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Orthodontic professional showing a patient a model of a mouth that has two different types of braces on it.

Did you know that an orthodontist is different than a dentist? Orthodontics is a dental specialty all its own, that has different goals and processes than what dentists do. There are many ways to fix the teeth and many methods that have been tried for many centuries. Find out the amazing history of orthodontics and some facts you may not know!

 

History of Orthodontics

People have been straightening their teeth since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, as can be seen from mummies from this era. Even the Romans and Etruscans used crude orthodontic straightening methods to get a better smile. Many philosophers hypothesized better ways to straighten the teeth. A Roman writer Celsus (1 A.D.) thought the teeth could be pushed into place. Pliny—around the same time—thought the teeth could be filed to be the ideal shape and size.

 

It wasn’t until 1728 that Pierre Fauchard—or the “Father of Dentistry”—made great strides with orthodontics. He first practiced crudely removing the teeth, replacing them straight, and tying them to other teeth so they could heal straighter. From his influence and others after him, modern orthodontics came to be. Matthaeus Gottfried Purmann developed dental impressions in the 17th century. In the early U.S. years, barbers and medical professionals experimented and performing small orthodontic treatments. This was until the first dental school was established in 1828.

 

Afterwards, J.S. Gunnell invented a form of headgear that was successful in straightening the teeth. Dental students and professionals figured out how to make a metal appliance to straighten individual teeth, which led to the now-used bracket and wire design in modern orthodontics. Before 1970, orthodontists wrapped wires around each tooth and required that headgear to straighten. This practice involved lots of metal in the mouth, which is why a better form (that we use today) was invented in the following years. Now, in the last 20 years lingual braces (braces behind the teeth) and Invisalign (transparent aligners) were invented to allow patients a hidden apparatus with orthodontics.

 

Close-up view of clear braces on a patient's teeth.

What Do Orthodontists Do?

Did you know that orthodontists are dentists? Every orthodontist is a dentist because they have completed dental school and then some. However, not all dentists are orthodontists. The standard requirements for dentists are to complete 4 years of undergraduate schooling and then 4 years at a dental school. They will have to pass exams and become certified to do dental work. Orthodontists do all of those 8 years, plus they complete 2-3 more years of orthodontics, training in bite and alignment correction and surgical orthodontics. All throughout their career, both dentists and orthodontists must do continuing education courses as well as pass tests to continue working.

 

An orthodontist will not fix your cavity even though they may spot the signs of tooth decay. Often, an orthodontist works closely with a dentist, as both professionals work on your mouth. What one professional doesn’t do, the other will do. Dentists do everything relating to tooth decay (cavities), gum disease and other oral health diseases as well as remedying dental emergencies. An orthodontist performs services that a dentist doesn’t do such as:

  • Bite and alignment correction in children and adults (child orthodontics and adult orthodontics)
  • Surgical orthodontics, which is surgery to help remedy a misaligned jaw or bite.
  • Braces design, fitting, adjusting and complete process with lingual braces, ceramic (clear) braces, traditional metal, and Invisalign treatment.
  • Training in placing temporary anchorage devices, which are tiny screws in the mouth that push, pull, lift or intrude teeth that are being straightened.
  • Designing and creating retainer devices to keep bite, alignment and teeth in proper position.

 

Facts About Braces

  • An orthodontist must complete 4 years of dental school, plus 3700 hours or specialized training in orthodontics to get their degree.
  • There are more than 19,000 orthodontist members under the American Association of Orthodontics in the U.S., Canada and abroad.
  • 1 in 4 people with braces are adults.
  • Children make up another 1/4th of people wearing braces to correct bite and alignment.
  • Because of modern technology, all four of your dental options (lingual, metal, ceramic and Invisalign) can straighten your teeth in about the same amount of time.
  • It is possible to only get braces in either your upper or lower jaw if the other jaw is straight.
  • The jaws stop growing as a child ages. That growth stops towards the end of the teenage years around 17 or 18. Straightening the teeth is effective for people after this age, but it may take longer than it would for children.
  • Patients generally see their orthodontist every 6-10 weeks for braces adjustments. Patients with severe bite and alignment issues may need to come in more often.
  • Orthodontists often usually have “DDS” or “DMD” after their names. This stands for “Doctor of Dental Surgery” and “Doctor of Dental Medicine”. Both are considered equal degrees, but the degree given depends on the dental school attended before orthodontic training.
  • Materials used in metal braces are so light that they won’t set off metal detectors in airports.

 

Close-up view of a woman with clear braces on her teeth that are being adjusted by an orthodontic professional.

How Do Orthodontics Help People?

If you’ve never been to an orthodontist, you may wonder why you need one. Not everyone may need orthodontics to correct bite and alignment issues, but everyone should see an orthodontist at some point. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that every person have an orthodontic visit between ages 7 and 8. This is prime time to detect bite and alignment issues that would lead to crooked teeth, speech impediments, oral hygiene diseases, and problems chewing, biting and functioning normally.

 

When issues are found, they can quickly be corrected so children can grow and develop normally. If a teen or adult wants to straighten their teeth to boost their confidence and success, they can receive braces starting around age 11. For specific questions about our orthodontic services, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303 225-9016!

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Woman with clear braces that is smiling at the camera.

If you are an adult with crooked teeth, you may think that you already missed your opportunity to get braces. However, adult braces are very popular. In fact, at least 1/4th of all braces wearers are adults. You simply might not see braces on many of your peers because adults have a couple orthodontic options that stay hidden in the mouth. Find out if you should choose to have adult braces, what the benefits are, and what options you have to straighten your teeth discreetly!

 

Do Adults Wear Braces?

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that every person have an orthodontic evaluation between the ages of 7 and 8. This is prime time for orthodontists to correct bite and alignment issues that can become severe as a child ages. However, not everyone knows that they need to see an orthodontist, nor do many people have the means to receive orthodontic care due to cost. That opportunity may come when you are an adult. Have you missed the mark if you’re already an adult instead of a child? Certainly not!

 

Orthodontic treatment is a bit harder when you are an adult, but it is not too tricky for us to manage. Orthodontists recommend that children and teens get braces for bite, alignment and issues with crooked tooth when young. This is because the jaws are still growing and the teeth and jaws are more moldable until a teen grows older. As an adult, the jaws have hardened into place, so shifting the teeth and jaws is much more difficult.

 

However, modern technology definitely allows adults to change their smiles as they please. In fact, 1/4th of all people wearing braces are adults! Adult braces are becoming more and more popular as jobs become more competitive. Adult braces can really give people the edge they need to succeed because it creates a more beautiful, straight smile.

 

Close-up view of a woman's mouth that has Invisalign transparent aligners on the teeth.

Benefits of Choosing Adult Braces

There is more than just the aesthetics of receiving adult braces. Getting braces can not only improve your appearance, but they can radically change your oral health. Did you know that your risk for tooth decay and gum disease is significantly less with braces? This is because the teeth become straighter, getting rid of all the nooks and crannies plaque and bacteria cluster in with crooked teeth. The teeth are easier to clean, and your smile looks much better, so you’ll actually want to clean your teeth more often.

 

Many people do love what adult braces can offer their smile. The main advantage is confidence. Many studies have been conducted on the confidence that a smile can bring not only to a person but to others. When you feel self-conscious of how your teeth look, you’re less likely to show your smile to others. This can happen even with children, who may become more introverted because they are self-conscious. However, when smiles are healthy and straight, people tend to show them off more. The more smiling, the more confidence a person feels and the more likely they are to be perceived as such.

 

The company that invented Invisalign actually conducted studies about this very thing. They found that people who had better, straighter smiles appeared much more confident than those with crooked smiles. The patients themselves felt 60% happier, more attractive and more successful, and others saw them as such. Those with straight smiles were more likely to land a job over their competition and were more likely to be successful with home, school and social life. They were also perceived as 72% more trustworthy just based on first impressions. The benefits of adult braces are endless and all benefit you!

 

What Options Do You Have?

Adults have all the orthodontic options available to them for straightening:

  • Traditional Metal Braces: Consists of a metal bracket and wire design.
  • Ceramic Braces: These are very similar to traditional braces, except they are made from white, ceramic material that helps hide them in the mouth. Ceramic material helps prevent tooth demineralization.
  • Lingual Adult Braces: These are metal braces that fit behind the teeth and are bonded to the backs of your teeth. Molds are made of the teeth so that the metal can be custom-made to cover your teeth. This option is a preferred one among adults seeking adult braces.
  • Invisalign: This orthodontic treatment consists of transparent aligners that are customized to your mouth with a digital machine. You will get a new aligner each week, which you place in your mouth like a retainer. They stay hidden in your mouth, can be removed for regular oral hygiene cleaning and eating, and you get a better smile!

 

Woman looking towards the camera and smiling while she is about to put transparent orthodontic aligners in her mouth.

What Can You Expect?

Many people aren’t quite sure what to expect from their first orthodontic visit, as orthodontists don’t do the same work that dentists do. Dr. Hardy will meet with you for an oral evaluation and orthodontics consultation. He will examine your bite and alignment and will determine your candidacy for specific procedures if they are needed. Oral health issues—such as periodontal (gum) disease—will have to be resolved before the teeth can be straightened.

 

If bite and alignment issues are not present, you can move forward with regular straightening treatment. Dr. Hardy will take impressions of your teeth and will plan out a trajectory of your orthodontic plan. This is where you can know how long you will wear braces and how your mouth should look by the end of your treatment. You will also choose which orthodontic option you would like (traditional, lingual, ceramic or Invisalign) so that appliances can be made to fit your mouth.

 

After your consultation, your next appointment will be your braces fitting. After that, it’s easy to care for your mouth between quick adjustment appointments. Always brush and floss your teeth, and do these two habits more often than you used to. If you are wanting adult braces, consider Invisalign or lingual braces, as these options keep your orthodontics concealed if you need them to be. For all your questions about adult braces, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!