side from the arch wire, the bone on the other side gives way. The tooth moves and new bone grows in behind it. Thanks to new materials and procedures, this process now happens faster than ever before!

How does INVISALIGN work?

Invisalign takes a modern approach to straightening teeth, using a custom-made series of aligners created for you and only you. These aligners are made of smooth, comfortable and virtually invisable plastic that you simply wear over your teeth. Wearing the aligners will gradually and gently shift your teeth into place, based on the exact movements your orthodontist plans out for you. There are no metal brackets to attach and no wires to tighten. You simply pop in a new set of aligners approximately every two weeks, until your treatment is complete and you achieve the confident smile that you’ve always wanted. The best part about the whole process is that most people won’t even know you’re straightening your teeth!

How can I tell if my child needs orthodontic treatment?

In accordance with the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), we recommend that you bring your child in for an initial orthodontic evaluation before the age of 7 years old.  At this time, the orthodontist will evaluate your child to make sure that their teeth are growing in normally and that there will be enough room for their permanent teeth.  If the doctor believes that the patient will need some treatment to correct an emerging orthodontic problem, he will then determine what type of treatment is necessary, and recommend the appropriate steps needed to help avoid a more lengthy and involved treatment in the future.

Am I too old for braces?

No. If the bone and gum tissue around the teeth are healthy, age is not a factor. About 40% of our orthodontic patients are adults. Adults can be treated successfully at any age. In fact, a study conducted by the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) in 2013, determined that adults are now seeking orthodontic treatment in record numbers! As more adults seek orthodontic treatment, so do their friends and family who see the noticeable changes in both the confidence, personal and professional success of their friends post-orthodontic treatment. For many adults, it is not until later in life that they finally feel they are able to treat themselves to the smile they’ve always wanted, and/or to treat orthodontic problems that have worsened over time. No matter your age, investing in orthodontic treatment is one of the best investments you can make in your overall health and wellness. According to the AAO, 92% of adults surveyed said they would recommend orthodontic treatment to other adults!

Will additional jaw growth allow self correction of crowded teeth visible in an 8 year old?

No. The space available for the front teeth does not increase after the permanent 6-year molars erupt. In most people, the space available for the front teeth decreases with increasing age.

Is there a chance that my child's bite will get better on its own?

Usually, it is just the opposite. With time, orthodontic problems almost always get worse.

What causes crooked teeth?

We inherit mouth and jaw features from our parents. Other factors such as finger sucking, high cavity rate, gum disease, trauma, or premature loss of baby teeth can also contribute to a bad bite.

Can I have my teeth straightened without having braces glued to my teeth?

Yes. If all the permanent teeth are erupted, utilizing Invisalign is sometimes an option. Another possibility involves using active removable retainers to align the teeth.

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Will braces correct TMD or jaw joint problems?

Braces may or may not improve jaw joint problems. A thorough evaluation must be performed to evaluate the best approach for every individual experiencing these problems. Many times conservative treatment options can be very effective.

How long do you have to wear braces?

That depends a lot on you and how severe your bite problem is to begin with. The better you are about wearing and taking care of your braces, the sooner your teeth will improve.

Will any teeth be pulled?

We strive for non-extraction treatment whenever possible, but sometimes teeth must be removed. Don’t worry, if you need teeth removed, the spaces will be closed and no one will even notice.

Will it hurt to put the braces on?

Not usually. Drs. Edstrom & Trigonis and their highly-trained orthodontic assistants take special care in placing your braces to make your experience as comfortable as possible. Thanks to the advances in modern technology, the procedure to put on your braces is quite easy. Your teeth are first polished, then prepared, so the doctor can place each bracket on the front surface of your tooth. We use very small brackets to help maximize your comfort.

Are braces uncomfortable?

How long do braces take to put on?
Each person finds braces quite different. Placing braces takes about an hour. However, it is a relatively painless procedure. The following couple of days the teeth may be slightly uncomfortable, however they soon settle down and you get used to the new feeling. Patients generally adjust very quickly to the braces and before you know it is it just another part of everyday life.

My son/daughter wants to play sports. Will braces interfere?

Orthodontic mouth guards have allowed patients to continue participation in sports while they have braces. If you would like to purchase a mouth guard, please speak with one of our orthodontic or front desk assistants and they will make sure to get you one.

My child plays the trumpet. Will his ability to play be affected by orthodontic treatment?

Most patients report no change in the ability to play their instruments with braces.

What do rubber bands do?

Rubber bands (elastics) contribute significantly to bite correction. Attached to your braces, elastics exert the force that creates the right amount of pressure to move teeth in directions that the braces alone can’t. It’s important to wear your elastics as prescribed and change them every day so the force is constant. A lack of consistency in wearing rubber bands can bring treatment to a standstill. Teeth never fail to move when elastics are worn consistently as directed.