Orthodontic Treatment in Seattle
Not everyone is born with a beautiful and straight smile. Some people develop orthodontic problems such as crowding or too much space between the teeth, uneven jaw growth, protruding teeth and bad bites due to genetics or injury to the mouth, early or late tooth loss and/or oral habits. Fortunately most of these problems can be corrected with the help of orthodontic treatment to create attractive and healthy smiles that can last for a lifetime. Though orthodontic treatment usually begins as soon as an abnormal bite appears (between the ages of about 6 to 12), adults can also undergo orthodontic treatment. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists states that one in five orthodontic patients is over the age of 21. Many adults are choosing to receive treatment because they understand the importance of maintaining their health, and they want to feel better about their appearance. Adults everywhere are taking advantage of the opportunity to receive orthodontic care, and now you can too.
Kois Dentistry offers a variety of options that are comfortable, esthetic and customized to meet your orthodontic needs. During your complimentary consultation with our orthodontist, you can discuss the pros, cons and associated costs for options including traditional metal braces, clear ceramic braces, lingual (behind the tooth) braces and even bracket-free, removable Invisalign clear aligners. Orthodontics can not only give you that straight, beautiful smile that you have always wanted but also be part of a strategy for lifelong dental health. If you value the highest level of expertise and detail, top-quality materials and the most cutting-edge technology, Kois Dentistry is where you want to be for your orthodontic needs.
What Orthodontic Treatment Accomplishes
The most obvious benefit to orthodontic treatment is that it creates a more attractive smile. The teeth look straight, even and properly spaced.
Orthodontics can correct the following:
- An overbite (or “buck teeth”) – the upper front teeth stick out over the lower teeth
- An underbite – the lower teeth project too far forward or the upper teeth don’t project enough
- A crossbite – the upper teeth do not come down in front of the lower teeth when biting (as in a proper bite)
- An open bite – there is space between the biting surfaces of the front or side teeth when the back teeth bite together
- A deep bite – the upper teeth overlap or cover the lower teeth excessively
- Improper spacing – gaps or spaces between the teeth
- Crowding – teeth are pushed together and do not have enough space in the mouth to fit normally
- Pre-prosthetic/interdisciplinary – teeth need to be moved in preparation for implants, bridges or other restorative work by your dentist and/or specialists
- Functional concerns – the teeth do not line up well causing abnormal wear, chewing problems, periodontal issues and TMJ symptoms
In addition to improving the appearance of crooked or improperly spaced teeth, orthodontic treatment also improves the health of the mouth and can prevent more serious dental problems in the future. Crooked or crowded teeth can be harder to brush and floss and lead to cavities and tooth decay, unhealthy gums and even tooth loss. Teeth that do not fit together properly because of crowding or crooked teeth or a poorly aligned jaw are at risk of developing long-term functional problems such as uneven wear, broken teeth and difficulty chewing foods. This can strain the chewing muscles, which can lead to headaches, neck, back or shoulder pain or problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Crooked or misaligned teeth can be more likely to fall out and contribute to spacing problems with the remaining teeth. Gaps between the teeth may negatively affect speech or chewing ability.
Your specific type of orthodontic treatment depends on your specific needs and preferences and the severity of your case. You may choose to use traditional wires and brackets or lingual braces or the Invisalign system of clear aligners.
Orthodontic Option #1: Traditional Wires and Brackets
Modern orthodontic systems using wires and brackets are more comfortable and effective than ever. In recent years, there have been significant technological advancements in these types of braces that have decreased their size and thickness, providing for increased comfort and better hygiene. In addition, improvements in archwire technology provide more biologically compatible forces, allowing for shorter treatment times with increased comfort.
Small brackets are cemented to the teeth and connected with a thin wire. The brackets have small doors or gates that open and close to secure the wire to the brackets. Sometimes, elastic rings will be used around the brackets to hold the wire or to close space. The brackets and wires apply gentle, continuous pressure to the teeth to move them into the desired position and alignment. Periodically, the wires are changed in size and material (or “tightened”) as the teeth start to shift.
The brackets used may be metal or tooth-colored (clear). The clear ceramic braces are less noticeable than metal braces but are just as efficient, making them a great option for image-aware adults and teens to straighten their teeth without drawing as much attention.
Orthodontic Option #2: Lingual Braces
Lingual braces are different from traditional braces in that they are attached to the lingual or tongue side of your teeth. Because they are far less noticeable than traditional braces placed on the front of the teeth, they are the perfect solution for adults and teens looking to straighten their teeth without the look of braces. Lingual braces are also more customized than traditional brackets and wires and can be used for almost any patient and bite condition. Since treatment with lingual braces is technically more challenging than treatment with traditional orthodontics, few orthodontists offer this service. By using lingual braces, you can obtain the amazing results of orthodontics without anyone knowing you even have braces on.
Because of their placement, lingual braces may irritate the tongue; luckily, dental wax can be used to cover the braces and alleviate the irritation.
Orthodontic Option #3: Clear Aligner Therapy (Invisalign)
Invisalign is the high-tech, clear alternative to conventional braces that gives you the straight, healthy, confident smile you want without the need for metal brackets or wires. Kois Dentistry is proud to offer this orthodontic revolution. By combining the most modern 3-D computer technology with orthodontics, a series of custom-designed aligners will be made for your teeth. As you replace each Invisalign aligner with the next, you will see your teeth move gradually week after week, until they reach their optimal position, creating that new smile that you have been looking for.
Why choose Invisalign? Not only are the aligners virtually invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment. Plus, brushing and flossing are no problem. They are also more comfortable than traditional braces, with no metal or wires, which also usually means you spend less time in your doctor's office getting adjustments. Invisalign treatment also allows you to view your own virtual treatment plan when you start so you can see how your straight teeth will look when treatment is complete.
Adapting to Life with Orthodontics
It may take a few days to adapt to eating and speaking with braces. For the first three days, it is helpful to stick to a diet of soft foods, like yogurt, soup and mashed potatoes. Dental wax is helpful for reducing discomfort of the brackets rubbing against the inside of the mouth.
In general, hard, sticky or chewy foods like popcorn, nuts, caramel and ice should be avoided, as they can interfere with the wires and brackets.
Oral hygiene is crucial to keeping teeth healthy while wearing orthodontics. Teeth need to be brushed twice a day and flossed once a day. Professional cleanings should be scheduled every six months or more frequently as determined by your dentist.
FAQs about Orthodontics
Do braces hurt?
There may be slight soreness or discomfort when adjusting to braces, or periodically when they are tightened. The best way to manage pain is by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. Rinsing the mouth with saltwater can also help reduce discomfort and swelling. We can offer other suggestions if needed.
How long do I need to wear braces?
This will vary from case to case and the orthodontist’s treatment estimate is exactly that — an estimate. The national average is 24-28 months, but treatment can last anywhere from 9-36 months depending on the severity of the problem and the compliance of the patient. One should not choose an orthodontist based on the number of months they estimate treatment to take. Many orthodontists will underestimate treatment times simply to gain you as a patient. After orthodontic treatment is complete, retainers should be worn at night to keep the teeth in their new alignment.
How often do I need to schedule appointments?
Most patients see us every 4 to 10 weeks to have their braces or Invisalign checked. This depends on their specific treatment needs.
Do braces require anesthesia?
No. Neither the placement nor tightening of braces requires any type of anesthesia.
Can I play sports with braces?
Yes, you can play sports and exercise regularly with your braces. We recommend wearing a mouth guard while playing sports to protect the appliance and your teeth.
Can I wear braces as an adult?
There is no age limit to orthodontics. As long as your teeth, gingiva and surrounding bone are healthy, there is nothing stopping you! While the majority of orthodontic patients are children and teenagers, we see plenty of adults that want to straighten their teeth. You may be surprised to know that 1 in 5 orthodontic patients is an adult. There are approximately 1 million adults in orthodontic treatment today. We can suggest inconspicuous options if you are interested.
How much do braces cost?
It is difficult to provide an exact cost for braces without knowing your specific needs and treatment. We will cover the pricing and financing options for braces during your personal consultation with our team.
Learn More about Orthodontic Treatment at Kois Dentistry
To make an appointment to discuss orthodontics with our team, please call Kois Dentistry at 206-515-4006 or send us an email.