All About Orthodontics
Orthodontist Dr. Allison Tomlin helps answer some of the most common questions about braces and Invisalign from people around Las Vegas.
Frequently Asked Orthodontic Questions
Orthodontia is sort of like dentistry, but it’s far more specialized. Also called dentofacial orthopedics by some doctors, orthodontics focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of abnormalities with your teeth and jaw.
These abnormalities are called malocclusions, and they can be as simple as teeth that aren’t straight or as serious as bone structure issues that are causing problems with your bite.
Orthodontists like Dr. Allison Tomlin complete dental school just like your family dentist, and then they receive two to three more years of specialized training and experience.
While some dentists may offer basic services like braces, only an orthodontist is qualified to straighten your teeth, correct jaw structure issues, and improve the actual function of your bite and smile.
Officially, the American Association of Orthodontists and Dr. Allison Tomlin recommend that children have their first visit with an orthodontist around age seven. Every mouth is different, though, and you might want to see your Dr. Tomlin a little earlier if you notice problems with your child’s teeth or bite.
Orthodontia isn’t just for kids, of course. About 20% of all orthodontic patients are 21 or older, and your family orthodontist can help you determine the right time to get appliances for your teen.
In most cases, malocclusions are genetic, meaning you inherit them from your parents. Crowded teeth, spacing issues, extra teeth, jaw growth, formation problems, and other common crooked teeth issues are all determined mostly by your genes.
Sometimes, behaviors and diseases can cause orthodontic issues, too. Thumb sucking is an example of a bad habit that can cause malocclusions.
Certain dental conditions can create problems that require orthodontic treatment. You may also have alignment or jaw issues from accidents, injuries, and other trauma to your mouth or jaw.
Think about how much you use your mouth!
Orthodontic treatment is way more than just a cosmetic treatment. An orthodontist like Dr. Allison Tomlin addresses problems like your jaw position, your bite, how your teeth fit together, and things like crowding that can make it impossible to clean your teeth properly.
Without treatment, you're likely to experience more severe problems later, including:
- Jaw strain and pain
- Enamel wear
- Gum disease
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Bone loss
Having a beautiful smile that makes you feel confident is important and shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s just not the only thing you should consider.
An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Allison Tomlin can do a lot more than you might expect! Still, every case is different, and without a personal consultation, you won’t know your options.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Tomlin to get personalized recommendations about orthodontic treatment.
If you have missing teeth and you're considering getting braces or aligners, that's not a problem. Getting orthodontic treatment at MWDS can help stabilize your bite and help you keep your mouth healthy.
The best treatment option will depend on your plans. Your orthodontist can keep the space open if you want to replace your missing tooth. Especially if your tooth has been missing for a while, orthodontic treatment can help.
You may not want to replace your missing tooth, and in that case, your orthodontist may be able to close the gap. Even if there will still be some space, treatment can help stabilize your bite to prevent and minimize shifting and bone loss in the future. Your orthodontist will work with your dentist and other specialists to get the best possible result.
While you're getting orthodontic treatment, your teeth will move and strain your gums. Your orthodontist will have to consult with your periodontist and your dentist about the health of your gums to determine if you're ready for treatment.
Suppose your periodontist clears you for orthodontic treatment. In that case, you'll continue having regular visits with your dentist or periodontist and your orthodontist to make sure everything is going well. Many patients find that fixing their malocclusions is important to keep gums healthy.
You're never too old for orthodontic treatment as long as you have healthy teeth. Age doesn't figure in when determining treatment efficacy.
Many adults choose to get braces or clear aligners to create a better bite, address malocclusions, and decrease the risk of future dental problems. If you're worried about how you'll look with braces, there are plenty of discreet options available.
Modern orthodontic appliances aren't what they used to be. For teens and adults who want something less visible than traditional braces, you have various options.
Not all appliances are suitable for every situation, but you can find an option that works for you. Ask your orthodontist about discreet aligners and brackets during your first consult.
Whether you're considering treatment as an adult or your teen is concerned about getting braces, there are plenty of modern treatment options that suit any lifestyle.
Your treatment won't stop you from doing the things you already love, like playing musical instruments and participating in sports. You'll still look great in photos, too.
Of course, there will be some temporary adjustments during your treatment. You'll want to avoid certain foods and take special care to keep your appliances clean for just a little while. The vast majority of orthodontic patients adapt quickly and don't find their treatment disruptive.
While you have an orthodontic appliance, it’s especially important to keep it clean and fresh. Here are some tips:
- Floss every day at least once, and brush your teeth after each meal
- Use fluoride toothpaste, and if your orthodontist recommends it, a fluoride rinse as well
- Whenever you take out your retainer, put it safely in its case. Brush and floss before putting it back in
- Gently brush your retainer to keep it clean, and use a denture cleaning solution if desired
- Never put your retainer in hot water or the dishwasher
- Try to avoid sugary foods during treatment
- Follow your orthodontist’s recommendations and avoid sticky, chewy, and hard foods that can get stuck in your braces
- Keep your regular dentist appointments
Common Braces Questions
This seems like an obvious answer, but modern braces might not be what you think. Options include:
- Ceramic Braces
- Lingual Braces
- Self-ligating Brace
- Traditional Metal Braces
Each is composed of brackets and wires, but the appearance, placement, and technologies are far beyond what you remember from your school days. Ask your orthodontist about the different types.
Ceramic braces are the same as traditional metal braces, except they are clear! Ceramic braces are a less noticeable alternative to traditional metal braces and provide patients with an equally effective treatment.
Clear aligners are different from braces. Clear aligners are a series of plastic trays custom-designed to fit into your mouth like a mouthguard.
As with any orthodontic treatment, choosing the right option for your needs and lifestyle is essential. Ceramic braces are a great alternative to traditional metal braces, and your orthodontist will help you determine whether they are the right treatment for you.
Advantages of Ceramic Braces:
Appearance: Ceramic braces are much less noticeable than traditional metal braces. Ceramic braces offer an esthetic alternative for patients seeking options other than traditional metal braces.
Confidence: Many patients who choose ceramic braces feel more confident about their orthodontic treatment, especially knowing that people are focusing on their smiles rather than their braces
Disadvantages of Ceramic Braces:
Cost: Ceramic braces may cost more than traditional metal braces. Your orthodontist may offer convenient payment plans to help control your treatment costs.
Discoloration: The clear elastic ties used with ceramic braces may become slightly discolored when you drink tea, coffee, or wine and eat certain foods or smoke.
Ask your orthodontist about how you can keep your braces looking their best.
Treatment Time: Orthodontic treatment with ceramic braces may take longer than traditional metal braces. If you don't mind investing a little more time in your smile, talk to your orthodontist to find out how long your treatment time will be with ceramic braces.
By talking to Dr. Allison Tomlin, you can decide if ceramic braces are the right treatment. Dr. Tomlin can provide answers to your questions and extra information explaining the benefits of each treatment.
If you would like to learn more about ceramic braces and all of the options available to you, please contact MWDS and schedule free consultation today.
Treatment time varies from person to person, and it depends on your malocclusions, how your teeth respond to treatment, and how well you follow directions.
Orthodontic treatment with Dr. Allison Tomlin takes anywhere from 6 months to 30 months, and the average treatment time is about 22 months.
Modern braces are far more comfortable than what you might remember from 15 years ago. As your teeth, gums, and mouth get used to the appliances, there may be discomfort, but an over-the-counter pain reliever helps.
As long as you have braces on, you should brush your teeth about three times daily (after each meal) and floss at least once per day. It's important to remove any food that might get caught under your wires.
Your orthodontist can show you the best way to brush and floss around your brackets.
Keep having checkups with your dentist every six months during orthodontic treatment! It's even more important because your dentist can ensure your teeth are clean and healthy.
Braces can cause food to get caught where your toothbrush can’t reach, which leads to bacteria buildup and might contribute to cavities, gum disease, and other hygiene issues.
Your dentist is your best line of defense and will make sure that your teeth and gums stay healthy while Dr. Allison Tomlin works on the smile you want.
Braces won't stop you from participating in any of the activities you love, though you might want to make some adjustments for comfort and safety. Wear a mouthguard if you play any contact sport, and give your mouth a little time to adjust to your braces.
If you're a little uncomfortable while playing an instrument or participating in other activities, ask about using an over-the-counter pain reliever to help.
Dr. Allison Tomlin takes care of your mouth for about one day every month. You take care of your mouth every day.
Successful orthodontic treatment requires a partnership between you and Dr. Tomlin. They can help guide you through the process, provide appliances, and make carefully calibrated adjustments to move your teeth into their proper positions slowly.
It's your job to follow instructions, keep your appointments, and keep up with your oral hygiene so that the result is what you expect. You should also keep seeing your regular dentist every six months for checkups because decay and cavities don't take a break just because you're getting your teeth straightened.
There's a lot to consider when calculating your treatment costs. Like we've said in earlier answers, every mouth is different, and the price of your treatment will depend on your choices and your needs. Depending on the severity of your malocclusions, the complexity of treatment, and the options you select, your costs could vary dramatically.
Most patients find that treatment is far more affordable than they expect. You can likely get the smile you want with low monthly payments with payment plans, insurance benefits, and flex spending accounts. Ask about fees and options before your treatment begins.
The Invisalign system is the virtually invisible way to straighten your teeth and achieve the smile you've always wanted.
Invisalign uses advanced 3D computer imaging technology to depict your complete treatment plan, from the initial position of your teeth to the final desired position. Then, a series of clear aligners are custom-made for your teeth – and your teeth only – to move them little by little.
You'll wear each aligner for about two weeks before replacing it with the next in the series until you reach your final goal. Your orthodontist will determine your Invisalign treatment time based on your specific needs.
- Time for a snack? No problem. Take out your aligners to eat or drink whenever you want.
- You can remove your Invisalign aligners to brush and floss regularly and keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- You can occasionally remove your Invisalign aligners and enjoy a special night out.
- There's no need to change a thing. Continue your day-to-day activities while still straightening your teeth.
- Be yourself with Invisalign aligners. Since they are clear, you don't have to hide your smile while undergoing treatment.
- With Invisalign treatment, it's easy to make your smile picture-perfect for that special occasion.
- Invisalign appointments work with your schedule. Most visits are in and out, with a quick progress check every six weeks.
Invisalign aligners are clear, making Invisalign a seamless fit with your lifestyle and day-to-day interactions with others. Invisalign aligners are removable. Unlike braces, you have the flexibility to eat and drink what you want during treatment simply by removing the aligners when you eat.
You can also remove the aligners to brush and floss as you normally would for fresh breath and good oral hygiene.
Unlike traditional metal braces, Invisalign treatment does not use metal brackets or wires that could irritate your mouth. In addition, you'll spend less time in the doctor's chair and scheduling appointments and more time doing the things you love.
Lastly, Invisalign's technology allows you to view your virtual results and treatment plan before you start your treatment to preview how your straight teeth will look once your treatment is complete.
More than 3,000,000 patients worldwide have been treated with Invisalign. The number of Invisalign smiles grows daily.
At your next appointment, Dr. Allison Tomlin can help answer any questions you might have and get you started on the smile you've always wanted.
Education and Training
Orthodontists like Dr. Allison Tomlin receive an additional two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn how to align and straighten teeth.
Only those who complete this formal education may call themselves "orthodontists," and only orthodontists can be members of the American Association of Orthodontists.
Understanding Your Treatment Options
There are many treatment options these days, from retainers and clear aligners to metal or ceramic braces. They each have their uses.
Orthodontists like Dr. Tomlin have the specialized education and experience to consider all possibilities based on variables like age, possible jaw imbalances, differences in the size of your teeth, and more. Dr. Tomlin knows what to use and when to use it and will work with you to make the best decision—for your best smile.
Managing your Invisalign Treatments
Only a licensed orthodontist like Dr. Tomlin can design and develop your orthodontic treatment plan and manage the plan throughout your treatment program to ensure that all necessary corrections and adjustments are made to achieve a healthy and beautiful smile successfully.
Surgical Orthodontics FAQs
Surgical orthodontics can treat adults with improper bites or other aesthetic concerns. Typically, jaw growth stops by age 16 in females and 18 in males. In surgery, the jaw must be done growing.
The need for surgical orthodontics occurs when the jaws do not line up correctly, and you cannot achieve a proper bite with orthodontic treatment alone. Orthognathic surgery will help properly align the jaw, and orthodontic braces will then move the teeth into their proper position.
Your orthodontist can tell you if you need orthognathic surgery as part of your treatment. Depending on the severity of your case and the alignment of your jaw, you may or may not need surgery.
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will perform your orthognathic surgery in a hospital or outpatient facility. Orthognathic surgery can take several hours, depending on each case.
Since orthognathic surgery is a major treatment, we recommend that you schedule some time away from work and school during the healing process. After surgery, you will have to wear braces for about six to 12 months. Finally, you will wear a retainer to help maintain your new smile.
There may be certain risks of having orthognathic surgery, as with any major medical surgery. However, the process of orthognathic surgery is not new, and it has been performed for many years in practices and hospitals.
If you're concerned about an upcoming treatment with orthognathic surgery, please contact our practice and let us know. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and provide you with additional information. Your comfort is important to us.
The most important reward of having orthognathic surgery for many patients is achieving a beautiful and healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.
Whether you need treatment to correct a bad bite, malocclusion, or jaw abnormality, orthognathic surgery can help restore your confidence and leave you smiling for many years.
- Appliance – Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth that moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw.
- Archwire – The metal wire that acts as a track to guide your teeth as they move. It is changed periodically throughout treatment as your teeth move to new positions.
- Band – A metal ring that is cemented to your tooth that goes completely around it. Bands provide a way to attach brackets to your teeth.
- Bond – The seal created by orthodontic cement that holds your appliance in place.
- Bracket – A metal or ceramic part cemented (“bonded”) to your tooth that holds your archwire in place.
- Coil Spring – A spring that fits between your brackets and over your archwire to open space between your teeth.
- Elastic (Rubber Band) – A small rubber band that is hooked between different points on your appliance to provide pressure to move your teeth to a new position.
- Elastic Tie – The tiny rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. They come in a variety of colors.
- Headgear – Headgear uses an external wire apparatus known as a facebow to guide the growth of your face and jaw gently by moving your teeth into proper position. The force is applied to the facebow by a spring-loaded neck strap or head strap. The straps have a safety release that disconnects if the facebow is pulled or snagged.
- Headgear Tube – A round, hollow attachment on your back bands. The inner bow of your headgear fits into it.
- Hook – A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.
- Ligature – A thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.
- Lip Bumper – A lip bumper is an archwire attached to a molded piece of plastic. The lip bumper holds back the molars on your lower jaw to provide more space for your other teeth.
- Mouthguard – A device that protects your mouth from injury when you participate in sports or rigorous activities.
- Palatal Expander – A device that makes your upper jaw wider.
- Retainer – An appliance that is worn after your braces are removed, the retainer attaches to your upper and/or lower teeth to hold them in place. Some retainers are removable, while others are bonded to the tongue side of several teeth.
- Separator or Spacer – A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth before the bands are attached.
- Tie Wire – A fine wire that is twisted around your bracket to hold the archwire in place.
- Wax – Wax is used to stop your braces from irritating your lips.
- Banding – The process of fitting and cementing orthodontic bands to your teeth.
- Bonding – The process of attaching brackets to your teeth using special orthodontic cement.
- Cephalometric X-ray – An X-ray of your head that shows the relative positions and growth of the face, jaws, and teeth.
- Consultation – A meeting with your orthodontist to discuss a treatment plan.
- Debanding – The process of removing cemented orthodontic brackets from your teeth.
- Impressions – A model of your mouth made by biting into a soft material that hardens into a mold of your teeth. Your orthodontist will use these impressions to prepare your treatment plan.
- Invisalign® – An alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign straightens your teeth with a series of clear, custom-molded aligners. Invisalign can correct some, but not all, orthodontic problems.
- Ligation – The process of attaching an archwire to the brackets on your teeth.
- Panoramic X-ray – An X-ray that rotates around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaw, and other facial areas.