Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is malocclusion which means bad bite. The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips and jaws proper alignment to achieve facial balance and a proper occlusion.

What Is An Orthodontist?

Dr. Stieg and Dr. Wachtel are both orthodontists. An orthodontist is a dental specialist with multiple years of accredited university specialized training in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists must first attend undergraduate college, followed by a four-year graduate dental program at university level dental school accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). They must then successfully complete an additional two to three-year residency program of advanced dental education in orthodontics accredited by the ADA. Only dentists who have successfully completed this advanced specialty education may become an orthodontist.

What Causes Orthodontic Problems?

Most malocclusions are inherited and some are acquired. Inherited problems include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra teeth, congenially missing teeth and a wide range of discrepancies of the jaws, teeth and face. Acquired problems can be caused by trauma, thumb or finger sucking, airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids, dental diseases and premature loss of baby or adult teeth. Many of these problems affect not only the alignment of the teeth but also facial development and appearance as well.

At What Age Should My Child See An Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that your child be evaluated by age seven. An orthodontic screening no later than age seven enables the orthodontist to detect and evaluate problems that exist, advise if treatment will be necessary and determine the best time for treatment. Early detection of any orthodontic problems is important in order to take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later.

What Are The Early Signs Of Orthodontic Problems?

Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following signs may help in prompting you to seek orthodontic advice: crowding or overlapping teeth, gaps between the teeth, front top teeth not lining up with the bottom teeth, top front teeth not meeting with bottom teeth and top front teeth covering more than 50% of the bottom teeth. If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, your child may have a skeletal problem, which may require early orthodontic treatment. These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.

How Do I Know If My Child Needs Orthodontic Treatment?

It is difficult for you to determine if treatment is necessary as there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Some problems that look intimidating and complex will resolve on their own with time. The only way to fully understand you or your child’s needs is to come in for an examination.

Can Adults And Teenagers Have Braces?

Age is not a factor in considering orthodontic treatment for adults and teenagers. Any adult or teen in good general health with healthy gums and good bone support for the teeth is an excellent candidate for orthodontic treatment. About 35% of our orthodontic patients are adults and older teens.

Do I Need A Referral From My Family Dentist To Seek Treatment?

Many patients come to Stieg & Wachtel Orthodontics due to a referral by their general dentist, pediatrician or through friends that have experienced treatment here. Official referral from a doctor is not a requirement to be examined in our office.

Is Orthodontic Treatment Painful?

Orthodontic treatment has improved dramatically. As a rule, braces make your teeth tender and sore for a few days. This annoyance can be relieved with over-the-counter pain relievers. Today’s braces are more comfortable and use technology that reduces the discomfort. We use the latest technology and advanced techniques with light force and the highest quality orthodontic materials in order to reduce discomfort and treatment time.

What is Phase I (Interceptive) And Phase II (Comprehensive) Treatment?

Phase I or Interceptive Treatment usually starts while the child has some of their baby teeth and a their permanent front incisors. This stage in development is usually about the age of seven to nine. The goal of Phase I treatment is to intercept a severe orthodontic problem early in order to reduce or eliminate it. These problems include skeletal discrepancies, crossbites, and severe crowding. Phase I treatment takes advantage of the early growth spurt and turns a difficult orthodontic problem into a more manageable one. This often helps reduce the need for permanent tooth extraction or jaw surgery and delivers better long-term stability. Most Phase I patients require a second phase of treatment in order to achieve an ideal final bite.

Phase II treatment usually occurs a number of years later. Most often, we are waiting for the remaining permanent teeth to erupt, including second molars before Phase II or Full Treatment begins. This most commonly occurs at the age of 12 or 13. The goal of Phase II treatment is to achieve an ideal bite with all of the permanent teeth in typically a shorter time frame.

Does Everyone Need Phase I Treatment?

Not every child needs a Phase I treatment. Only a small percentage of children with certain bites require intervention. Most can wait until their permanent teeth erupt. A complete examination at Stieg & Wachtel Orthodontics will answer these questions for you and it is important that children be evaluated by age seven to nine.

What Is The Duration Of Orthodontic Treatment?

Braces may be on between 6 months to 30 months, or in rare instances, longer. The time of treatment depends on the development of the dentition, the severity of the problem, the patient’s cooperation and the degree of tooth movement required.

What Is The Difference Between Extraction And Non-Extraction Treatment?

Our office’s treatment philosophy is very conservative and we make every effort to avoid extraction of permanent teeth as a way to address crowding of the teeth. If necessary, extraction therapy is a technique where one or more teeth are removed to make room for the other teeth in the mouth. This is in contrast to non-extraction therapy where one expands a patient’s jaw and/or adjusts the size and shape of some teeth to make them fit within the jaw. For severe crowding and severe jaw discrepancy the extraction approach may be required.

What Is Invisalign?

Invisalign takes an innovative approach to straightening teeth, using a custom-made series of aligners created for you and only you. These aligner trays are made of smooth, comfortable and virtually invisible plastic that you simply wear over your teeth. Wearing the aligners will gradually and gently shift your teeth into place, based on the exact movements that Dr. Stieg and Dr. Wachtel plans out for you. There are no metal brackets to attach and no wires to tighten.

Is Orthodontic Care Expensive?

The value in seeing an orthodontist for treatment is that the orthodontist is an expert, highly experienced and understands form, function and a wonderful smile. Stieg & Wachtel Orthodontics strives to make your orthodontic treatment a great value, providing only the quality treatment you need at a fair price.