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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

National Orthodontic Health Month

October is National Orthodontic Health Month (NOHM).  In honor of that, we'd like to share some facts with you courtesy of the American Association of Orthdontics (AAO). 

Today, more than 4 million children and 1 million adults in the United States and Canada are receiving treatment from orthodontists who are members of the American Association of Orthodontists to improve long-term dental health and change facial appearances for the better.  And through continued advancements in orthodontic treatment, patients reap the benefits of better dental health, higher self-confidence and healthy, beautiful smiles.

What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is "malocclusion," which means "bad bite." The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to achieve facial balance.

What is an orthodontist?
All orthodontists are dentists, but only about 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists. An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists must first attend college, and then complete a three to five year dental graduate program at a dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association (ADA). They must then successfully complete an additional two- to three-year ADA-accredited residency program of advanced education in orthodontics. Through this training, the orthodontist learns the skills required to manage tooth movement (orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics). Only dentists who have successfully completed this advanced specialty education may call themselves orthodontists.

1. Orthodontists are specialists.
TRUE: Like their specialist counterparts in medicine (cardiologists, neurologists, gastroenterologists, etc.) orthodontists receive more formal education to be specialists. Orthodontists specialize in straightening teeth and aligning jaws. Like dentists, orthodontists graduate from dental school, but then, to be an orthodontist, it takes an additional two to three academic years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program. Orthodontists are dentistry’s specialists in straightening teeth and aligning jaws to create optimal function and form. Orthodontists only practice orthodontics.* They treat hundreds of patients a year, drawing on tried-and-true and new orthodontic appliance technologies to get patients to the best results.
2. You should only visit an orthodontist for challenging and complex orthodontic cases. FALSE: Orthodontists have the education, experience and expertise to treat all levels of orthodontic problems. A seemingly “simple” case can be hiding subtle problems that only an orthodontist can recognize. Rely on an orthodontist to diagnose and successfully treat all problems with tooth and jaw alignment.
3. Orthodontists do not use clear aligners to straighten teeth. FALSE: Orthodontists are not limited to the use of one kind of appliance (the “tools” used to move teeth and align jaws)—they have knowledge of the full range of orthodontic appliances, and what to use to correct each patient’s orthodontic problem. Orthodontists may use clear aligners, braces and other orthodontic appliances to correct tooth and jaw alignment maladies. Orthodontists know what to use and when to use it because they work with these tools every day. Orthodontists build on their knowledge of orthodontics through on-going continuing education in orthodontic technology and practice.
4. Braces aren’t just for kids anymore. TRUE: More than one in five current orthodontic patients is an adult. And braces are just one type of “appliance” (device) that orthodontists use in orthodontic treatment for adults, teens and children.
5. If there was a giant, overhead magnet and someone flipped a switch, people wearing braces would fly out of their chairs and stick to the ceiling. FALSE: It would be a really cool party trick, but it couldn’t happen.
6. Braces and aligners are painful and take two years or more for the desired result. FALSE: After a brief adjustment period, like breaking in a new pair of shoes, braces and aligners are comfortable. And while every case is different, a 2010 survey** found that the average treatment time for patients is 22 months.
7. Getting orthodontic treatment means I’ll have to commit to constant doctor visits and inconvenient appointments.
FALSE: The average appointment commitment is only once every six weeks.**
8. Braces are ugly, call attention to themselves and would be embarrassing in business settings. FALSE: Today’s braces may be nearly invisible thanks to tiny metal or ceramic brackets and thin wires. Some braces can be completely unseen, mounted on the back (lingual) side of teeth. Besides, like watching your diet or going to the gym, orthodontic treatment is a change for the better. With a healthy smile, you can face your career with confidence.
9. Anyone is eligible to join the American Association of Orthodontists. FALSE: Only orthodontists may become members of the American Association of Orthodontists, and 95 percent of all educationally eligible orthodontists in the U.S. are AAO members. To be “educationally eligible” means that the doctor must graduate from dental school, then complete 2-3 years of specialty education at an accredited orthodontic residency program. Only those who successfully complete this extensive education may call themselves “orthodontists.” And only orthodontists may be members of the American Association of Orthodontists.
10. Even if I wanted to get orthodontic treatment, it’s too expensive.
FALSE: Orthodontists have a variety of payment plans and options to make orthodontic treatment affordable. Plus, 60 percent** of all new patients in 2010 had dental insurance that included orthodontic benefits. Many employers offer options like FSAs (flexible spending accounts) to offset healthcare costs not covered by insurance. Funds in FSA accounts are considered pre-tax dollars.

For more information on orthodontics, please do not hesitate to contact us at (619) 591-5950, or visit us at!