1. Do I need or does my child need orthodontic treatment?

The following signs may indicate that you or your child would benefit from an Orthodontics at Cayman Dental Services evaluation:

  • Thumb or finger sucking
  • Overlapping or crowding of permanent teeth
  • Broken or missing teeth
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Mouth breathing due to allergies, enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids
  • Jaw joints which click, pop or are sore
  • Developing underbite, overbite, crossbite or abnormal bite development
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • Spaces between the teeth
  • Lower jaw shifts from one side to the other when biting together
2. What is the best age for treatment?

Each orthodontic situation determines its best treatment engagement. However, the American Association of Orthodontics recommends children be evaluated by an orthodontist by age seven.Sometimes it is recommended earlier if either a parent or the family dentist notes the problem.

Developmental problems relating to facial growth or eruption of teeth can often be improved or corrected, if diagnosed early. Orthodontic treatment, for any age, is possible as long as there is healthy bone, teeth and gum tissue.

3. What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. An orthodontist is a dentist, but only six percent of dentists are orthodontists.

An orthodontist must first attend college and then complete a four-year dental graduate program accredited by the American Dental Association. In addition, he or she must then successfully complete an additional two to three-year orthodontic residency program.

4. What causes orthodontic problems?

Most orthodontic issues are inherited and cannot be prevented, but some are due to habits or medical and dental problems. Inherited problems involve the jaws, teeth and face.

Crowding of teeth, spacing, extra or missing teeth and/or upper and lower jaw growth abnormalities are some examples of orthodontic problems.

Non-inherited issues include finger habits, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, allergies, asthma, premature loss of baby and/or permanent teeth, and poor dental care.

Regardless of cause, these factors affect the position of teeth as they erupt and the jaw develops throughout the growing years.

5. Why is orthodontic treatment important?
  • To remedy crowded and crooked teeth that are difficult to clean and can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and/or tooth loss
  • To reduce or eliminate abnormal tooth wear or tooth loss
  • To improve poor chewing habits, which cause excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth. TMJ dysfunction of the jaw joints may result and cause headaches, neck problems and joint pain.
  • Left untreated, most orthodontic problems become worse. Orthodontics is usually less expensive than the additional dental care required to address more serious problems that may develop in later years.
  • A great smile is vital to self-confidence and can improve your general attitude about life.
6. How long is the initial exam?

During the initial appointment, which takes approximately one hour, the objective is to determine if orthodontic treatment is recommended and provide an individualized plan in a friendly, caring and enjoyable atmosphere.

The Orthodontics at Cayman Dental Services treatment coordinator will review the orthodontic treatment plan prescribed by the orthodontist, discuss financial arrangements, and answer questions regarding insurance, appointments and treatment concerns.

Although we prefer to evaluate children by age seven, many children are not ready to begin treatment until more permanent teeth come in. After their new patient exam, children who are too young to begin treatment are placed in our Recall Program.

We normally see recall patients every eight to twelve months to observe progress as they grow. This enables us to determine the optimum time to begin treatment and achieve the best possible result for your child. There is no fee for this program.

7. How long is orthodontic treatment?

Treatment periods typically range from one to two years, depending on age, growth of the patient’s mouth and face, severity of the situation and patient cooperation. Patients will respond differently to orthodontic treatment, so the time to case completion may change from the original estimate.

Wearing rubber bands as directed, proper oral hygiene, following the recommended diet to avoid emergencies and keeping scheduled appointments are important factors in completing treatment on time.

8. What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I (early interceptive) is limited orthodontic treatment occurring before all permanent teeth erupt. This treatment, which can include a palatal expander or partial braces, is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth and to correct crossbites, overbites, underbites or harmful oral habits.

Phase II treatment involves the application of full braces once all permanent teeth have erupted, typically between the ages of eleven and thirteen. Females’ permanent teeth normally come in one year earlier than males’ permanent teeth.

9. How does orthodontic treatment work?

By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces or Invisalign® aligners slowly move teeth to a corrected position.

Orthodontic appliances or braces are made of metal, ceramic or plastic. They may be removable or brackets bonded to the teeth. Patients can opt for brackets that are clear or metallic colored and select the color of the ties that hold the wire into the brackets (however ties are no longer necessary).

Today’s wires are less noticeable, and the latest titanium heat reactive wires and Damon® braces move teeth faster, with less discomfort and fewer appointments. Patients are normally seen for adjustments every 10-12 weeks, which helps a lot with busy school and work schedules.

10. Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets, or Invisalign®, on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires, or your Invisalign® aligners are inserted, your teeth begin to gradually move.

You may feel some discomfort for one to four days. With the Damon® Braces System, discomfort is significantly reduced or eliminated. Tylenol or Advil works well to alleviate any discomfort you may have.

Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces once they are initially placed on your teeth. Your orthodontic hygienist will provide you with all of the information necessary to make this transition as easy as comfortable possible.

11. How are braces removed?

We use a special device to break the bond to the plastic adhesive on the back of the bracket. The brackets remain attached to the wire and everything is removed in a few minutes with little discomfort. If any bonding material remains on the tooth, it is smoothed off with a polishing disk.

When braces are removed, your teeth feel very smooth and strange. It’s been a long time since you felt them without hardware attached.

12. Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. However, we recommend that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard during any sporting activity. We supply our patients with special orthodontic mouth guards that come in a variety of styles and colors. Please let us know if you require one when treatment begins.

13. Will braces interfere with playing a musical instrument?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. Brace covers or wax are provided to prevent discomfort while the lips and cheeks callous. Your orthodontic hygienist will instruct you on how to apply wax when the braces are placed. Please let us know if you play a musical instrument.

14. How long are retainers worn?

Upon completion of orthodontic treatment, retainers will be made to maintain your new beautiful smile. Retainers are to be worn every night (10-12 hours per night) for approximately one year.

Even after the teeth become stable, it is important to continue to wear your retainers at least a few nights a week, indefinitely. This is your insurance policy that you will maintain your new smile for a lifetime.

15. Should I see my general dentist while I wear braces?

Absolutely. You should continue to see your general dentist for cleanings and regular dental check-ups at least once every six months as normal.