Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry that focuses on diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists can correct misaligned, crowded or protrusive teeth as well as misaligned jaws. Orthodontic treatment can improve dental health as well as create a beautiful smile, functional bite and aligned jaws. An attractive smile can help improve your self confidence and esteem for a lifetime!
Orthodontists are dentists who have specialized in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists complete a four year college degree, followed by a four year graduate program in dentistry. What is unique about orthodontists, is that after dental school, they complete and additional two to three years of post-doctoral training focusing solely on the specialty of orthodontics. With a full-time curriculum focused on learning the biology of tooth movement, facial growth and development and esthetics, orthodontists are the most highly qualified dentists to straighten teeth and correct jaw abnormalities.
Dr. Labbe and his associates are some of the most well respected Doctors in their field. If you would like to see what our patients have to say about Stewart and Labbe Orthodontics, please click HERE.
For Children, Teens and Adults
Orthodontics for Children
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have an orthodontic evaluationby age 7. While most orthodontic treatment begins between the ages of 9 and 16, by age 7 many jaw growth or tooth eruption problems can be identified. Many orthodontic problems of this nature are more easily and appropriately treated if caught an an earlier age.
While teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem only an orthodontist may detect. If a problem is identified, immediate treatment may not be indicated. Often, mild problems are monitored on a six month or annual basis until more growth occurs. However, in some cases, early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing, making treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. Typically, early treatment involves the use of orthodontic appliances to guide jaw and tooth development, creating a better environment for adult teeth asthey emerge. In fact, in some cases it is not possible to achieve the same result once the face and jaws are more mature and orthodontics along with orthognathic surgery may be the only way to correct the problem.
Orthodontics for Teens
Because adolescents are still growing, this age is often the optimal time to correct orthodontic problems and achieve excellent results the most efficiently. Many orthodontic problems are inherited. Examples of these genetic problems are crowding, excess space between teeth, protruding upper teeth, extra or missing teeth, and jaw growth problems.
Other orthodontic problems are acquired over time. They can be caused by thumb-sucking or finger-sucking as a child, mouth breathing, dental disease, abnormal swallowing, poor dental hygiene, the early or late loss of baby (primary) teeth, trauma to the teeth, poor nutrition, or medical conditions.
Treatment is important because crooked or crowded teeth can be more difficult to clean, which may contribute to cavities and gum disease. An improper bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue, and possible jaw joint problems. Without treatment, problems may become worse. Orthodontic treatment to correct a problem may prove less costly than the additional dental care required to treat these same problems in later years.
The emotional side of an unattractive smile can affect children in the formative years. When children are not confident about the way they look, self-esteem can suffer. Teenagers with orthodontic problems left untreated may go through life feeling self-conscious, hiding their teeth and their smile.
Orthodontics For Adults
It is never too late to have the smile you’ve always wanted! Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. At Stewart and Labbe Orthodontics, 1 in 4 patients is an adult seeking to improve their smile. Orthodontic forces move the teeth in the same way for both adults and children. However, because adults are not growing, the orthodontist may create different treatment planning modalities for adults.
With advances in technology, orthodontic treatment is faster, more comfortable, and braces are less noticeable than in the past. Depending on the patient, small metal braces, tooth-colored braces or Invisalign can be used. Whether you are in your twenties or sixties, the health and appearance of your teeth are important aspects of your life. Orthodontic treatment is one of the best investments you can make for yourself.
Meet Erin and hear her story of why she underwent orthodontic treatment as an adult!
Video courtesy of American Association of Orthodontics.
Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss.
Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints. These can lead to chronic headaches and face or neck pain.
The cost of orthodontic treatment can be significantly less than the additional care required to treat dental problems that can arise as a result of orthodontic problems. Orthodontic treatment is not only a solution, it can be a prevention.
For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. We want to assist you in achieving that great smile and see that you feel more self-confident with it! Let us help you brighten up your life.
How Do Braces Work?
Braces can be made of metal or tooth-colored ceramic. Braces place a continuous, light and controlled force on the teeth to place them in the correct position. The technology in orthodontics has improved drastically over the years. Brackets are now smaller and less noticeable and wires work faster with less discomfort for patients than ever before! Your comfort during treatment is of utmost importance to us.
How Does Invisalign Work?
Invisalign is an esthetic treatment modality to correct crooked teeth or close spaces. Invisalign patients wear a series of clear aligners that gradually straighten teeth and close spaces. Trays must be worn approximately 22 hours a day for this treatment to be effective. Invisalign is a great esthetic treatment option for many patients.
Duration of Treatment
Treatment time typically ranges from twelve to thirty months depending on the growth of the patient's jaws and the severity of the problem. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take as few as six months. Because patients grow at different rates they will respond differently to orthodontic treatment, causing the length of treatment to differ from patient to patient. The patient's diligent use of any prescribed rubber bands is an important factor in achieving the most efficient treatment. The orthodontist and the patient work as a team to complete treatment as efficiently as possible
What is two-phase treatment
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Life with braces
Adjusting to Braces
For the first few days after your braces or wires are placed, the teeth are usually tender and sore. The discomfort can be relieved with ibuprofen or similar over-the-counter medication. The lips, tongue, and cheeks may also be sore for the first one to two weeks as they adjust to the surface of the braces. Placing orthodontic wax over the braces as directed will help relieve the discomfort. Rinsing with warm salt water will also speed up the adjustment process. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and rinse for thirty seconds twice per day. The day the braces are placed you will receive a “goodie bag” filled with things that will make your adjustment to braces as easy as possible.
Brushing and Flossing
It's more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Food tends to accumulate around braces, especially near the gum line. If the teeth are not cleaned as directed, stains, cavities, or gum problems may develop. After the braces are placed, instructions will be given in brushing and flossing. Even while under the care of an orthodontist, it is essential to continue to see a regular dentist at least every six months during treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.
Eating with Braces
After braces are placed or wires are changed, it is normal for the teeth to be sore for a few days and feel slightly loose. During these first few days, it is best to eat soft foods. After the discomfort subsides, patients can return to a normal diet with a few limitations.
Foods to Avoid:
- Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice, tough meats, etc.
- Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, hard pretzels, etc.
- Sticky foods: gum, gummy bears, caramels, Skittles, etc.
- Hard foods: nuts, candy, etc.
- Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots, pizza crust (instead, cut them into smaller pieces and chew with your back teeth).
- Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils, ice or fingernails) can also damage the braces. Damaged braces will lengthen treatment time.
Loosening of Teeth
During orthodontic treatment, it is normal for teeth periodically to become loose as they are repositioned. In fact, teeth must loosen or become mobile prior to being moved. The teeth will lose this mobility after tooth movement has slowed or after braces are removed.
Poking Wire or Loose Bracket
Occasionally, a wire or bracket will become loose. If a bracket is loose or comes off, call the office to schedule an appointment for repair. If a wire protrudes or a loose bracket is irritating, gently push the wire or brace away from the cheek or tongue and place wax or a piece of sugarless gum over the wire or loose bracket to relieve the irritation. Call the office to schedule an appointment to check and repair the appliances.
We have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it's recommended that you wear a mouth guard in order to protect your teeth and your appliance. A mouth guard designed to fit around braces is advised for playing sports involving contact. In case of an accident involving the face or teeth, check the mouth and the appliances. If appliances are damaged, call the office for an appointment.
Types of Braces
Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before.Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and arch wires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.
Tooth Colored Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces, or tooth-colored braces, are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns. While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and are more brittle than their metal counterparts. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.
Invisalign uses a series of transparent, removable, and comfortable aligners to straighten your teeth. And, no one can tell you are wearing Invisalign because it's transparent! Not only are the aligners invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment, plus brushing and flossing are much easier. For more information on Invisalign, please click HERE.
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What is surgical orthodontics?
Just as orthodontics repositions teeth, surgical orthodontics, also known as orthognathic surgery, corrects jaw alignment to improve a patient’s ability to chew, speak, and breathe and for improved facial appearances. In other words, surgical orthodontics aligns the upper and lower jaws. Moving the jaws also moves the teeth, so braces are always placed in conjunction with jaw surgery. This helps make sure teeth are in their proper positions after surgery.
Who needs surgical orthodontics?
Your orthodontist will consider surgical orthodontic treatment for non-growing adult patients with improper bites due to poor jaw alignment and those with facial aesthetic concerns that are skeletal in nature. All growth must be completed before jaw surgery can be performed. However the pre-surgical tooth movements can begin one to two years prior to these ages. Jaw growth is usually completed by age 16 for girls and 18 for boys.
How does Orthognathic Surgical Treatment work?
During your orthodontic treatment, which usually lasts 18-24 months, you wear braces and will visit the orthodontist for scheduled adjustments to your braces. Your teeth will be moved into a position that anticpates the future surgical movement of the jaws. After your orthognathic surgery, jaws are placed into proper alignment and several more months in braces will allow the teeth to fit into their proper positions.
Orthognathic Surgery is performed in the hospital with an oral surgeon, and can take several hours, depending on the amount and type of surgery needed. In lower jaw surgery, the jawbone behind the teeth is separated and the tooth-bearing portion is moved forward or backward, as needed. In upper jaw surgery, the jaw can be repositioned forward or backward, the jaw can be raised or lowered or the jaw can be expanded. Certain movements may require the jaws to be separated, with bone added/removed to achieve the proper alignment and stability. Other facial bones that contribute to alignment may also be repositioned or augmented.
When you have completed surgery, most patients are able to return to school or work within a few weeks. After the necessary healing time (about 4–8 weeks), your orthodontist "fine-tunes" your bite. In most cases, braces are removed within 6–12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to maintain your beautiful new smile.
Stewart and Labbe provides helpful instructions for your new Orthodontic appliance. Please click on the links below to view/print .PDF versions.
Lower Lingual Arch
Phase I Retainer
Rapid Palatal Expander
Reverse Pull Headgear
Tongue Thrust Appliance