Frequently Asked Questions: Teenage Orthodontic Patients (tm) Part 5


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    What Happens During Orthodontic Treatment?

    Contents of this section: What Are The Main Parts Of Treatment, Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment, Full Orthodontic Treatment: The Initial Exam, The Records Appointment, The Consultation, Putting On Your Braces, Tightening Appointments, Done and On To Retainers

  1. What are the main parts of orthodontic treatment?

    There are two parts to orthodontic treatment, interceptive orthodontic treatment and Class I (i.e regular) orthodontic treatment. Do not worry about the big words. Just follow the links and see what each of the parts of orthodontic treatment does.

  2. What is interceptive orthodontic treatment?

    You might remember that Dr Hatt said earlier that cave men did not need orthodontic treatment. Teenage cave men were only 2 or 3 feet tall and their teeth fit perfectly in their mouths; you are a lot more than 2 feet tall, and your teeth are too big for your mouth.

    Well, the objective of interceptive orthodontic treatment is to make your jaw wider and reshape your mouth so there is room for your permanent teeth.

    Your orthodontist will install a gadget called a "palatal expander" to make your mouth bigger. He may also use a facebow to try to start to correct overbites and underbites. If you start interceptive orthodontic treatment when you are 8, it usually only takes 3-6 months, and avoids painful treatment later on.

    Note: interceptive orthodontic treatment can take as long as 14 months if your bones grow slowly, or if you do not follow the orthodontists directions.

  3. Does the palatal expander hurt?

    A little. The palatial expander is stretching your mouth, and you know the old saying, "No Pain, No Gain".

  4. What is next?

    Most kids finish interceptive orthodontic treatment by time they are 9. Then they usually wait until they are 12 and ready for braces.

  5. What steps are involved in full orthodontic treatment?

    The objective of full orthodontic treatment is to continue to stretch your mouth, and move around your teeth so that your teeth are in the right places.

    First there are a series of appointments where the orthodontist examines your mouth and figures out what is needed.

    Next the orthodontist installs your braces.

    You usually keep your braces in for two to two and a half years. During that time, your orthodontist's assistant will "tighten" your braces every three or four weeks.

    The orthodontist may tell you to wear a facebow during that time.

    Then your orthodontist will remove your braces and give you a retainer.

    You will need to wear the retainer 24 hours a day for a year, then a few nights a week until you stop growing (when you are 24).

  6. How long does full orthodontic treatment take?

    Generally, full orthodontic treatment takes about two or two and a half years for a typical case. It will take longer with a complicated case or if your do not follow the orthodontist's instructions.

  7. What can I expect on the first visit to the orthodontist?

    Generally, it takes several visits to the orthodontist for you to start your treatment. On your first visit the orthodontist's assistant will take a medical history. The orthodontist will then examine your mouth to see if you need orthodontic treatment.

    Generally, the orthodontist will look at your mouth to see if everything is ok. Is your mouth big enough to hold all of your teeth? When you close your mouth, are the top teeth lined up with your bottom teeth? Are any of your teeth crooked or not in the right place? Are there any missing teeth? Are there any other problems like a breathing problem, or a problem with the joint in your jaw?


    After the orthodontist looks at you, he will determine you need braces. About 70% of the teenagers in the US need braces.

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