Clinical leaders at Western Dental, the largest provider of orthodontics in the country, encourage patients and parents considering braces to look beyond cosmetic value to understand how orthodontics can prevent serious dental issues.
Besides straighter teeth, an improved bite, and higher self-esteem, braces also dramatically improve long-term oral health in a majority of cases by correcting early issues that could become larger problems later in life.
Misaligned or crowded teeth can make brushing and flossing more difficult, increasing the likelihood of periodontitis, said Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer of Western Dental. It can lead to tooth decay and possibly gum disease or total tooth loss. In more extreme cases, disfiguring of the face and mouth occurs, affecting the development of the jaw and position of the teeth.
These issues can also eventually lead to breathing or swallowing problems, which can cause snoring and sleep apnea as an adult.
Non-traditional approaches for straightening teeth have sprung up in recent years “ including mail-order services and clear molded trays. But clinicians warn that they are not effective or safe for everyone.
Cosmetic treatments often do not address long-term dental health needs to ensure the patients final bite is correct. Moving teeth too quickly and without expert supervision may cause significant bone loss.
These cosmetic treatments are typically provided without the ongoing care and supervision of a board-certified orthodontist, who typically has two to three years of additional training dedicated to orthodontic care.
Aligners like Invisalign, clear trays that gradually move teeth into position, have become more popular and may be an option for some patients, Dr. Luther said. But its important to be evaluated and treated by a certified orthodontist to ensure safe and effective treatment.
Invisalign is offered at all Western Dental offices, as well as traditional treatments.
Though orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, timely treatment ensures maximum dental health. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children get an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7.
Many parents take their children to the orthodontist to correct problems arising from issues of early childhood. For example, finger or thumb sucking habits can cause protrusion of the upper incisor teeth and constriction of the upper jaw. Teeth that erupt out of position can also be guided to proper alignment with braces.
The typical reasons for braces are to correct:
- Cross bite: One or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth.
- Deep overbites: The lower front teeth bite into the upper tissue of the upper teeth.
- Under bites or lower jaw protrusion: When the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.
- Spacing issues: Problems associated with missing or extra teeth.
Braces can address most, but not all, orthodontic conditions. Exceptions include orthognathic surgical and cleft palate cases.
While orthodontic treatment is most common for young teens, all ages can benefit from braces, from pre-ortho treatment at approximately age 9, to full braces for teens and young adults. And its not unheard of for older adults whose teeth may have shifted over the years to undergo a realignment treatment.
Its important to meet with a board-certified or approved orthodontist for an evaluation. Many orthodontists provide consultations free of charge. At that point, they can present options, including clear, gold or traditional braces, and discuss financing packages. With all the recent advancements in orthodontics, wearing braces has never been easier or more effective.
ABOUT WESTERN DENTAL
Western Dental (with its affiliates, including Brident Dental & Orthodontics, Access Dental, Blue Hills Dental, South Texas Dental and Vital Smiles) is one of the nations largest dental providers and is the leader in accessible, affordable oral healthcare, serving approximately 2.9 million patient visits annually in 314 affiliated offices throughout California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Alabama. In addition to general dentistry, Western Dental offers orthodontics, oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and endodontics in its offices, creating a convenient full service Dental Home.
In California, Western Dental is the leading provider of services to both adults and children in the Denti-Cal program “ part of the Medi-Cal public insurance program that provides health care benefits for more than 13 million low-income individuals and families. Western Dental dentists provided care to more than a half-million Denti-Cal beneficiaries in 2017 and is committed to continuing to partner with the State to improve the program. In Texas, Western Dental is the leading provider of Medicaid services and recently entered into a first-of-its-kind agreement to participate in a value-based care and payment model under the states Medicaid program.
All of Western Dentals services are backed by a unique quality assurance system that electronically monitors all patient visits, treatments, dental staff and clinical performance to enable high-quality care. To learn more about Western Dental or inquire about an office in your community, visit www.westerndental.com or call 1-800-6-DENTAL.