What orthodontists do, how to choose one, and what you may pay.

Even when happy, some people resist smiling. Or they cover their mouth with their hand. Their crooked teeth embarrass them.

That’s when you need to see an orthodontist.

Orthodontists are dentists with advanced training in making teeth move. They can realign crooked teeth into a straight, healthy smile.

It’s a transformation Gwen Henson saw recently when her 15-year-old son gleefully got his braces removed. That’s when she decided to treat herself to an unlikely 50th birthday present: her own set of braces.

“Getting braces was something I had thought about for years,” says Henson, an executive in Tempe, Ariz.
Her smile was only part of it. Henson also knew there are potential health issues when teeth begin shifting.

Henson is not alone. In the U.S., one in five orthodontic patients is an adult, according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).

Here’s what you should know if you’re considering getting orthodontic work done.

What Do Orthodontists Do?

The top reason for seeing an orthodontist is the same for adults and kids – to treat malocclusion, or a “bad bite.”

Orthodontists help straighten teeth and improve your bite by correcting how your teeth fit together and how your jaws line up.

They use braces, trays (also known as aligners), and other appliances — such as headgear, which attach around the head or neck to add more force to help make teeth move. They also use retainers to hold teeth in position.

General dentists often refer patients to orthodontists and sometimes medical doctors such as pediatricians do, too. That’s more likely to happen if a child “doesn’t like their teeth and is being teased about them,” says Michael B. Rogers, DDS, president of the AAO and an orthodontist in Augusta, Ga.

To become an orthodontist, someone must complete four years of dental school, then two to three years of specialized study in orthodontics.

Most general dentists can treat minor orthodontic problems and some do orthodontic work. But they’re more likely to refer complicated cases to an orthodontist.

Why See an Orthodontist

“Most patients see orthodontics as just straightening the teeth, but one of the most important factors is the way the bite fits together at the end of treatment,” says Alan R. Heller, DDS, an orthodontist with offices in Bethesda and Laurel, Md.

Crooked or crowded teeth, as well as overbites and underbites, can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss. That’s because overlapping teeth can be tough to clean.

A bad bite also can cause problems when chewing and talking. Not to mention too much wear, grinding, and clenching.

Orthodontics has come a long way over the years. Primitive but well-designed orthodontic appliances have been found with Greek and Etruscan artifacts, Rogers says.

Stainless steel brackets and wires were introduced in 1927. Clear ceramic or porcelain brackets debuted in the 1970s. In 1999, Invisalign was introduced. It’s a series of clear trays that fit in the mouth and are changed every two weeks. Other tray aligners include ClearCorrect; Simpli5; and Red, White, and Blue.

Today, some braces are may be nearly invisible. Some have clear or tooth-colored brackets. Others are attached to the lingual (back side) of your teeth.

When to Go to an Orthodontist

The AAO recommends that children see an orthodontist no later than age 7, even if there are no problems. That’s because the jaw is still developing and it’s best to catch issues early.

“Most children go into orthodontic treatment when they are between 9 and 14 years old, but the average for girls is a little earlier,” Rogers says.

The typical adult patient might be 26 to 44 years old, but Rogers says he has also put braces on people in their 60s and 70s.

How long will treatment take? Orthodontists customize treatment for each patient. It usually takes one to three years.

Choosing an Orthodontist

To get her son’s teeth straightened, Henson asked family and friends for recommendations. She then interviewed three orthodontists. She decided to use her son’s doctor for her own braces because she liked her son’s treatment plan and the results – well, they made her smile.

The orthodontist also offered a family discount. And his office was convenient. That was a big plus for Henson, since she has appointments every six weeks.

Heller recommends asking how easy it is to schedule appointments. Whether a practice is right for you has a lot to do with the personality of the orthodontist and how good you feel when you’re there.

“The way the office runs and the way the patient is treated can vary quite a bit based on the practice’s philosophy, the personality of the doctor and how friendly the staff is,” Heller says.

Consultation First

Many orthodontists offer free or low-cost consultations. Rogers’ is 45 minutes long. It includes a panoramic X-ray that gives a full-mouth view, photographs, and a medical history.

Among other things, he measures how wide a patient can open her mouth and whether there’s jaw muscle tenderness or clicking, which may indicate grinding. He also measures the protrusion (how much teeth are jutting out) and crowding of the teeth.

Before they leave, patients get an estimate of treatment cost, length, and goals.

What You’ll Pay
Costs for orthodontic work vary by doctor and region. Rogers charges about $5,880 for children and $6,380 for adults, although some may be lower or higher.

Heller says there is a range of prices “from one neighborhood to the next, as well as differences in the way some practices are run.” Some see as many as 100 patients a day. Other practices take fewer patients per day, including Heller’s, which sees 40 patients daily.

More expensive doesn’t always mean better. Go to an orthodontist who offers video games in the waiting room and lavish, high-dollar prizes? You might be paying more for flash than substance, Heller says.

Many orthodontists offer interest-free financing for clients with good credit. And most also offer financing through banks.

In 2010, 60% of all new patients had dental insurance that include orthodontic benefits, according to the AAO.
Ask if there’s a lifetime cap or maximum, or any age limits.

And remember: Just like dental insurance, orthodontic insurance is designed to cover just a portion of the fee, not all of it.

Loves What She Sees
Henson has a high-profile job as executive director of the Arizona Chapter of the National Speakers Association. She once worried what people would think when she showed up at events with braces. But “everybody was very supportive and encouraging,” she says.

Today, when Henson looks in the mirror, she sees a shift in her teeth and her wellbeing.

“Even though I’m still wearing braces, it improves my self-confidence because I know I’m doing something that’s healthy for myself,” Henson says.

By Pamela Babcock
WebMD Feature Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
WebMD Feature Archive

Antero-posterior lingual sliding retraction system for orthodontic correction of hyperdivergent Class II protrusion

Antero-posterior lingual sliding retraction system for orthodontic correction of hyperdivergent Class II protrusion

Soon-Yong Kwon1, Hyo-Won Ahn1, Seong-Hun Kim1*, Young-Guk Park1, Kyu-Rhim Chung2, Cheol-Ho Paik3 and Gerald Nelson4

Author Affiliations

1Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, Kyung Hee University, #1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 130-701, South Korea

2Department of Orthodontics, School of Medicine, Ajou University, Suwon, South Korea

3Department of Orthodontics, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea

4Division of Orthodontics, Department of Orofacial Science, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

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Head & Face Medicine 2014, 10:22  doi:10.1186/1746-160X-10-22

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:http://www.head-face-med.com/content/10/1/22

Received: 20 January 2014
Accepted: 28 May 2014
Published: 5 June 2014

© 2014 Kwon et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.



This report introduces a lingual bonded retraction system (Kinematics of Lingual Bar on Non-Paralleling Technique, KILBON) for efficient sliding mechanics combined with vertical control of the anterior and posterior teeth, which is suitable for Class II hyperdivergent patients.


Design and biomechanics of the KILBON System were described. Two adults with hyperdivergent class II malocclusion were treated with the KILBON system and temporary skeletal anchorage devices (TSADs) on the palate. The first patient was treated with conventional KILBON system on the upper arch and detailed with lingual appliances. The second patient showed the modified design of the KILBON when applied to a low palatal vault.


A large amount of intrusion and retraction of the anterior teeth and simultaneous intrusion of the posterior segment were achieved in short treatment time. Concomitant counterclockwise rotation of the mandible improved the esthetic profile. Periodontal support without dehiscence or bone loss was confirmed on anterior region in spite of large amount of retraction.


This report presented a lingual retraction system that provides simple and effective vertical and sagittal control of both anterior and posterior teeth. The biomechanics are dependable for correcting a dentoalveolar protrusion in a patient with Class II hyperdivergent skeletal pattern.

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Orthodontic Implants: Concepts for the Orthodontic Practitioner

Orthodontic Implants: Concepts for the Orthodontic Practitioner

1Biomaterials Laboratory, Military Institute of Engineering, 22290-270 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
2Department of Orthodontics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 21941-617 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Received 20 July 2012; Revised 24 September 2012; Accepted 18 October 2012

Academic Editor: Timo Sorsa

Copyright © 2012 Carlos Nelson Elias et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Orthodontic implants have become a reliable method in orthodontic practice for providing temporary additional anchorage. These devices are useful to control skeletal anchorage in less compliant patients or in cases where absolute anchorage is necessary. There are a great number of advantages in this new approach which include easy insertion, decreased patient discomfort, low price, immediate loading, reduced diameter, versatility in the forces to be used, ease of cleaning, and ease of removal. However, a proper management of the screws by the practitioner is necessary in order to increase the success rate of the technique. The purpose of this paper is to update practitioners on the current concepts of orthodontic implants and orthodontic mechanics.

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