Interview I interviewed one of my mentors, Todd britt
1. What importance does orthodontics at an early age serve, if any?
Early orthodontic screening serves the purpose of allowing the orthodontist to treat a number of conditions that are treated more effectively at a young age. One example, of these conditions are crossbites, which are usually caused by abnormal growth of one or both jaws. By treating these jaw growth imbalances at an early age, we can achieve results that are not possible later in a patient’s growth and development. In many cases we can help a patient avoid jaw surgery that would have been necessary if early treatment was not completed
2. Is it more difficult treating an adult rather than a child?
Orthodontic treatment is possible at any age, assuming that the teeth, gums, and underlying bone are all healthy. Adults sometimes present a greater challenge due to having had more dental restorations (crowns, bridges, extracted teeth) than children. Adult metabolism is also slower than a child’s metabolism which can result in slower tooth movement on occasion. Also, adults have more medical conditions than children which can impact tooth movement and periodontal health.
3. What is the ideal age for patients?
The ideal time for an initial visit for children is 7-8 years old or sooner if their dentist sees a condition that needs attention sooner. As I discussed above, as long as the teeth and supporting structures are healthy, it is never too late. If there is a skeletal growth problem, we can combine orthodontics with corrective orthognathic surgery (jaw surgery).
4. Does orthodontic treatment improve health? If so, in what way?
There is definitely an improvement in health seen with straight teeth that fit together properly. Crowded, crooked teeth are much more difficult to clean which can result in periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease and can also lead to early tooth loss which may impact nutrition. An improved smile can also result in higher self-image and self-esteem which can lead to improved overall health
5. Is treatment always needed or are some cases based off a want for a satisfying smile?
Orthodontic treatment is always elective. There has never been someone who died because they didn’t have braces. I always tell my patients this in a joking manner. There are varying degrees of need for orthodontic treatment. Straight teeth that fit together properly result in a nice smile.
6. Do you see more patients seeking treatment for self fulfilling wants now, instead of health concerns than in previous years?
I think has been fairly constant over my career (since 2000). I think there is a trend that more adults are seeking treatment now. Whether their parents couldn’t afford treatment when they were kids or they just aren’t satisfied with their smiles.
7. How do you decide a treatment plan for each patient?
Each patient’s treatment plan is based on their unique condition. We perform a thorough intraoral examination, take diagnostic photos, take diagnostic x-rays, and make study models of each patient in order to do a complete orthodontic work-up in order to arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan. Our work-up consists of compiling a skeletal analysis to find any underlying skeletal abnormalities of the jawbones which may impact treatment and a space analysis to reveal crowding or spacing. Looking at all this information together allows us to arrive at a specific treatment plan for each patient
8. How long is the ideal length of treatment for patients?
Average treatment length is about 2 years. Each patient is different so everyone has their own ideal length of treatment
9. After deband, how often do patients come back seeking treatment again due to lack of retainer wear?
Orthodontic retention is lifelong. Just like any other part of our bodies, things in the mouth change over time. Due to the ever changing oral environment, if a patient does not wear their retainer teeth can move. The movement is usually minor and can be easily corrected if caught early. If left unattended, it may be necessary to go through comprehensive treatment again. This is not the case in the vast majority of people, but it does happen. The number of patients that require re-treatment is fairly small, but it does happen.
10. Does this happen more in children or adults?
Children. The reason for this is that most adults pay for their own orthodontic treatment so they place a higher value on the final result and do not want to have to pay for treatment again. Adults are usually very good about wearing retainers.