A new patient recently visited us with a long shopping list of possible orthodontic ‘treatments’ for her daughter’s mouth. She is an ‘Ipad Mom’ who prides herself on her online investigative homework. Some folks, in some areas, get themselves into that situation where a ‘little bit of learning is a dangerous thing’. We never mind any patient or parent doing their homework, because patient understanding and compliance is an important facet of our work. It can be time consuming and not particularly fruitful when we have to dispel some of the myths readers can derive from the internet. The misunderstandings can arise when someone discovers online cases of dental extremes, and believes their mouth is a classic case of ‘whatever’. The cyber youngster case in south-east Asia with over 200 teeth is NOT indicative of what is likely to occur with your son or daughter!
As orthodontists, we have literally hundreds of different appliances available to perform various treatment options on a patient. Some of the names, such as the ‘Crossbow’ mentioned above, or ‘the Regulator’, certainly conjure up images of action movies. A removable or a fixed appliance is easy to understand – some leave your mouth while you eat and brush (such as our Invisalign). The fixed varieties are attached to the teeth by our team and remain in the mouth for adjustment in our office only. The severity of the case determines which class of appliances we will recommend for anycase. Every jaw is unique, even with members of the same family. The non-fixed, or removable, are most often used in adults. Clear removable aligners are the preferred choice for over 90% of adult patients, but not all are best suited for this treatment. We use them for some teens, but most cases call for some sort of fixed wire treatment. Patient compliance is critical, and we find the patients actually paying the fee are usually the most inclined to follow the instructions of when and for how long appliances may be removed. Many adult patients in the public eye prefer clear aligners and most people would never even recognize them. In some cases patients have a ‘gag reflex’ with anything placed in the posterior (rear) area of the mandibular (lower) arch. If a patient is missing several teeth in an area, fixed appliances are recommended in order to stabilize the appliance. As said, we’re all unique. Severe cases may require oral surgery, but this is not commonplace. There are literally hundreds of appliance options. Daily our office has the ‘opportunity’ to try out the latest and greatest. The common denominator is the doctor training, and his/her ability to blend that with the most logical technology that works for that doctor. Bring your questions – and we’ll recommend a plan that will suit you!