Straight Answers About Braces
More than 4 million people in the United States and Canada are in the care of an orthodontist and looking forward to a beautiful, healthy smile that's good for life.
As you prepare to make decisions about orthodontics, it's very important to be armed with the facts. Here are some things you should keep in mind:
Anyone considering orthodontics for themselves or a child can take advantage of the "Smile Bank," the AAO's free computer-imaging program. Just send in a close-up photo with a big, toothy smile and an orthodontist will prepare a computer-generated "after braces" picture. Mail your photo (and return address) to the AAO, c/o "SMILES," and you'll receive a free photo showing how your smile might benefit from orthodontic treatment.(NAPSI)
- Why is orthodontics important? 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.
- When should my child first see an orthodontist? The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child should see an orthodontist 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.
- Is it ever too late for a person to get braces? No. Because healthy teeth can be moved at any age, orthodontists regularly treat patients in their 50s, 60s and older!
- What makes an orthodontist different from a dentist? Orthodontists are the dental specialists who correct dental and facial irregularities. An orthodontist 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.
AAO members are uniquely qualified to correct "bad bites." The American Dental Association requires orthodontists to have at least two years of post-doctoral, advanced specialty training in an accredited program, after graduation from college and then dental school.
- What about costs? This will vary, of course, depending on the nature of the problem. Many patients require only limited treatment. You may be surprised to discover that orthodontics is less expensive than you thought.
Your orthodontist will be happy to discuss fees. He or she may offer payment plans. Also, many dental insurance plans now include orthodontic benefits. Of course, it's important to keep in mind the lifetime value that orthodontics provides.
- Should I ask to talk to present and/or former patients? It is wise for a consumer to investigate the value of any product or service. Most orthodontic patients will give it to you straight-orthodontics is one of the best investments they've ever made. Better self-esteem and better oral health are benefits that can last a lifetime.
- Who can recommend an orthodontist? Ask your family dentist to recommend an orthodontist. You can also find the names of AAO members in your area simply by calling a toll-free number, 1-800-STRAIGHT (1-800-787-2444). Or write the American Association of Orthodontists at 401 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141-7816.
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