Smarten Up For Your First Orthodontist Visit

The great Chinese educator and philosopher Confucius once said, “Behind every smile, there are teeth.” No wonder we all care so much for our choppers. In the course of time, however, the usual brushing and home remedy routines that used to be enough cease to be effective in addressing certain dental issues. In our need for answers, we go to the professionals. But wait, should we see a dentist or an orthodontist? How do these two differ? We’re probably more familiar with dentists, but what can we expect from an orthodontist? These are questions commonly raised when talking about dental care, and we’re going to deal with them and related dental matters like treatment options, braces, and Invisalign™ in this article.

1. Let’s start with the basics and see what distinguishes an orthodontist from a general dentist. An orthodontist is basically a dentist but gained specialization by taking up an additional few years of a residency program in orthodontics. Orthodontists are the specialists to-go-to when it comes to treatments like braces because of their more advanced knowledge and better exposure to orthodontic disciplines. This doesn’t mean though that general dentist is prohibited from performing Invisalign™ or some orthodontics. As a matter of fact, they do so, particularly those general practitioners who have completed short orthodontic courses. But generally, they confine their focus to treatments like cleaning, fillings, implants, bridges, and crowns, which are all part of restorative dentistry.

2. Now that the orthodontist-dentist distinction is out of the way, you may be wondering how you are going to recognize an orthodontic specialist if not all dentists are orthodontists. You do this in an almost effortless manner, actually, as you need only to look around once inside a dental office or clinic for things like stationery, business cards, or association or organization logos that signify official membership, like the ones of the American Association of Orthodontics or the American Board of Orthodontics. Otherwise, politely approaching and asking the receptionist or person-in-charge should work perfectly too.

3. How important is it for an orthodontist to be experienced in early-age orthodontic treatment? If you are bringing your child below 7 of age to an orthodontist upon the recommendation of a pediatrician or a dentist, it is imperative that you see a specialist who has a solid track record in handling very young patients that do not yet have all of their adult teeth. It may not be that easy to find one as there are as many orthodontists who would not touch such young patients as there are orthodontists who would. The American Association of Orthodontics advises parents to have their children checked for Orthodontic Evaluation at age 7. But in special dental cases where much younger kids suffer from having narrow upper jaws, crowded teeth, and habits like severe mouth breathing and finger over- or under-biting, there is a need for immediate attention and treatment. Extreme care and diligence are vital in the choice of an orthodontist under these circumstances.

4. Another important thing to take note of would be the tech-savviness of your chosen orthodontist. The field of orthodontics had come a long way since the old days, and modern technology, especially when it comes to braces, now means less patient discomfort, faster treatment, and better results. These days, braces can be self-ligating, made of clear ceramic, and with virtually invisible aligners. Ensure that you go with an orthodontist who has a progressive mindset; one who always upgrades and stays abreast with all that is new in his specialized discipline. Telltale signs to watch out for would be things like an all-digital equipment setup, a virtually paperless office environment, and a web-based or I.T.-maintained communication system.

5. We spoke of invisible aligners earlier as one of the latest trends in braces technology, and by that, we refer to Invisalign™.

Invisalign™ is a clear-aligner treatment that works as an alternative to metal braces. It is made up of clear removable aligners that a patient is made to wear 22 hours a day. Every couple of weeks, a new set of aligners are given to the patient. Teeth move into the prescribed position gradually every time a new set is introduced. Strict cooperation is required from both patient and orthodontist to ensure the success of the Invisalign™ treatment, which, on average, takes 13.5 months.

A common misconception relating to this treatment is that Invisalign™ takes care of everything. The truth is Invisalign™ is only about the manufacturing process and software imaging part of the whole treatment equation. Successful results, for a great part, still rest on the qualification and experience of administering orthodontist. For this reason – and this cannot be overstated – you need to be very careful and precise when choosing your orthodontist.

6. Fees are another matter that you need to be upfront about when dealing with an orthodontist. The important thing to note in this regard is that you are charged a comprehensive fee that covers everything – from appointments to post-treatment retainer checks. There should be paperwork to substantiate your fees-related agreement, though you should watch out for any hidden fees on said paperwork that may charge you for questionable extras. In the event that there are indeed separate fees for things like x-rays or retainers, ensure that those charges are clearly indicated on the agreement to be signed.

7. Speaking of fees, another natural monetary concern will have to do with your ability to pay for orthodontic services. Orthodontists are expected to offer payment plans that should work to a patient’s favor. Financing options can be interest-free, in-house, or one that is provided by a third party. But whatever the scheme, rest assured that you will be offered affordable figures and terms that are within your budget. Pick the payment option that works best for you, and you’re on your way to making one of the best investments of your life where the dividends come in the form of greater confidence and self-esteem.

When you are all done with your treatment, remember that your retainers are going to be your best friend. Wear them nightly, so your teeth remain aligned and looking great for a long, long time. Pledge actually to do that, and your new smile will forever be there.

Understanding The Role Of An Orthodontist

Orthodontic intervention is recommended when one needs a correction in the position of the teeth or bones that make up the jaw. Many people confuse dentists with orthodontists.

Many professionals work as dentists, but there are specializations in the field of dentistry. The dentist analyzes all possible oral problems and determines the necessary treatment. On the other hand, an orthodontist does, has mastery in analyzing the positioning of teeth and the way the mouth closes.

It is necessary to understand the difference. That way, you already know which expert to look for. Dentistry studies prevent and take care of problems in the growth and development of teeth and gums.

Regardless of age, everyone can look for a specialist in orthodontics. Professional knowledge allows these professionals to correct dentofacial dysfunctions. Patient assessments and some other supportive exams are performed.

With the support of a practitioner, many things can be improved about your smile, thus improving health and aesthetics. Restructuring helps in good hygiene, avoiding cavities, and other possible issues.

Key functions

With the help of an orthodontist, you prevent headaches from muscle tension, and incorrect teeth fit. In addition to gastric problems (good chewing decreases the likelihood), there can be improvements in diction, breathing, and self-esteem.

Facial orthopedics is a segmentation of dentistry and is one of the important points about what an orthodontist does. It is the name given to the aforementioned treatments for the correction of bone imbalances or in the jaw muscles. It does not act directly on the teeth but on the bones.

Treatment is recommended for all ages, but ideally, an orthodontics specialist should guide you. Many people find they need orthodontic treatment as soon as possible. Whether for aesthetics or health in general, the monitoring of a professional is indispensable.

Through specific exams, your case can be evaluated, and solutions will be proposed. There are numerous problems involving bites, for example. Without knowing the causes, it is not possible to tailor your teeth, bones, muscle structure, and all other unique features.

To be a specialist in orthodontics, besides attending five years of university in dentistry, you need to do three more years of specialization in the field.

Orthodontics: The basics

An orthodontist has the theoretical knowledge and practical or clinical training to intervene by preventing, intercepting, or correcting problems with dental positioning, occlusion (bite snapping), and other dentofacial dysfunctions.

When planning orthodontic treatment, the practitioner relies on the patient’s physical (clinical) evaluation and complementary examinations: these cover radiographs, cast models, and cephalometric tracings (measurements of the patient’s face).

What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?

Some people need to wear braces, and some don’t. The orthodontist determines this after patient evaluation. Crooked teeth that do not fit properly are difficult to keep clean and maybe lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal problems (in the supporting tissues of the teeth, namely bone, and gums).

They also cause additional stress on the chewing muscles, which can lead to headaches and neck pain. Crooked or misplaced teeth also affect the patient’s appearance.

Orthodontic equipment

Basically, orthodontic brackets are glued, one to each tooth, and the bow or wire runs through each of the brackets through a space called a slot. The arc causes a force within the bracket slot that causes the entire tooth (crown and root) to move.

The practitioner is responsible for planning and executing the treatment. They determine what other mechanics (tooth movements) are needed. Sometimes, it is necessary to extract one or more teeth, use elastic bands, springs, hooks, etc. this is aimed at ensuring alignment and leveling of the teeth as well as the correct fit of the bite.

If I don’t need to use braces, can I still use it? It’s just that I think it’s beautiful. No. Orthodontic braces are not decorations or accessories.

What about the pirate custom gadgets that are sold out there? Are they safe? No. For starters, they are not orthodontic appliances. These pieces glued to the teeth and joined by wire or colored broomstick apply forces to the teeth, which means they will move.

Since there is no kind of planning or criterion as to the intensity and direction of these forces, there is a real danger of losing teeth when wearing these pirate gadgets. The roots may begin to fade, which will make them soft and unable to stay intact.

Improving self-esteem

Orthodontics is a transformative field that can renew anyone’s self-esteem through their dental correction procedures. Many people have suffered from a misaligned tooth.

Do I need to wear braces? This doubt is constant in many people’s minds. But to find the right answer is easy, just visit a professional who understands the subject.

A thorough analysis by a specialist is needed. They can give you an in-depth opinion on the case, deciding whether or not to use an orthodontic appliance. There are many cases that malocclusions can cause problems that go beyond the chewing system, affecting the patient’s face.

Orthodontics in action

The evolution of orthodontic treatment is undoubtedly amazing. It all starts with the appliance being fixed to the teeth by means of a specific resin and assembled by various elements such as brackets and orthodontic wires.

It acts continuously and enables tooth movement in all dimensions of space. For this transformation to be a success, it is important that the practitioner has knowledge of the biomechanics of tooth movement, as well as the biological reactions of the tissues surrounding the teeth.


Welcome to Heintz & Bankhead Orthodontics, with offices in Alton and Carlinville, Illinois! Our practice is dedicated to providing quality orthodontic treatment for adults, teens, and kids in a fun, caring, and professional environment.

We offer many ways to straighten teeth, from tried-and true metal braces and Invisalign to wires bent by robots and lingual braces that go on the inside surfaces of your teeth!  We believe in offering many options because no two people (or mouths) are the same.  Rest assured – we’ll be sure to help you choose the best option for your teeth and your lifestyle!

So go ahead. Explore your options. Ask us. Tell us.  We’ll Listen

We pride ourselves on being one of the few ELITE Invisalign providers in the world! Our experience with Invisalign means you’ll get the best results in the quickest, most comfortable way possible.  Using our state-of-the-art ITero Digital Scanner, we can even do your entire treatment without a single goopy impression!

CONTACT US to schedule your complimentary exam today!