Ortho FAQ’s

Q: AT WHAT AGE SHOULD A CHILD SEE AN ORTHODONTIST?
A: The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children see an orthodontist by age seven for an initial examination.  Dr. Sherman and Dr. Balhoff recommend that children have an initial examination between their 7th and 8th Birthdays. Although treatment is not often started at this time, conditions may be found that can be corrected at this early age by interceptive measures.  This often will lessen and sometimes eliminate the need for help at an older age. That in turn can be a savings in the total cost of your child’s orthodontic correction.  PLEASE don’t wait until your child has lost all of his or her baby teeth. There are definite advantages to correcting significant problems at an early age. Waiting until all baby teeth are lost can often complicate an otherwise fairly simple problem. Let Dr. Sherman and Dr. Balhoff decide the best time to intercept or correct your child’s orthodontic problem.

Q: WHAT IS AN ORTHODONTIST?
A: Dr. Sherman and Dr. Balhoff are dental specialists who have successfully completed at least two academic years of continuous advanced studies in an orthodontic program of a dental school or institution approved by the American Dental Association. This advanced training includes such diverse studies as physics, embryology, genetics, human growth and development, biophysics and engineering. Only those dentists with this advanced education can announce that they are orthodontists.

Q: WHAT CAUSES CROOKED TEETH?
A: Crowded teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, premature loss of baby teeth, a poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils can all contribute to poor tooth positioning. And then there are the hereditary factors. Extra teeth, large teeth, missing teeth, wide spacing, small jaws – all can be causes of crowded teeth.

Q: WHY SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S BITE?
A: A bad bite can be detrimental to the future of your child’s oral health. Restorations, crowns or bridges are often impossible for a dentist to perform without prior repositioning of the teeth by an orthodontist. Properly aligned and supported teeth are healthy and easier to clean, and therefore more likely to last throughout a patient’s lifetime.

Q: WHAT PART DOES HEREDITY PLAY?
A: Heredity is a complicated combination of factors. Both parents may have perfectly aligned teeth. And the first child’s teeth may erupt unevenly. Then comes the second child and it is as if hereditary factors are working against each other. The child’s teeth appear normal, but their alignment is going to cause problems in the future. So, assume neither the best nor the worst. Have your orthodontist evaluate your child’s bite and proceed from there.
Q: HOW DO DR. SHERMAN AND DR. BALHOFF STRAIGHTEN TEETH?
A: Tooth movement is actually a normal response to light pressure. Pressure is applied by using a variety of orthodontic hardware (appliances).  The most common combination includes 1) a brace or bracket attached to 2) teeth that are connected by an 3) archwire. Periodic changing of these archwires puts pressure on the teeth.  At different stages of treatment, you may wear a variety of appliances including an expander, elastics, a positioner, or even a retainer.

Q: WILL IT HURT?
A: Discomfort has to result when we loosen a tooth for movement. This usually lasts about 48 to 72 hours, and then the teeth are comfortable again. Each succeeding adjustment will mean some minor discomfort although our patients report a lessening of pain as the treatment progresses.

Q: WHAT ABOUT EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES?
A: We heartily encourage all patients to pursue extra-curricular interests. Athletics can be a regular part of this routine. Certain musical instruments can actually be helpful during treatment. Speech may at first be somewhat affected, but only for a day or two. So, we tell our patients that orthodontics is a normal/temporary part of this phase in their lives and that treatment should not preclude any activities they usually pursue within their daily lives.

Q: HOW LONG WILL TREATMENT TAKE?
A: Orthodontic correction can vary from the simple closing of front spaces in a few months, to the realignment of unsightly and disfiguring teeth. In the young child or the adolescent, treatment is as much a critical matter of timing and guidance as anything else. The normal treatment time varies from 12-36 months depending on the complexity of the problem.  Adult orthodontic treatment time also varies depending on the complexity of the problem.  However, normal treatment time typically varies from 6-24 months.

Q: HOW OFTEN WILL I NEED OFFICE VISITS?
A: Appointments can be scheduled from 1-10 week intervals, depending on the stage of treatment. In the initial and end stages of treatment, the appointments are more frequent. Once the appliances (braces) are in place, appointments are scheduled at longer intervals. For children, every effort will be made to schedule appointments before or after school hours, but many times your child will have to come during school hours. School authorities are usually understanding.

Q: HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
A: Do not assume your treatment will cost the same as someone else’s. Because no two problems are the same, treatment plans and accompanying costs will vary among patients. Those factors affecting the simplicity or complexity of your problem will be explained in detail by Dr. Sherman and Dr. Balhoff.  We offer reasonable payment plans, conveniently spread over the estimated treatment period.

Q: WILL MY DENTAL INSURANCE PAY FOR IT?
A: Today many dental policies include orthodontic benefits. For questions concerning eligibility, a pre-determination of available benefits can be requested from your insurance company representative. Some companies require submission of a diagnosis and treatment plan as well as a suggested payment schedule before treatment begins. The percentage of reimbursement varies from plan to plan.

Q: WILL THE IMPROVEMENT BE PERMANENT?
A: The combined experience of orthodontists across the country points to a 95% permanent improvement rate. Teeth, like all parts of the body are constantly changing and adapting. Where growth guidance is accomplished, the results are usually permanent. Jaw relationships affecting facial contours can be expected to remain for life. However, there are certain types of facial patterns that continue to change even past adolescence. (Should this be the case with your child, of course it will be discussed thoroughly; so you are made aware of any detrimental growth indications.) Conscientious retainer wear following treatment will minimize minor movement or relapse.

Q: WHAT ARE SOME COMMON PROBLEMS THAT REQUIRE BRACES?

– Top front teeth protrude.
– Top front teeth cover more than 25% of the bottom front teeth when the back teeth are biting together.
– Top front teeth grow in behind the bottom front teeth.
– A weak chin or a prominent chin.
– A space exists between the top and bottom front teeth with the back teeth biting together.
– Crowded, overlapped, misplaced teeth or extra teeth.
– Some teeth don’t meet at all.
– Baby teeth falling out too early or very late.
– The centers of the top and bottom front teeth don’t line up.
– Often biting the cheek or roof of the mouth.
– Finger sucking or tongue sucking habit continuing after 6 years of age.
– Difficulty chewing or biting with teeth that don’t meet evenly on both sides.
– Teeth wearing unevenly.
– Jaws that shift off center when the teeth bite together.
– Excessive spaces between teeth that persist after the top permanent canine teeth appear.