How Orthodontic Treatments are made

by Dr. Amer Hussain, on Oct 3, 2019 8:18:18 AM

Orthodontics, it seems pretty easy stuff right? You go into an orthodontic clinic and talk to the dude ( or dudette) there, you tell them “I want my teeth to be straight” and badda boom badda bing, they put some braces or Invisalign on you and you’re all peaches right?

Not so much. 

Orthodontic plans are highly personal cases, treating any orthodontic treatment requires a lot of attention. Teeth can be kind of like snowflakes, everyone’s teeth are special and unique to them. Even if two people had the same malocclusion (fancy Latin word for bad bite), their treatments could be very different. 

This is why orthodontic treatment planning so crucial. Before treating a patient, the orthodontist will create a personalized treatment plant that is based off of  a multitude of factors: such as the eruption pattern and position of the teeth, the shape of the face and jaw as well as the patient’s goals.  There is no doubt that planning someone’s orthodontic treatment is complex but this is also where the orthodontist’s previous training comes in. 

While in school and training orthodontists learn about tooth movement, cephalometrics (just another fancy word for measuring the bones in your head and face in regards to facial growth), biomechanical principles, the effects of growth and development on tooth movement and more. This is why it’s important to only trust your smile to a licenced orthodontist, not just anyone. 


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So, what would the first point in an assessment? 

Generally speaking, the first thing you will hear when you go for an orthodontic consultation is “What brought you in today?”. This will give the orthodontist insight into what truly brought you into their office, some people and children are referred from a dentist who may have saw something that caused concern or parents often will bring their children in if they believe something may not be developing right or looks a little funny. The orthodontist will take into account a couple things right off the bat, things like your age, if you have all your adult teeth, and any previous dental work (like crowns, bridges or implants). They also might take some X-rays and photos for your file. 

Is it recommended that you get a referral from a dentist?

No, you don’t necessarily need a referral specifically from a dentist to come and see an orthodontist. People sometimes seek out orthodontist simply because they don’t like the overall aesthetic of their teeth and want to resolve it. It is a good starting foundation to speak with a dentist; dentists specialize in oral hygiene so they can ensure that your mouth is healthy enough for orthodontic work. 

What’s next after the initial assessment?
After meeting with your orthodontist, things usually go two way depending on who the appointment was originally for: yourself or your child. 

If the appointment was for your child, the orthodontic plan will be multifaceted. Since every child loses their teeth at different points in time, your child could fall in either Phase One or Phase Two of orthodontic treatment. 

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Phase One is when your child would have mixed dentition, which means your child has a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth. Depending on your child’s case they can use a variety of orthodontic treatments to help align and correct any malocclusions. Some of the options are limited or simplified braces, expansion appliances, space maintainers and more. 

Phase Two is when your child has all their permanent teeth are in and the goal of phase two is to correct jaw development, address any crowding, correct bite problems and have the teeth in ideal functioning positions (which helps prevent wear, future jaw pain and muscle tension). 

If the appointment was for you, the orthodontic plan can also be multi-staged. Your orthodontic plan would be heavily individualized, depending on what the end goal is can lead to variation in treatment. For instance, if you have bite issues (think of things like overbites, underbites and crossbites) you would have to use elastics to help align the jaw properly. Or let’s say you had previous dental work like crowns or implants, all these things need to be taken into account when it comes to your orthodontic plan. 

What if I only have one tooth or one issue I want to fix, can they just do simple fixes?

Now this is a great question, more often than naught when we see something wrong with our teeth, let’s say one tooth that’s out of line, we simply think”If that one tooth was fixed, my mouth would be fine.”. But that’s simply how it looks to untrained eyes, often we can’t see if that one tooth is effect our whole bite or how our occlusion actually is. It’s not always ideal to change “one thing” if the patient is willing to commit to the whole journey. 

So in short, it’s best to get an idea of the whole picture of what’s going on in your mouth, not jus one detail. 

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At what point do the orthodontists determine what kind of technology should be used for treatment?

Right from the beginning. Some patients come in with an idea of what they want, whether it’s clear aligners or one of the braces options. During your initial consultation the orthodontist will go over all of your options for treatment and help you pick the best option for your lifestyle and budget as well. 

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