FAQ About Orthodontics

The goal of orthodontics is straight teeth and a stable bite. Dr. Stephen W. McKenna answers commonly asked questions about orthodontics.

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the science of moving teeth through bone. This specialty has expanded to include dentofacial orthopedics, which is the science of changing the shape of facial bones and muscles by influencing facial growth or by orthognathic surgery. By combining the two sciences, orthodontists can create the proper harmony of muscles, bones and teeth in order to establish a stable bite and treat or prevent dental and facial abnormalities.

What are the Benefits of Orthodontics?

The advantages of orthodontics go far beyond cosmetic purposes. The orthodontist's primary concern is creating a stable bite. If the teeth don't come together correctly, they'll cause the opposing teeth to move or wear out faster than they should. This can lead to tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, injury or early loss of teeth. When upper and lower jaws come together properly, they look great and can give the patient a lifetime of healthy smiles. Proper alignment makes teeth easier to clean, reduces wear and increases the overall health of the body.

Other benefits of orthodontics include the possible prevention of digestive difficulties, chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck.

Is Orthodontics Just for Children?

No. In fact, approximately 25% of our patients are adults.

What are Braces like Today?

Braces have come a long way since the 1900s. They now come in different sizes, colors and styles. Traditional metal (stainless steel) braces are still an option and are smaller and more efficient than they used to be. You can even jazz them up by choosing colored rubber bands!

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a comfortable, customized, effective method for straightening teeth. A series of custom-made, clear aligners are changed every few weeks based on a plan created especially for the patient by the orthodontist.

What is Orchestrate?

Orchestrate is an alternative to traditional braces that consists of plastic aligners that are custom-made for your teeth. They are designed to gradually guide teeth into proper alignment. As the teeth shift, new aligners are created (usually every few weeks). Orchestrate aligners are easily removable, easy to keep clean, are comfortable to wear and prevent tooth grinding.

Orchestrate aligners also offer faster service and cost-savings to patients. Orthodontists can create the aligners in-house using Orchestrate's proprietary 3-D software. Your orthodontist takes a scan of your teeth that is then fed into the software application system, which creates an aligner your orthodontist can print on his 3-D printer.

Are Clear Braces the Same as Invisible Braces?

No. Although clear or ceramic braces are an aesthetic option that offers a less visible alternative to traditional (stainless steel) braces, they are bonded onto the front of your teeth. These do still require the use of a metal wire held in place on each bracket by elastic bands. However, since the brackets are tooth-colored or translucent, they are less noticeable.

What Orthodontic Techniques Does McKenna Orthodontics Offer?

McKenna Orthodontics specializes in orthodontics for children and adults; orthodontics in conjunction with orthognathic surgery; Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders; and splints for bruxism (teeth grinding). Treatment is based on what is best for each individual client, and we offer options such as traditional braces, Invisalign, Orchestrate and clear or tooth-colored braces.

How Do I Know if I Need Orthodontics?

Consulting your orthodontist is the best way to determine if you need orthodontic treatment. If you have any of the following, you may wish to talk with your orthodontist about whether treatment is right for you:

  • You have upper teeth that protrude over the lower teeth, are bucked, cover your lower teeth when you bite together or sit behind your lower front teeth.
  • When you bite down, your lower jaw shifts to the right or left.
  • Your teeth are crowded.
  • You have difficulty while chewing/eating.
  • Your teeth have excessive or uneven wear.
  • You have gaps between your teeth.