Ask the Orthodontist

Have questions regarding treatment by an orthodontist? See some FAQs below! You can also contact us at one of our St. Louis area orthodontist offices to learn more.

What is an orthodontist and what do they do?

St. Louis Orthodontist

An orthodontist is a doctor that specializes in orthodontics. Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Your orthodontist will have completed advanced post dental school education to gain the skills required for orthodontic specialization.

What are some of the potential benefits of seeing an orthodontist?

An orthodontist can help you achieve:

  • A happy, healthy smile
  • Better long-term health for teeth and gums
  • Reduce the risk of damaging protruding teeth
  • Improvement of wear patterns on teeth and even out force distribution
  • Potential mitigation of speech problems or swallowing irregularities
  • Better optimization for other dental treatment and increased ability to clean teeth
  • Possible self-confidence boost

What do I need to look out for as possible signs that braces are needed?

  • Protruding or bucked teeth
  • Upper front teeth that cover a significant amount of the lower teeth, referred to as a deep bite
  • Upper front teeth that are positioned behind bottom teeth, referred to as an underbite
  • Upper and lower front teeth that do not touch when biting together, referred to as an open bite
  • Teeth are crowded or overlapping
  • The centers of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger or thumb-sucking habits that continue after your child is about 6 years old
  • Gaps exist between teeth
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts sideways when biting together
  • Difficulty when chewing

When is the best age to seek treatment by an orthodontist?

Orthodontist in St. Louis, O'Fallon, Chesterfield, & O'Fallon

Orthodontists can treat any age with reasonable success. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child sees an orthodontist by age 7, because earlier treatment, before jaw growth has slowed, may mean the patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications later on. However, though many orthodontic problems are easier to correct when discovered at a younger age, adults are still perfectly eligible for care by an orthodontist, and a significant number of orthodontic patients are over the age of 21.

What is Phase I and Phase II Treatment?

Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a course of treatment your orthodontist will use to correct orthodontic conditions discovered at an early age. It can result in more stability for the patient’s results and less overall intrusion.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Through various appliances, including the most common application of braces, your orthodontist will move and position your teeth to achieve a healthy bite and beautiful smile.

How long does orthodontic treatment usually take?

Treatment length varies per person and depends on each patient’s orthodontic conditions. On average, treatments tend to range from 24-30 months. Your orthodontist will give you a clearer picture of length of treatment required. It is important that the patient cooperates with treatment as well, as keeping treatment time on schedule significantly depends on patients maintaining regular appointments and good oral hygiene.

Are braces painful?

When the orthodontist places bands and brackets on your teeth, it will not feel painful. However, your teeth will be sore for a few days as they move. Your lips and cheeks may need a couple weeks to get used to braces as well.

Can I still play sports as usual?

Absolutely! However, we recommend that patients wear a mouthguard to protect their smile when participating in any sporting activity. We have mouthguards in each office and will happily provide them to you at no additional charge upon request.

Can I still play a musical instrument?

Yes! You can continue to play any musical instruments, though you may experience an initial adjustment period. Brace covers can also be provided to mitigate discomfort.

Do I still need to see my dentist with braces?

Yes! Your orthodontist and dentist are a team looking after the health of your mouth. You should make sure to see your dentist every 6 months for checkups even when undergoing orthodontic treatment.

How Can I Learn More?

If you are in the greater St. Louis area and would like to learn more, contact us today to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist. We have three offices located in Chesterfield, Fenton, and O’Fallon for your convenience.