What if My Dentist Hasn’t Sent My Child to the Orthodontist? | American Association of Orthodontists

You don’t have to wait for your dentist to refer your child to an orthodontist.

Parents are often the first to recognize that something is not quite right about their child’s teeth or their jaws. A parent may notice that the front teeth don’t come together when the back teeth are closed, or that the upper teeth are sitting inside of the lower teeth. They may assume that their dentist is aware of the anomaly, and that the dentist will make a referral to an orthodontist when the time is right. A referral might not happen if the dentist isn’t evaluating the bite.

AAO orthodontists don’t require a referral from a dentist to make an appointment with them.

Dentists and orthodontists may have different perspectives.

Dentists are looking at the overall health of the teeth and mouth. He/she could be looking at how well the patient brushes and flosses, or if there are cavities. While dentists look at the upper and lower teeth, they may not study how the upper and lower teeth make contact.

Orthodontists are looking at the bite, meaning the way teeth come together. This is orthodontists’ specialty. Orthodontists take the upper and lower jaws into account. Even if teeth appear to be straight, mismatched jaws can be part of a bad bite.

A healthy bite is the goal of orthodontic treatment.

A healthy bite denotes good function – biting, chewing and speaking. It also means teeth and jaws are in proportion to the rest of the face.

The AAO recommends children get their first check-up with an AAO orthodontist no later than age 7.

Kids have a mix of baby and permanent teeth around age 7. AAO orthodontists are uniquely trained to evaluate children’s growth as well as the exchange of baby teeth for permanent teeth. Orthodontists are expertly qualified to determine whether a problem exists, or if one is developing.

AAO orthodontists often offer initial exams at no (or low) cost, and at no obligation.

Visit Find an Orthodontist for AAO orthodontists near you.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a highly skilled specialist. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.

This content was originally published here.

My Orthodontist Thinks I Need Invisalign

I don’t try to make bad choices. Really, I don’t. In fact, I don’t think most people set out to do make them either. I think we all end up in a place we hoped not to be and in retrospect say, well, that was probably a bad idea.

Such was my life this past week when I found myself sitting in an orthodontist’s office being handed an estimate for approximately $8,000 (for Invisalign, I don’t want more braces, of which $3,500 would be covered by my insurance), that would essentially correct (or finish) the job I assumed was completed when I paid $4,000 to get my teefus fixed back in 2012. As sad as it is that if I have to pay all over again, how we got to this point is so much dumber than you can possibly imagine.

It all started in 2007 when I told my then-dentist I wanted braces. In order to do so, I was going to have to get my wisdom teeth removed, so I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed at the same time. Can we talk about that for a minute? Yes, let’s. If you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed, you know they can do general (put you out) or local (numb your mouth) anesthesia. Because all of my wisdom teeth were erupted, they opted for local anesthesia. This is where I learned about how my body responds to numbing agents and pain killers. Basically, it doesn’t. My mouth was numb for a solid 10 minutes before I started to feel the orthodontist literally breaking my teeth in half with some pliers.

Nigga. I cried so hard. It hurt so much, but I made it through thinking that I’d get some pain killers and be high off my gourd for the next week. First, they prescribed me Vicodin. It didn’t work. Then Percocet. Which also didn’t work. Literally, my body didn’t respond to pain killers AT ALL. I pretty much had to wait out the pain in the fetal position on my couch at home for a week and some change. After that experience, I put braces out of my mind, because short of checkups, I didn’t want anything unnecessary done to my teeth.

But then (and we’re about to get to the shenanigans now), while riding around in my car in 2011, I heard a commercial for braces and I said to myself, “P, you should get braces.” There was some number to call, so I called it. And it led me to a dentist’s office in Maryland. Well, I live in Washington, D.C., so that made sense. I scheduled an appointment and showed up for my consultation. And no lie when I tell you I was so dumbfounded at this office: the dentist was a black man but his entire office looked like a Pitbull video shoot. I was in an office full of some of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. And they all worked there. As far as medical office spaces go, it might as well have been heaven.

I even remember calling a few of the homies to be like, “If you need a dentist, THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED TO BE!” I got my consultation and was told the braces would run me $4,000, and I’d walk away with pristine pearly whites. And all of the work would be handled in-house. And I should just come to them for regular dental services. Cool. SIGN ME UP.

That’s where it started going downhill. For one, while I thought the office was unreal, it was easily the most inappropriate office I’d ever been in. The dental assistants were a little too friendly and familiar. I’m not saying it was a happy endings spot or anything, I’m just saying the folks who worked there were super comfortable in ways that I’m not sure are…appropriate. Well, I got my braces and paid the cost to be the boss. Once that was done, and because my insurance changed, that office was no longer an option. Which made me sad, but I also figured that one complaint might take that office off the map anyway, so perhaps it was just time to move on.

I had permanent retainers on the back of my teeth and recently, the retainers on the back of my top row snapped. Because I could feel my teeth almost immediately start to shift, I found an orthodontist and scheduled an appointment the same way I found any new doctors: I checked the list of folks who would accept my insurance and looked for the black folks.

I went in for an appointment, and in the nicest possible way (and without professionally shitting on her fellow unnamed dentist), the orthodontist was like, “Yeah, your teeth ain’t supposed to do what they’re doing, ever, but since I wasn’t there in the first place, I’m not sure if this is accidental or intentional.” You can imagine how hard I clutched my pearls since I JUST got my braces off in 2012. I asked if she was saying the other dentist fucked up my teeth but made it look like the job was done and she would neither confirm nor deny this. I told her that’s what I get for staying at an office because everybody looks like J.Lo.

In order to address and correct the issue, the estimate came back a cool $8,000 strong. I’d feel dumb not getting them fixed since that was a decision I made in the first place and my teeth would just start crip walking again. Mildly, but a crip walk is a crip walk. But I can’t help but thinking I got got by a dentist’s office that didn’t feel right and stuck me for $4,000 out of pocket. And my teeth aren’t terrible, but the new ortho noticed some things that she had various curiosities about.

And it all takes me back to the fact that I seriously picked an office for braces based on a radio ad.

The moral of the story: Don’t pick dentist offices based on radio ads.

This content was originally published here.

7 Facts About Orthodontics | American Association of Orthodontists

Whether you call the process “braces,” “orthodontics,” or simply straightening your teeth, these 7 facts about orthodontics – the very first recognized specialty within the dental profession – may surprise you.

1. The word “orthodontics” is of Greek origin.

“Ortho” means straight or correct. “Dont” (not to be confused with “don’t”) means tooth. Put it all together and “orthodontics” means straight teeth.

2. People have had crooked teeth for eons.

Crooked teeth have been around since the time of Neanderthal man. Archeologists have found Egyptian mummies with crude metal bands wrapped around teeth. Hippocrates wrote about “irregularities” of the teeth around 400 BCE* – he meant misaligned teeth and jaws.

About 2,100 years later, a French dentist named Pierre Fauchard wrote about an orthodontic appliance in his 1728 landmark book on dentistry, The Surgeon Dentist: A Treatise on the Teeth. He described the bandeau, a piece of horseshoe-shaped precious metal which was literally tied to teeth to align them.*

3. Orthodontics became the first dental specialty in 1900.

Edward H. Angle founded the specialty. He was the first orthodontist: the first member of the dental profession to limit his practice to orthodontics only – moving teeth and aligning jaws. Angle established what is now the American Association of Orthodontists, which admits only orthodontists as members.

4. Gold was the metal of choice for braces circa 1900.

Gold is malleable, so it was easy to shape it into an orthodontic appliance. Because gold is malleable, it stretches easily. Consequently, patients had to see their orthodontist frequently for adjustments that kept treatment on track.

5. Teeth move in response to pressure over time.

Some pressure is beneficial, however, some is harmful. Actions like thumb-sucking or swallowing in an abnormal way generate damaging pressure. Teeth can be pushed out of place; bone can be distorted.

Orthodontists use appliances like braces or aligners to apply a constant, gentle pressure on teeth to guide them into their ideal positions.

6. Teeth can move because bone breaks down and rebuilds.

Cells called “osteoclasts” break down bone. “Osteoblast” cells rebuild bone. The process is called “bone remodeling.” A balanced diet helps support bone remodeling. Feed your bones!

7. Orthodontic treatment is a professional service.

It’s not a commodity or a product. The type of “appliance” used to move teeth is nothing more than a tool in the hands of the expert. Each tool has its uses, but not every tool is right for every job. A saw and a paring knife both cut, but you wouldn’t use a saw to slice an apple. (We hope not, anyway!)

A Partnership for Success

Orthodontic treatment is a partnership between the patient and the orthodontist. While the orthodontist provides the expertise, treatment plan and appliances to straighten teeth and align jaws, it’s the patient who’s the key to success.

The patient commits to following the orthodontist’s instructions on brushing and flossing, watching what they eat and drink, and wearing rubber bands (if prescribed). Most importantly, the patient commits to keeping scheduled appointments with the orthodontist. Teeth and jaws can move in the right directions and on schedule when the patient takes an active part in their treatment.

AAO orthodontists are ready to partner with you to align your teeth and jaws for a healthy and beautiful smile.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a highly skilled specialist. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligning teeth and jaws – and possess the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.

This content was originally published here.