Nothing lights up your face like a great smile, and straight white teeth are an important part of that picture. Few people are born with perfect teeth, however. That’s where orthodontic treatment at Beach Braces Orthodontics can make a big difference in both the looks and health of your teeth, mouth and jaw.
About Dr. Panucci
Dr. Patricia Panucci is a Manhattan Beach orthodontist who specializes in making your smile the best it can be. An orthodontist is not just a dentist, but a specialist in the field with extra training beyond the basics of dentistry. She will be able to assess dental problems, develop a plan to correct them and advise you on the best course of treatment for you or your child. Orthodontic treatment is complex and offers many options; Dr. Panucci can help you make the best choice for your situation.
Why Orthodontic Treatment?
Malocclusion is the technical term for problems with your bite. This occurs because the teeth or jaw are not aligned properly. You might have an overbite, in which the top front teeth protrude over the bottom teeth. If your teeth are too crowded, it may be more difficult to brush and floss properly. Tooth decay and gum disease can result, affecting not only the health of your teeth but of your entire body. Other malocclusions can result in uneven tooth wear or problems with tooth growth as the permanent teeth begin to come in.
When to Start
Ideally, a child should have an orthodontic consultation at about seven years of age. This is when the first adult molars erupt, which establishes the bite in the back of the mouth. Although seven is too young for braces, an early consultation can start the process and pave the way for success when the appliances are actually applied. The exact age at which orthodontic treatment begins varies with the individual, but for children it generally begins when all the permanent teeth have erupted and the 12-year molars have come in. Some children may have a severe underbite (the lower jaw protrudes), a condition in which the jaw continues to grow well into the teens. If dental appliances are applied too early, these children may outgrow the correction and need further treatment, so the doctor will usually wait until their growth has stabilized. Orthodontic treatment isn’t just for children, though. Adults may also need treatment, either because they didn’t receive treatment while young or because something has changed. If an adult loses a tooth, for example, other teeth may shift.
Orthodontic treatment includes a variety of different choices. Lingual brackets are an option that allows your braces to be invisible. Applied to the inside of the teeth, these don’t show at all. The focus is on the six upper and lower teeth in the front of the mouth that are most visible when you smile. This treatment is often quite short — 12 to 24 weeks. This is a good choice for people in the public eye, those who travel a lot and have difficulty making regular visits, or those who have other scheduling difficulties.
Some kinds of treatments can allow you to eliminate the wires and elastic bands used to tighten dental appliances. On the other hand, Wide Smiles is a form of treatment that can liven things up a bit. This treatment uses colored elastics and wires, and brackets shaped like tiny footballs, stars, hearts and other shapes. Invisalign is a treatment that uses a custom-fitted plastic cover.
It is generally not noticeable even when covering the teeth. Invisalign does require extra steps as each cover must be custom-created to make the necessary changes in your teeth. Since it can be removed, however, it’s much easier to brush and floss your teeth. Ceramics are another option that are also less visible than metal.
Cost may be a factor in choosing a particular type of orthodontic treatment. Treatments that are more complex or take longer are usually more expensive.
Some people may be a little sore after an adjustment, but orthodontic treatment rarely causes much pain. Dr. Panucci will work with you or your child to minimize any discomfort.
How Long will It Take?
Treatment time varies according to the individual. Severe malocclusions may need longer. In general, treatment times vary from 12 to 30 months, with average treatment times of 22 months. You will need an office visit every five to 10 weeks.
Once your treatment is finished, you may also choose to have your teeth whitened. You can choose from several possibilities. Dr. Panucci recommends Opalescence Treswhite Supreme teeth whitening trays. Available only from professional dental specialists, this treatment uses 15% hydrogen peroxide and can have noticeable results within seven to 10 days.
How You Can Help
That perfect smile will be more easily achieved if you are an active participant in your orthodontic treatment. A missed appointment is a missed opportunity, so don’t miss. Speaking of appointments, you will still need regular appointments with your family dentist for check-ups and cleaning in addition to your appointments with Dr. Panucci. Your oral hygiene is another important aspect of orthodontic treatment. We recommend you brush your teeth four times a day: after each meal and just before you go to bed. You’ll also learn how to floss your teeth during your orthodontic treatment. Dental appliances can be broken or dislodged. You’ll need to avoid foods like popcorn, hard candy and sticky candies like taffy or caramel. If you play sports, you should wear a mouth guard. Keep a list of questions or concerns to address at each visit or call us.
Come See Us
Today is the day to take your first steps toward that perfect smile for you or your child. Please call our Manhattan Beach office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Panucci for a free initial consultation. Your teeth will thank you and you will love looking in the mirror!