It seems so simple… Why will it take so long?

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Teen Girl 2Imagine taking your beautiful daughter to see an orthodontist because she doesn’t like the little gap between her front teeth. You’ve check out her teeth yourself and while there are admittedly a few uneven ones, things don’t look that bad. Surprisingly the doctor announces that her treatment will be much longer than you expected and several thousand dollars more. How could such seemingly “simple” treatment take so long?

Having examined more than 10,000 patients over the past 10 years, I know that I’ve surprised more than a few parents with treatment estimates longer than they expected. I can imagine the thoughts that run through the minds of parents that don’t know me very well: Is he just trying to make more money? Is he being too picky? She’s only got a little space for heaven’s sake! Understanding my three primary objectives for your children will help you understand why quality treatment takes as long as it does. My goals are to give your child a smile that is 1) attractive, 2) healthy, and 3) stable.

First, while most parents do want a healthy smile, the main reason they seek care for their children is that they want them to look great. Straight teeth, no spacing or overlapping, and no overbite are standard expectations. There is a misconception however that all doctors with a license will produce the same results. A lot of what I do with braces is artwork and not all orthodontists are artists. Being able to visualize how a patient’s smile should look at the end of treatment and then coordinate all of the variables that go into achieving that outcome is complex. Some orthodontists choose treatment plans simply because they like using a certain device that makes their job easier. Others shy away from removing teeth because it makes treatment harder to sell and it takes a little longer. Achieving a great result does take a little more time than just doing an average job.

Second, a healthy smile is one where the jaws are coordinated, the bite comes together evenly so that there is less enamel wear, the teeth nicely aligned so they can be easily brushed and flossed, the incisors are positioned so that the lips close completely and naturally, and the roots of the teeth are anchored in healthy gums and bone. Treatment that addresses only the appearance of the front teeth may ignore the bite, the face, and the health of supporting tissues. It is possible to create a smile that looks good but is actually unhealthy. An experienced clinician will look past the alignment of the front teeth to address underlying factors that determine if the smile is healthy.

Last but not least, quality orthodontic care leaves your child with a result that will be stable after the braces come off. What a shame it is when braces are removed and the teeth are allowed to move bTeen Girlack to where they were before. While orthodontic retainers are necessary in all patients, producing a stable outcome actually begins with the original diagnosis. Even though expanding the arches with straight wires is the quickest and easiest route to straight front teeth, doing so when there is not enough supporting gum tissue or bone is not only unhealthy, it is unstable. While aligning only the top front teeth may be in vogue right now (i.e. Six Month Smiles), it may not produce a “set” of teeth that work together and support each other. Even trained orthodontists who do not fully correct an existing overbite may be leaving the teeth in an unstable position. Long term stability is probably the most commonly ignored aspect of orthodontic treatment.

So when your orthodontist tells you that your little girl’s “simple” treatment may take 18+ months, you can now keep all three of these objectives in mind. You will undoubtedly be happy with the improved appearance of the teeth in the first six to nine months. At that point however, your mindset should shift to the other two objectives, making the smile healthy and stable. A good orthodontist will keep his eye on all three objectives for you. If you are on board with him throughout treatment, your children will also be more likely to be patient until the job is done right. An extra few months is not a big sacrifice for a smile that she’ll have for a lifetime!

Call us today, 734-261-8860, to set up your complimentary consulation to see what treatment is recommended for you! We offer a wide variety of products from traditional braces to Invisalign to hidden braces that go behind the teeth (Incognito System). We service Livonia, MI and all surrounding areas. Call today!!

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