Patients generally consider any unexpected event associated with braces to be an orthodontic emergency, especially if the event or occurrence causes discomfort. If any unexpected event occurs, patients are urged to call our office and make an appointment to be seen as soon as possible. However, many orthodontic emergencies are actually somewhat minor and can be attended to by patients while waiting to be seen. These actions by the patient can help to eliminate discomfort, but the orthodontist should still be seen later for a more permanent solution.

Orthodontic Emergencies

Protruding Arch Wire

A protruding arch wire can poke the cheeks and cause pain and irritation. An orthodontist should be contacted immediately if an arch wire is protruding, but if the patient cannot be seen, there are steps that can be taken to relieve discomfort and prevent further irritation. The arch wire should be pushed back with a pencil eraser until it is flush with the tooth to stop it from touching the cheeks. If the arch wire cannot be pushed back, relief wax should be applied to the wire to reduce irritation.

Loose Ligatures

The small wires that connect the arch wires to the brackets may come loose and cause irritation. If this occurs, the ligature should be put back in place or removed using sterile tweezers. Loose ligatures often cause a domino effect, so an orthodontist should be notified immediately to properly replace the ligatures as soon as possible.

Loose or Broken Brackets

Brackets may come loose or be broken during play or while eating foods that should be avoided while wearing braces. If a bracket is not centered on the tooth, it should be slid back into place using tweezers. If the bracket has rotated on the wire and the orthodontist cannot be seen immediately, it is possible to flip the bracket back to the proper side in between two teeth, and then carefully slide the bracket into place until help can be sought.

Mouth Sores

Mouth sores are very common when braces are new. An orthodontist should be notified of the sores, but actions can be taken to alleviate discomfort. Ora-Gel or another topical numbing agent can be applied to the areas of the mouth where the sores occur. Dental wax can be applied to the pieces of the braces that are causing irritation to prevent further damage. Most sores will go away as the body adjusts to the braces, but minor adjustments by the orthodontist may help to rectify some issues.

Orthodontics Career

Orthodontists help patients correct improper bite patterns caused by jaw misalignments and tooth irregularities. Becoming an orthodontist takes work, but can be fulfilling and rewarding. Patients’ lives are forever enhanced when they are proud to show off a healthy and beautiful smile.

What Does an Orthodontist Do?

An orthodontist examines, diagnoses, and treats problems involving malocclusions. Orthodontists are skilled at using different devices and methods in order to move the teeth into a more desirable position. If needed, orthodontists may also use devices to guide facial development for young patients, in order to avoid future malocclusions. While some malocclusions may be corrected strictly for aesthetic purposes, many corrections help patients to avoid dental problems or make it easier for patients to talk, eat, and breathe.

What Does it Take to Become an Orthodontist?

To become an orthodontist, students must first complete a course in general dentistry. After a DDS, DBS, DMD, or equivalent has been obtained from an accredited school for dentistry, students must complete an additional two to five years of schooling in the science of orthodontics, accompanied by a two to three year residency in an ADA approved program.

Personal Traits

Besides formal training, orthodontists must possess certain skills and characteristics to be successful in the field. Orthodontists must truly love working with people and helping people in order for the field to be fulfilling. Orthodontists should be quick thinking and have an eye for details in order to be successful. If an orthodontist wishes to go into private practice, the orthodontist should also possess management and leadership skills.

What Options are Available for Certified Orthodontists?

Many certified orthodontists open up private practices on their own. However, some may choose to gain employment at existing offices, or may partner with other orthodontists to start an office. When offices are privately owned or are owned jointly, orthodontists can adapt the practice to suit their lifestyle. Since many patients are still in high school, remaining open on weekends may allow orthodontists to operate on more flexible schedules.

Orthodontist Salary Expectations

Orthodontist salaries fluctuate according to where the office is located and what skills are applicable, as with any profession. However, the mean orthodontist salary in the United States is about $140,850 annually. The middle 50 percent of orthodontists make between roughly $100,000 and $175,000 per year. In addition to this base salary, orthodontists may receive benefits, pension, and bonuses. When orthodontists are Board Certified, salary may be increased.

About Orthodontics A person’s smile is an important part of the way that they connect to the world. A healthy and beautiful smile can convey confidence, trust, and enjoyment. A smile also reveals the state of a person’s teeth and dental health. Unfortunately, when an individual’s teeth or bite is misaligned, it can affect the way that they are perceived and the way that they feel about themselves. The goal of orthodontics is to help people achieve healthy and beautiful smiles, so that smiling is never a source of concern again.

Types of Orthodontic Problems

There are many different types of problems that orthodontists can help to correct, including:
  • Crowding of teeth
  • Improper spacing of teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Extra teeth
  • Issues with jaw growth

Causes of Orthodontic Problems

The main cause of orthodontic problems is heredity. Misalignments may also be caused by habits such as finger sucking or thumb sucking. Accidents may cause many different types of complications with the alignment of the jaws and teeth. Dental disease may cause the gums to weaken, which can cause the teeth to shift.

Selecting an Orthodontist

Orthodontists receive two to three more years of training than regular dentists to be able to correctly diagnose, prevent, and treat dental and facial irregularities. Only after receiving this specialized training may individuals be referred to as orthodontists. It is important to do research and select an orthodontist that is experienced and meets expectations before agreeing to receive treatment.

What is the Ideal Age for Orthodontic Treatment?

Orthodontic treatment can benefit patients of any age. Children should receive the first orthodontic treatment as young as age seven, as certain complication can be corrected beginning at that age. Children and teenagers commonly undergo orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth and correct other issues. Adults can also benefit from orthodontic treatment.

What Is the Patient’s Role in Treatment?

Patients must take an active role in order for treatment to be successful. The orthodontist will evaluate the patient, determine the best course of action, and implement measures to correct alignment issues. The patient must follow the instructions of the orthodontist carefully and attend all appointments for subsequent check-ups. Patients must also maintain outstanding dental health so that teeth and gums remain strong and orthodontic treatment is effective. Orthodontists will regularly track the progress of treatment and make adjustments as needed to help patients achieve the healthiest and most beautiful smile possible.