I still remember when it was time for me to visit the orthodontist to talk about braces. It wasn’t a great experience…
First, as a tween/teen, I was extremely concerned about my appearance all the time. The idea of having a mouth full of braces did not appeal to me whatsoever! My teeth weren’t terribly crooked, but my mouth was very narrow and my teeth were crowded.
As it turned out, I ended up needing a palette expander, which was painful and gave me a huge gap in my front teeth. By the time that ordeal was over, I couldn’t wait to get braces on just so I could close the gap! Thank goodness I had a kind and caring orthodontist, who was patient and empathetic to the woes of a teenage girl…(or a sort of stodgy and cranky older man with little tolerance for children…my memory is hazy.)
Fortunately for our children, there have been plenty of advances in orthodontic technology since then! We can and should also expect to receive better patient care from qualified, trained practitioners who truly enjoy what they do.
To get the best information to bring back to our community of moms, I went directly to friend and sponsor Dr. Jason Gladwell of Gladwell Orthodontics in Wake Forest. In addition to being a local husband and father, Dr. Gladwell also happens to be an Invisalign Super Elite provider, making him among the top 1% of providers in the country. He is a recognized speaker for Invisalign and has treated more Invisalign and Invisalign Teen patients than any other orthodontic provider in the state of North Carolina. Dr. Gladwell uses state of the art technologies, including 3D impression-less digital scans.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to partner with him and have him answer some questions!
At what age do children typically start braces? Do you have a specific recommendation?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child have their first orthodontic exam at age 7. This is very different than the way most parents currently think. Years ago, it very common for dentists to refer children when they had all of their permanent teeth, or age 12. When this was done, it put in place a very reactive and often times aggressive treatment plan, instead of being more preventative and conservative, as we do today. Seeing children earlier allows us to diagnose many important things such as major crowding, missing teeth, extra teeth, crossbites, and other orthodontic problems that if treated earlier, can offer more conservative solutions and prevent the need for permanent teeth extractions, surgeries, and other complicated procedures. This is a very different for some parents to grasp because it is different than what they are used to or went through themselves. There are some families that “don’t want braces twice”. A completely reasonable and understandable view. However, it is not that simple. Any orthodontist should be able to easily explain and show definitively why a particular child would benefit from early intervention versus waiting until later to complete treatment. Not all children actually need the early intervention, only a small percentage, but when they do, it is very important to consider if our goal is the best and most conservative treatment possible.
After a consultation, parents should be able to understand the benefits and risks of either waiting or starting treatment early. We only want to do so on the children that will benefit from it. For the majority of children, this early exam is just a baseline for the start of our information gathering, used to help ascertain the appropriate timing for that individual to get started with treatment. Every individual is different, we have different growth rates, get teeth at different ages, and mature differently. It is important to be followed by an orthodontist to make sure we treat everyone when it is right for them, not just based off of a random average age as it once was.
Is there a risk of starting kids too early?
No. Orthodontists should only recommend treatment when it is appropriate for children. There is no danger to starting children too early. Some problems such as an underbite, have a very small and early window of opportunity to be treated effectively and conservatively. Sometimes our optimal window is between the ages of 6-8 years old, much younger than people would imagine. Those are obviously a low percentage of the population, but it is very important for them to be seen early and treated appropriately.
What is the difference between regular braces and Invisalign?
There are many differences between traditional braces and Invisalign (clear aligner) treatment. The only real similarity is that they are both used to guide tooth movement. The way they do so however, is vastly different. Most people are familiar with braces. They are affixed to teeth on either the front or back side with adhesive and we use a series of wires, different sizes, shapes, and alloy materials to effect tooth movement. Adjustments are done on average every 6-8 weeks and the amount of soreness is variable.
With Invisalign, we use a series of clear aligners, each one incrementally different than the one before to move the teeth into the desired positions. We use a digital scanner to make digital models of the teeth, which are then sent to Invisalign. After that, I go into the software and tell Invisalign exactly where and how to move the teeth. Each aligner in our office is worn for 22 hours a day, and changed every week. As we go through the sequence of aligners, the teeth will move into the desired positions. Invisalign is much different than braces, and every provider is not able to get the same results. It is very technique sensitive, and the learning curve is very steep. This is why some orthodontists do not provide Invisalign as a treatment option. This is a very important point in determining who should provide Invisalign as an option, and who shouldn’t. I personally only offer Invisalign when I know I will get the same results in the same amount of time as with braces.
How long do children typically have to wear braces?
On average 18-22 months.
Do you want to learn even more? Join us for a Mom’s Night Out on March 24th from 5:30pm -7:30pm at Gladwell Orthodontics!
There is nothing better than an event that allows you to have fun, while doing a little multi-tasking! Join us on Thursday, March 24th from 5:30-7:30pm at Gladwell Orthodontics in Wake Forest for a Mom’s Night Out!
We are thrilled to have Dr. Gladwell on hand to answer questions about orthodontics in an informal, fun setting. We’ll provide the wine, apps, giveaways and swag…you provide the questions.
In addition to a little wine, snacks and swag bags, Dr. Gladwell will be giving away $500 custom whitening!