Frequently Asked Questions

Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of malocclusions and facial irregularities.
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who completes an advanced post-doctoral course, accredited by the American Dental Association, of at least two academic years in the specialty of orthodontics, to learn the skills necessary to control tooth movement and direct facial development.
  • A more appealing smile.
  • Better self-esteem, which is especially critical during the developmental years.
  • Teeth function better.
  • Better able to clean the teeth, which impacts the long-term health of the gums and teeth.
  • Reduces the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth.
  • Improves force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth.
  • Positively impacts permanent teeth by guiding them into better positions.
  • Helps make other dental treatment effective.
  • The upper front teeth extend too much over the lower teeth (overjet).
  • When biting together, the upper front teeth cover most of the lower teeth (deep bite).
  • The upper front teeth are inside or behind the lower front teeth (under bite).
  • When biting together, the upper and lower front teeth do not meet (open bite).
  • Crowding: this occurs when teeth do not have enough room to erupt from the gum.
  • Spacing problems.
  • When biting together, the lower jaw shifts to one side or the other.
  • The center of the lower and upper teeth does not align correctly.
  • You find it difficult to chew.
  • You experience uneven or excessive wear on the teeth.
  • Finger or thumb-sucking habits continue after age six or seven.
While treatment can begin at any age, many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if they are identified at an early age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the first orthodontic evaluation should occur at the age 7 or earlier if a problem is identified by the family dentist, parents, or the child’s doctor. Early treatment may prevent the need for surgery and more serious problems from occurring.
Early treatment (Phase I) begins before the eruption of all the permanent teeth; generally between the ages of 7 and 10. It includes the use of expanders, a facemask, or partial braces. During this phase of treatment, Dr. Long can correct crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits, and create space for developing teeth.

Phase II treatment is often needed as a follow up to Phase I. It is initiated when all of the permanent teeth erupt. This generally occurs between the ages of 11 and 14. Some orthodontic problems are treated more effectively by breaking treatment up into two phases, instead of attempting to correct everything at one time.

Comprehensive treatment is orthodontic treatment accomplished in one step. It can begin before all of the permanent teeth have erupted, and is intended to correct all of the orthodontic problems during one treatment interval.

Of course! 25% of patients today are adults. Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. We all want to enjoy the benefits of a beautiful, healthy smile.
Braces apply a constant, gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. Braces consist of brackets, which are placed on the teeth, and the archwire. Brackets can be fabricated from metal, ceramic, or plastic. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it attempts to revert to its original shape. As this happens, the archwire applies pressure to shift the teeth into new, better positions.
While treatment time varies depending on the case, the average length of time it takes to complete treatment is from one to three years. Patient compliance, the severity of the correction and the rate of growth affects treatment time. Attending scheduled appointments and practicing proper oral hygiene are important for keeping treatment on schedule.
You should not feel any discomfort when the bands and brackets are placed. After the braces are placed and connected with the archwires, you may experience soreness for a couple of days. It may take a week or two for your lips and cheeks to get adjusted to the braces.
Of course. However, we recommend that you wear a mouth guard. They are comfortable, inexpensive, and come is several types of colors and patterns.
Although, you will experience an initial period of adjustment, braces should not hinder you from playing a musical instrument.
Yes. Continue to visit your general dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups.
A space maintainer is a fixed wire appliance generally placed between teeth to hold the space for the permanent teeth. It is necessary when a patient loses a baby molar or when Dr. Long wishes to preserve available space for orthodontic treatment.
A child’s development and orthodontic treatment can actually correlate with each other. A common condition that can be treated during a child’s growth is overjet or protrusion of the upper teeth ahead of the lower teeth. This condition generally occurs because the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw. During the child’s development, while the upper and lower jaws are still growing, orthodontic appliances can be utilized to help the lower jaw catch up with the upper jaw. Another condition that can be treated is an underbite, which is protrusion of the lower teeth ahead of the upper teeth. An appliance can be used to influence growth of the upper jaw to catch up with the lower jaw. Also, other conditions, such as a severe jaw length discrepancy, can be treated effectively while a child is still maturing. If left untreated until a period of slow or no jaw growth, corrective surgery may be required to correct the discrepancy. Children who might have problems with jaw length or width should be examined no later than age 10 for girls and age 12 for boys. Children who have an underbite should be examined as early as detected by the parent or family dentist. This type of bite is best corrected by age 10 to be most effective!
Jaw-growth discrepancy is treated by the process of dentofacial orthopedics. The following are common orthopedic appliances utilized to correct jaw discrepancies:

  • Palatal Expansion Appliance: If a child’s upper jaw is too narrow for the upper teeth to fit properly with the lower, a palatal expansion appliance is used to expand the width of the upper jaw. The device can be attached to the upper back teeth.
  • Herbst: The Herbst appliance can be utilized to help correct severe protrusion of the upper teeth relative to the lower. It holds the lower jaw forward, thus affecting jaw growth and tooth positions. It is generally attached to the upper and lower molar teeth.
  • Facemask: A facemask or reverse-pull headgear is used in a growing child to correct an underbite (when the lower teeth protrude ahead of the upper teeth). It is typically worn at home and while sleeping to influence growth of the upper jaw.

Dr. Long will determine which appliance is suitable for treating each patient’s condition. Generally, one or several appliances can be utilized to successfully treat the patient’s condition. Patient compliance is essential to ensure optimal results are achieved.

The treatment time provided during the initial consultation is only an estimate. Because each patient’s growth rate is different, response to treatment varies. Dr. Long has established specific goals for each patient and will usually continue treatment until the goals are reached. However, patient compliance is the best indicator that treatment will remain on schedule. Patients who wear rubber bands and other appliances as instructed, and handle appliances with care to ensure they are not damaged, will most often finish treatment on time and achieve excellent results. The majority of patients complete treatment on time. Should there be any delay, we will notify you well in advance.
After we remove your braces, your teeth can move out of the new position if they are not stabilized. Retainers are designed to stabilize your new teeth positions until the gums and bones adapt to the changes. Wearing retainers exactly as Dr. Long instructs you is the best assurance that your treatment results will last for a lifetime.
Studies indicate that as people mature, their teeth may shift. This variable pattern of shifting occurs progressively, and is known as maturational change. Although shifting slows down after the early 20’s, most people continue to experience it to a certain degree throughout their life. Even children who experience no orthodontic problems during development may require orthodontic treatment as adults. Crowding of the lower front teeth is the most probable maturational change. Wearing retainers as instructed will stabilize the new teeth positions. Beyond the phase of full-time wear, wearing retainers at night can also prevent maturational movement.
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