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Why should malocclusions be treated?

orthodontics Battle Creek MIMisaligned jaws, otherwise known as malocclusions, can have detrimental effects on your quality of life and your health. Fortunately, many malocclusions can be treated solely with orthodontics, either traditional braces or the newer Invisalign system.

If your jaws don’t fit together properly, you may have a difficult time chewing food, especially fresh (and crunchy) fruits and vegetables, which can put your nutrition at risk. Additionally, you might find yourself frequently biting the inside of your cheeks or lips, which may introduce the possibility of infection to these soft tissues.

Of course, misaligned jaws aren’t very attractive either. A malocclusion can negatively affect your smile’s appearance as much as crooked teeth do. This is another compelling reason to have a malocclusion corrected.

The severity of your malocclusion will influence the treatment approach recommended by your dentist. Although Invisalign was used primarily for straightforward, simple cases when it was initially introduced, this system is now capable of addressing more complicated issues, including some malocclusions.

However, Invisalign may not be suitable for all cases. In some circumstances, traditional orthodontics consisting of metal or ceramic brackets or wires may be needed in order to bring the jaws into the correct alignment. After examining your smile, your dentist can recommend the treatment method that is most likely to be effective for you.

It is preferable to act early to correct malocclusions. When patients are treated as children and teens before their jaws are fully developed, the rate and patterns of jaw growth can be manipulated to bring the jaws into the proper alignment. It is more difficult – although not impossible – to achieve this goal after jaw development is complete. In adults, it is more likely that a combination of orthodontics and oral surgery will be needed to eliminate malocclusions.

If you are concerned about the way your jaws fit together, explore treatment options that will bring them into the proper alignment to improve your self-confidence and your general well-being. Call the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 to schedule an initial evaluation and learn what treatment outcomes may be possible in your case.

How does the orthodontic process work?

orthodontics Battle Creek MIPatients who want a properly aligned smile may not be familiar with the steps in the process. Here is an overview, so that if you’re considering orthodontic treatment, you can have a better idea of what you can expect.

Before you can get your dental braces, you must first complete an initial consultation. At this first appointment, you’ll get a chance to explore how orthodontic treatment can improve your smile and what kinds of results can be expected in your case. A specialist can identify the need for an intervention in patients as young as 6 or 7 years old, and early orthodontic treatment can reduce the amount of time spent in dental braces at a later age.

Older children, teens or even adults who want to enhance their smiles can benefit from a consultation to begin their treatment process as well.

If you decide you want to move forward with treatment after the consultation, the dentist will conduct a complete exam, taking some combination of x-rays, photographs and dental impressions in order to capture the baseline for treatment and inform the treatment plan. You will learn more about the anticipated costs of your dental braces at this appointment, as well as the projected timeline and your options for appliances, as well as financing plans, if necessary.

The next step is getting your appliances, whether they are conventional brackets and wires or Invisalign trays. If you’ve chosen the former, you will come to the office and have the dental braces bonded to your teeth. You’ll return every few weeks so that your provider can continue to make the necessary adjustments to guide the teeth into the desired positions.

Patients who choose Invisalign will receive the trays, along with instructions for wearing them and the schedule for changing to new trays. These patients will return for office visits less frequently so that their progress can be monitored.

After you are finished with active treatment, you will receive a retainer designed to maintain the proper positions of the teeth. You will begin by wearing this appliance all of the time and then slowly decrease the number of hours it is worn each day.

Do you have additional questions about the orthodontic treatment process? If so, call the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 and speak to one of our knowledgeable, experienced staff members.

Why Retainers are Essential to Orthodontic Treatment

orthodontics Battle Creek MICrooked teeth present more than just an aesthetic issue … areas for plaque to form and build can lead to dental decay and/or gum disease. In addition to correcting problems concerning your dental health, your morale can receive a much needed boost when you have your bite corrected and teeth straightened with orthodontics.

Children, teens, and adults … no matter your age or place in life everyone wants to look their best. A winning smile is important; and if you undergo the time and expense of wearing braces, you should do everything you can to protect that investment. One of those steps is to follow instructions to the letter when it comes to wearing your retainer following orthodontic treatment.

While you are wearing braces, your teeth are slowly being shifted to their correct placement. As teeth are moved, be mindful that their former position was there for your lifetime. So in order for teeth to form a memory of their new placement, they must find a way to be locked in that new place.

Locking teeth into their new occlusion is the work of the retainer. The word retainer has multiple meanings, but in the case or orthodontics, the retainer is a device or structure that holds something in place. So once your bite has been corrected, and teeth have been moved to their ideal location, the retainer is worn to “retain” this placement.

There are different styles of retainers … your orthodontist will recommend the one best suited for you. Along with the retainer, instructions for its use will be issued. Many patients are advised to wear their retainer 24/7 for a period of time; some patients are weaned from their retainer by wearing it at night only.

Patients who want their orthodontic experience to be over might be tempted to forego wearing the retainer as directed. But these patients must understand that wearing the retainer is actually the final step to their orthodontic program; not wearing it as advised prevents teeth from developing a memory of their new location allowing them to drift back to their original location – don’t waste months or years of treatment by skipping this final, important step in orthodontic care.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today.

Signs Your Child May Need Orthodontic Treatment

orthodontics Battle Creek MIParents understand the value of orthodontic treatment for their children, but they may not be aware of the signs that indicate braces or some other orthodontic appliances may be in order. Here are a few issues that warrant an orthodontics evaluation:

  • Premature loss of primary teeth: If a baby tooth falls out early due to injury or advanced decay, the permanent tooth may erupt too soon. This can throw the alignment of the permanent teeth out of whack.
  • Delayed loss of primary teeth: Similarly, if a primary tooth stays in the mouth too long, it can prevent the permanent tooth from erupting in a timely fashion, which can also cause incorrect positioning.
  • Noticeable crowding or gaps: This issue can easily be corrected with braces or possibly interceptive treatment.
  • Signs of malocclusion: If your child’s teeth don’t meet normally or if there are problems with biting or chewing, it can suggest the presence of a malocclusion. This situation can also be improved with early orthodontic treatment.

Even if your child isn’t demonstrating any obvious symptoms of misaligned teeth or jaws, it’s recommended that he or she have the first orthodontic evaluation around age 6. At that time, enough of the permanent teeth have erupted to determine whether there may be any problems that require some sort of intervention. For some issues, early orthodontic treatment can prevent the need for more involved interventions at a later date. Additionally, it is easier to manipulate growth patterns in younger children, if that is a component of treatment.

This initial evaluation also provides a baseline for monitoring any changes in the alignment of your child’s smile. In fact, early orthodontic intervention is another compelling reason to make sure that your child sees a dentist every six months. These routine exams can detect the onset of issues with the proper alignment of the teeth so that those issues can be addressed promptly.

Don’t delay in scheduling an orthodontic evaluation for your child. It can save time, trouble and money in the long run. Schedule an appointment around your child’s 6th or 7th birthday to make sure that their smile stays straight and attractive. To learn more, contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500.

Orthodontics: Choosing the Optimal Time for Treatment

orthodontics Battle Creek MIChoosing a time to start orthodontic treatment, such as braces or Invisalign, should occur after careful consideration of the length of the treatment and amount of commitment involved. For adult patients that are candidates for Invisalign treatment, a minimum of six months is typically required for simple cases, and more complex cases can take nine months or longer. For children, most dentists will wait until the permanent teeth have mostly grown in before starting braces or offering other treatments, except in the case of interceptive orthodontics.

Interceptive orthodontics is an early treatment designed to reduce the need for extensive orthodontic treatment later. The treatment often includes the widening of the upper and/or lower jaw to make room for teeth as they emerge, reducing the risk of crowding. The expansion of the upper jaw may be done to reduce a cross-bite problem, as well. Extractions of baby teeth can be incorporated with the treatment to provide sufficient room for permanent teeth, and space maintainers or similar devices may be worn to ensure the space remains for the adult teeth during the period of tooth transition.

Most interceptive orthodontic treatments are typically done quickly and decisively before permanent teeth emerge, although many dentists with experience in this field will recommend some patients wait to see if there is, in fact, a need for extensive treatment. Teenagers are the most common patients with braces, and some mild cases are suitable for treating with Invisalign. Regardless of the approach, undergoing braces or similar treatment during high school can usually ensure the treatment is complete by graduation so the need for regular visits to the dentist are greatly reduced when the patient heads off to college.

An informative consultation prior to starting treatment will help establish a tentative timeline. For more information on available orthodontic treatment options, contact the office of Dr. John B. Morris today to schedule your visit.