Frequently Asked Questions

The majority of people interested in orthodontics are seeking a cosmetics change for their smile. Although self esteem and esthetics are important there are many other reasons to consider a better bite. Here are some frequently asked questions about orthodontics:

What is orthodontics?

Why is orthodontics important?

Who is an orthodontic specialist?

When should my child first see an orthodontic specialist?

Is it ever too late for a person to get braces?

What about costs?

Who can recommend an orthodontic specialist?

What is a “malocclusion”?

How long will treatment take?

Q. What is orthodontics?

A. Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is “malocclusion,” which means “bad bite.” The practice of orthodontics requires the professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances (braces) to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and achieve facial balance.

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Q . Why is orthodontics important?

A.  Orthodontics can boost a person’s self-image as the teeth, jaws and lips become properly aligned, but an attractive smile is just one of the benefits. Alleviating or preventing physical health problems is just as important.

Without treatment, orthodontic problems may lead to tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction and chewing and digestive difficulties. A “bad bite” can contribute to speech impairments, tooth loss, chipped teeth and other dental injuries including jaw joint dysfunction.

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Q. What is an Orthodontic Specialist?

A.  An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of dental and dentofacial abnormalities . Orthodontic specialists must attend university for at least 3 years and in most cases attain a bachelors degree prior to a 4 year graduate program at a dental school in a university accredited by the Canadian Dental Association. This is followed by an additional residency program of at least two-three years of advanced education in orthodontics, again accredited by the CDA. In most cases this totals a minimum of 10 years of University.  Only dentists with this advanced specialty education can present themselves as orthodontic specialists.

Orthodontic specialists are the dental specialists who correct dental and facial irregularities, day in and day out. An orthodontic specialist is expert at moving teeth, helping jaws develop properly and working with the patient to help make sure the teeth stay in their new positions.

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Q. When should my child first see an orthodontic specialist?

A.  Orthodontists recommend that every child should see an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7.  In some cases, this could be as young as 2 or 3.  Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected early rather than waiting until jaw growth has slowed.  Early treatment may mean a patient will avoid surgery or other more serious corrections later in life.

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Q. Is it ever too late for a person to get braces?

A.  No. Because healthy teeth can be moved at any age, an orthodontic specialist can improve the smile of practically anyone – in fact, orthodontic specialists regularly treat patients in their 50s, 60s and older as long as supporting bone structure is sound.

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Q. What about costs?

A.  All treatments have their unique needs. Because not all treatments are alike the cost of each treatment may vary. The only way for an orthodontist to determine a fee for treatment an initial consultation is required. During this initial consultation the nature of the problems and their treatment will be discussed. In most cases a cost for treatment can be determined at the time of the initial consultation. Cost, of course, depends on the nature of the problem, length of treatment, complexity and nature of appliances used Some orthodontic problems require only limited treatment.

Your orthodontic specialist will be happy to discuss fees.  He or she may offer payment plans to help meet individual financial needs.

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Q. Who can recommend an orthodontic specialist?

A.  Although your general dentist may recommend and orthodontist for you to see you may choose to see any orthodontist you wish.  A direct referral to a specific orthodontist is not required from your dentist or doctor.

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Q. What is a “malocclusion”?

A. Literally, the word “malocclusion” means “bad bite.” Most malocclusions are inherited. These include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra or missing teeth, cleft palate and a variety of irregularities of the jaws and face. Some malocclusions are acquired. They can be caused by thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, dental disease, premature loss of primary or permanent teeth, accidents or some medical problems. Left untreated, these orthodontic problems can become worse. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This may contribute to conditions that may cause tooth decay, eventual gum disease and tooth loss. A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and excess stress of the supporting bone and gum tissue.

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How long will treatment take?

A.  Treatment length varies from a few months to multiple years depending on the extent of the problem and the degree of difficulty.

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