Every person has their own reasons for pursuing orthodontics, but the goals are generally the same - creating a healthy, happy smile that looks good, feels good, and functions beautifully. Orthodontic problems such as underbites, overbites, and crossbites, can cause growth and development concerns including speech issues, early wear on the teeth, jaw pain, and even decay and gum disease - not to mention confidence and self-esteem issues as well.
When your treatment is complete, you will have the strong, functional smile you've always dreamed of and the confidence to show it off! We also want you to feel comfortable and confident throughout your entire orthodontic experience, and our practice is dedicated to making sure that you receive the quality care you deserve.
How Orthodontic Treatment Works
Orthodontic appliances are made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. They can vary from removable aligners to brackets and wires or appliances bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle pressure in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to the proper position. Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can now choose clear or metal brackets and, in some cases, the color of your appliance. Wires are far less noticeable, and the latest materials are designed to move teeth faster with more comfort. Today, any age is a great age to wear braces!
Duration Of Treatment
Treatment time can last anywhere between 1 and 3 years and is different for each patient, even within the same family. Treatment length varies depending on several factors including age, method of treatment, stage of tooth development, desired results, and the individual factors of your case - but a big factor in a successful treatment is you! The more involved and diligent you are, the more efficient your treatment will be. For children, receiving interceptive or early treatment can also help provide a quicker treatment time. Before beginning your orthodontic care, Dr. Creech will discuss all of your options and provide an estimate for how long your full treatment may take.
We schedule all appointments for the full amount of time that our team will need in order to provide your child with the best and most thorough dental care. For this reason, we are unable to see patients who arrive over 10 minutes past their scheduled appointment time, and the treatment will need to be rescheduled to another day. Please contact our office at any time before your appointment with questions about the office location, parking, or directions if needed.
Since appointments are reserved exclusively for each patient, we ask that you notify our office at least one business day in advance of your scheduled appointment time if you are unable to attend. Patients with Monday appointments are asked to notify us by Friday at 5pm. Another patient who needs our care could be scheduled if we have sufficient time to notify them. We realize that illnesses, car troubles, and emergencies can happen at any time, but we ask for your assistance in this regard in order to provide care for as many patients in need as possible. Families with excessive missed or same-day canceled appointments will be charged a $50 cancellation fee.
Orthodontic screenings are recommended for children by age 7. At that age, the teeth and jaws are developed enough that Dr. Creech can examine your child for any issues. Typical findings are lack of space for erupting teeth and skeletal discrepancies that require early orthopedic intervention. Though treatment may not be necessary at age 7, it is important to set your child up for an optimal bite and healthy eruption patterns by getting checked out early. Of course, we are happy to see patients of any age, at any time - from the little ones to mom, dad, or even grandparents!
Serious orthodontic problems can be more easily corrected early on while the skeleton is still growing and flexible, and the mouth can be prepared for the eventual eruption of permanent teeth to help them come in the correct position. This can be accomplished with a variety of treatments, including palate expanders, headgear, and Invisalign. Complete braces are placed in a second phase of treatment after the permanent teeth have erupted - usually around ages 12-14 - for final alignment and detailing to achieve the perfect bite and smile.
Invisalign is a fantastic way to straighten teeth without wires and brackets, using clear, custom-fit aligners that are designed just for you! Dr. Creech is a certified Invisalign provider, and we offer Invisalign as an option to even our youngest orthodontic patients. Invisalign First is used for mixed dentition to develop and coordinate the arches as well as make space for erupting teeth. Invisalign Teen is used for our teenage patients to correct all types of malocclusions, sometimes with the aid of adjunct appliances and elastics. Invisalign patients are typically seen at the office every 12 weeks to monitor tooth movement and check on brushing!
CLEAR, 3D PRINTED CUSTOM LIGHTFORCE BRACES
Think you'll have trouble wearing Invisalign 22 hours a day? Our office is excited to offer clear, 3D printed ceramic braces through Lightforce, customized especially to the shape of your teeth. Custom-fit braces conform more precisely to each tooth, which reduces breakage and can even reduce the length of treatment. Office visits are typically every 10 weeks with Lightforce appliances.
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 with the assistance of wires and elastics. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics for a more unique and colorful smile, and you can change the colors at each appointment to keep it fun and seasonal! Patients with metal braces are typically seen at the office every 5-6 weeks.
Gone are the days of goopy, PlayDough-like dental impressions! With our state-of-the-art digital iTero Element scanner, our orthodontic team can take a scan of your mouth while keeping you comfortable, and show you a 3D rendering of your bite development throughout treatment.
With the help of our brand-new Formlabs 3D printer, your retainers can be made in-house the same day as your appointment, while you wait!
Orthodontic Frequently Asked Questions
Do braces hurt?
Orthodontics have come a long way in the last few decades! Today’s braces are smaller and more comfortable than those of the past, and our office makes use of the latest technological advancements to reduce discomfort. Generally, braces or a fresh set of aligners will cause some tenderness or soreness for a few days as the pressure needed to move teeth can be a little uncomfortable, but it is not painful. Your mouth will adjust to the new appliances, and any discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter pain medication. Eating soft foods for the first couple of days can help as well!
Will orthodontics interfere with extracurricular activities like sports, musical instruments, or singing?
You may need to make some minor adjustments as your mouth settles into orthodontic treatment, but braces, aligners, or other expanders should not stop you from enjoying any of your favorite activities. If you play a contact sport like football or hockey, a protective mouthguard is recommended to protect your teeth while in treatment - nobody wants an elbow to the mouth right after seeing the orthodontist!
Do I still need to see my regular dentist while I’m in treatment?
Yes! Keeping a regularly scheduled cleaning and checkup with your primary dentist every 6 months is very important while you’re in treatment, as it can be more difficult to brush and floss thoroughly around braces. Some patients see even more benefit from seeing the dentist every 3-4 months while in treatment, to further reduce the risk of tooth decay or staining.
How do I take care of my teeth while in treatment?
In addition to having regular dental checkups, stellar at-home oral hygiene is a must! Brushing 2-3 times a day, flossing daily, and using a fluoridated mouthwash will help keep your teeth strong, healthy, and clean. Your long-term orthodontic results are dependent on having healthy teeth during treatment. Patients with Invisalign should be sure to brush and floss after each meal to keep everything beautifully clean under your aligners, but you can generally eat whatever you like. Patients with metal or clear braces should follow the guidelines below and avoid sticky, hard, or chewy foods that can peel off your brackets or stick in your teeth.
Avoid sticky foods such as:
- candy bars
- fruit roll ups
- caramel apples
- gummy bears
Avoid hard or tough foods such as:
- pizza crust
- hard candy
- corn chips
- ice cubes
Cut these foods into small pieces and chew with your back teeth:
- corn on the cob
- chicken wings
- spare ribs
Orthodontic Emergencies or Problems
Please feel free to contact our office if you are experiencing any discomfort or if you have any questions about your orthodontic appliance. Below are a few simple steps that might help if you are unable to contact us or if you need a quick fix.
Occasionally, a glued bracket may come loose. You can remove the loose bracket and save it in an envelope to bring to the office. If a bracket becomes loose, call the office as soon as possible in order for us to allow time to re-glue the bracket.
If a wire is poking your gums or cheek there are several things you can try before scheduling an office appointment. First, try a ball of wax on the irritating wire. You may also try using a nail clipper or cuticle cutter to cut the extra piece of wire that is sticking out. Sometimes, a poking wire can be safely turned down so that it no longer causes discomfort. You can use a pencil eraser, or some other smooth object to tuck the offending wire out of the way.
Wire Out of Back Brace
Please be careful to avoid hard or sticky foods that may bend the wire or cause it to come out of its proper brace. If this happens, you may use needle nose pliers or tweezers to put the wire back into the hole in the back brace. If you are unable to do this, you may clip the wire to ease the discomfort. Please call the office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to replace the wire.
Poking Elastic (Rubber Band) Hook
Some brackets have small hooks on them for elastic wear. These hooks can occasionally become irritating to the lips or cheeks. If this happens, you may either use a pencil eraser to carefully push the hook in, or you can place a ball of wax on the hook to make the area feel smooth.
You may be experiencing some discomfort after beginning treatment or at the change of wires or adjusting of appliances. This is normal and should diminish within 24-72 hours. A few suggestions to help with the discomfort:
- Rinse with warm water.
- Eat a soft-food diet.
- Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) as directed on the bottle.
- If pain persists more than a few days, call our office.