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Orthodontists specialize in tooth alignment and jaw correction. Their work consists of diagnosing and treating malocclusions or "bad bites" such as teeth crowding, gaps between the teeth, overbites and underbites. These conditions are often genetic, but they can also be caused by trauma or habits such as thumb-sucking. Through the use of corrective appliances like retainers or braces, orthodontists can prevent or treat such alignment problems. The result is teeth and jaws that function well, with a pleasing facial balance.


*Getting orthodontic work done isn't cheap. Minor adjustments, which might require treatment for three to six months, can cost between $600 and $1,500.

Orthodontists limit their practices to the field of orthodontics so they can focus on correcting misaligned teeth and jaw problems. 

Surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, is a type of treatment with Long-term results.









  1. What are some of the most common benefits of this treatment?
  2. How are the treatments performed?
  3. How long do the treatments take?
  4. How much pain is there?
  5. What can I expect afterward?
  6. Ideal candidate:
  7. Other important information:
  8. Risks and Limitations:


What are some of the most common benefits of orthodontics?

Feeling comfortable with your appearance is important for social and professional success. Orthodontics has helped many people build their self-confidence by restoring facial balance and the natural beauty of a smile.

Misaligned teeth also contribute to poor dental health. They can be hard to clean, which often leads to tooth decay or gum disease. They can cause chewing problems too, resulting in jaw, head, and neck aches.

If you're considering orthodontics, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to some of the most common procedures. For more detailed information about how these procedures may help you, we recommend that you consult a member of the American Association of Orthodontists.

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How are the orthodontic treatments performed?

During the initial consultation, you'll be able to talk with your dentist about the changes you would like to make in your appearance. He/she will explain the different options available to you, the procedure itself, and its risks and limitations. The doctor will also discuss cost estimates, since fees vary according to the length and difficulty of the case.

Your doctor will begin with a complete medical history and examine your mouth and jaw. He/she may also take photos and give you specific instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. Often, plaster molds of the mouth are taken, and your doctor may order several types of x-rays.

Take this opportunity to ask all the questions you have about the procedure. Also ask for, and follow up on, patient references. Learning everything you can about your options, risks and benefits is the key to making an informed decision. See "Questions to Ask Your Dentist" below.

Orthodontic treatments are tailored to your specific problem, age, and growth rate. The following is an overview of the most common types of appliances and procedures:

Braces: Braces are sets of brackets and wires that apply pressure to the teeth, guiding them into the correct position. The brackets are bonded to the teeth, and the wires run through the brackets from tooth to tooth. Braces are often used to straighten crooked teeth and align the top and bottom rows of teeth. They are made in a variety of materials, including metal and ceramics, and come in a variety of colors. "Invisible" braces are attached to the inside of the teeth, but they are more expensive and harder to adjust than traditional braces and may cause difficulty speaking.

Retainers: Retainers are removable or fixed appliances usually made of acrylic, metal or a combination of both. "Tooth positioners" are a type of rubber retainer that resembles a mouthguard. Retainers are worn after braces are removed to keep the teeth and jaws in place until they are accustomed to their new positions.

Bite Planes: Also called dental splints, bite planes are acrylic and wire appliances used to correct problems such as a deep overbite, a condition in which the upper front teeth excessively overlap the lower front teeth. Bite planes are removable for cleaning but should be worn consistently for best results.

Functional Appliances: Functional appliances are used to adjust the position of the teeth and jaws. For instance, if the lower jaw is growing more slowly than the upper jaw, a functional appliance can help adjust the balance between the two. Made of plastic and wires, these appliances are removable for cleaning but should be worn continuously. Until the wearer becomes accustomed to it, this device can create excess saliva and difficulty speaking normally.

Headgear: Headgear refers to a system of straps around the head or neck that is attached to braces. It is used to speed the straightening of teeth and to guide the direction of their movement. Neck strap headgear keeps the upper jaw from growing or pulls the upper teeth back. High-pull headgear aligns the upper and lower rows of teeth by pulling the upper jaw and teeth up and back. The lower jaw grows forward during this time and "catches up". Combination headgear uses both the neck and high-pull types.

Dentofacial Orthopedics: Dentofacial orthopedics refers to fixed or removable devices worn by growing children to balance the size of the upper and lower jaws, helping the teeth to fit together properly. These appliances guide jaw growth so when the child's permanent teeth grow in, they will be in the correct position.

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How long do the treatments take?

The length of orthodontic treatment depends on the growth rate of the patient, the severity of the condition, and how consistently the patient wears the prescribed orthodontic device.

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How much pain is there?

Most patients experience soreness after an appliance is first put in and each time the appliance is adjusted. The teeth and gums may remain tender for three to five days after an adjustment. Minor pain medication can relieve these symptoms.

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What can I expect afterward?

You may find it more difficult to clean your teeth if you have a non-removable appliance, but don't let this deter you from maintaining good oral hygiene. Plan on regular follow-up visits with your orthodontist to make sure the appliance is working properly.

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Ideal candidate:

In general, the best candidates for orthodontics are:

  • Having most or all permanent teeth erupted (age 11 to12)
  • Wanting to improve their appearance and/or comfort
  • Realistic in their expectations
  • Mature enough to understand the procedure (if a child); knowledgeable about the procedure (if an adult)

The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your dentist will consider in determining whether or not orthodontics is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your dentist if he / she considers you an ideal candidate for this treatment.

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Other important information:

Since teeth can be moved at any age, orthodontic procedures are beneficial for both children and adults. However, many problems are more easily corrected earlier in the growth cycle, so we recommend that children be examined by an orthodontist by the age of seven to determine whether treatment is needed.

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Risks and Limitations:

Wearers of dental appliances must be careful to maintain good oral hygiene. If food debris is allowed to build up around the appliance, the patient is at greater risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

In rare instances, an appliance may break or become loose, which could cut or irritate the mouth. If this happens, notify your orthodontist's office.

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The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

*Disclaimer: Source: Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may also vary depending on location.

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