Knowing the benefits of using an orthodontist for straightening your teeth has become of vital importance in light of the multitude of dangerous do-it-yourself (DIY), direct mail, at-home, and quick-fix orthodontic methods that have become popular recently. An orthodontist receives highly specialized training in order to safely and effectively move the teeth and align the bite.

Educational training for an orthodontist includes:

  • 4 year undergraduate degree (usually Bachelor of Science)
  • Passing of a Dental Acceptance Test (DAT)
  • 4 years dental school (focusing on oral health, dental and clinical practice, and medical ethics)
  • Minimum 2 years orthodontic specialty program/residency training
  • Passing both written and clinical examination for board certification given by the American Board of Orthodontics (AAO)

During the residency program, the orthodontic student works directly under the supervision of experienced orthodontists to master:

  • How to move teeth
  • Application of corrective treatment
  • Understanding facial and jaw alignment

Through these years of observation and practice, orthodontists are trained in diagnosing, preventing, and correcting structural problems connected to the teeth and jaws.

What an Orthodontist Does

An orthodontist is qualified to correct all manners of misalignment of the teeth and jaws. While improved appearance is often a desired result of getting braces or aligners, orthodontic treatment involves much more. Correcting existing or potential health problems and ensuring proper function of the entire mouth are integral parts of any orthodontic procedure.

Orthodontic treatment can be used to:

  • Straighten misaligned teeth
  • Correct overcrowded or unevenly spaced teeth
  • Align the jaws
  • Correct bite problems

These orthodontic procedures involve a delicate balance in which teeth and jaws move in harmony. Relying on the expertise of a qualified dental professional is critical when embarking on this complex process.

During your initial orthodontic evaluation, Dr. Greenberg will be checking for:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Problems with previous restorative work
  • Unhealthy teeth
  • Signs of oral cancer
  • Swollen glands
  • Evidence of TMJ (temporomandibular disorder)

X-ray will be taken at this time to determine:

  • Sizes and positions of teeth
  • Impacted or unerupted teeth
  • Damaged or shortened tooth roots
  • How much bone is supporting the teeth
  • Relationship between the teeth and jaws
  • Facial form
  • Growth patterns

Once you have chosen to proceed with orthodontic treatment, Dr. Greenberg will create a unique plan for you based on:

  • Thorough dental and medical history
  • Clinical examination
  • X-rays
  • Bite impressions
  • Photographs of teeth and face
  • Personal preference

Dr. Greenberg is available to address any questions about orthodontic methods that promise fast results with no office visits required. If you have used any at-home orthodontics and have concerns about the results or would like an evaluation, please contact our office.

How Teeth Move

Teeth are comprised of two main parts, the crown (the visible portion above the gum line) and the root (the portion within the jawbone). Each tooth is surrounded by gingiva, or gum tissue, which provides a seal, and attached to the aveolar bone (jawbone) by the periodontal ligament. The periodontal ligament (PDL) is made up of fibers which anchor the tooth to the bone and absorb force when chewing.

When teeth are moved, the PDL on one side of the tooth is compressed, while tension is applied to the PDL on the other side. The pressure on the PDL triggers a biochemical process called bone remodeling. During bone remodeling, the bone creates cells that allow the teeth to move through bone successfully.

Osteoclasts break down the bone on the side placed under pressure, while osteoblasts produce new bone on the side receiving negative pressure. Osteoclasts begin to remove bone within about 3 days of positive pressure, and the osteoblast process of rebuilding bone can take 90 days to start. Stabilizing the final result can take about 10 months, which is why your orthodontist has you wear a retainer even after your teeth are straight. This prevents the teeth from moving back into their original positions.

The process of precisely moving teeth through bone remodeling is a complex series of events that should be overseen by a trained, experienced orthodontist who can make skillful adjustments as the teeth move.

How Braces Work

Braces work by applying the light, optimal pressure needed to move the teeth properly through the bone. In more traditional braces, brackets (either stainless steel or ceramic) are strategically adhered to the enamel of each tooth designated to move. A slot on each bracket is specifically designed for the type of archwire needed to move the tooth a certain way. The archwire, usually made of a nickel titanium alloy, is placed through the slot which creates the tension needed to slowly guide the tooth the correct direction.

As bone remodeling occurs and teeth begin to move, your orthodontist will periodically evaluate your progress and make adjustments to ensure the movement continues on the correct path. Later, the original archwires will be replaced by thicker wires to move the teeth further and complete the process. Larger wires cannot be used at the onset because the teeth would be moved too quickly.

In much the same way, Invisalign® clear aligners are created to apply gentle pressure gradually over time. Instead of adjusting the wires, a new aligner is used periodically (about every 2 weeks) to change the pressure on the teeth as they move.

Your orthodontist carefully maps out and monitors the entire Invisalign® process to ensure that each aligner is moving teeth properly. Adjustments are made along the way should the direction of the tooth movement need to be slightly altered.

Knowing the intricacies of how teeth move and when to make adjustments on wires or aligners is essential to a successful orthodontic outcome. Low-cost, fast orthodontic treatments that claim all the benefits of comprehensive orthodontics without time-consuming appointments can put patients at risk of long-lasting dental damage. Orthodontics is a procedure that you want to be right the first time. Undergoing any orthodontic treatment without the guidance of a qualified orthodontist is not only risky, but can be extremely costly to repair and, in some cases, even dangerous.

Our goal at RxSmile is to provide patients with the highest quality orthodontic treatments while offering safe, effective care that results in beautiful smiles that last a lifetime. If you need additional information or have experienced complications with Do-it-yourself braces (DIY braces) or aligners and would like to make an appointment with our orthodontist, Dr. Greg Greenberg, please call 972 335 1300 Monday through Thursday, or submit an online appointment request and we will respond within one business day.