Torrance and South Bay Orthodontist
Frequently Asked Questions Pertaining to Orthodontics
Orthodontics is a specialty field of general dentistry. It is the practice of preventing and correcting any irregularities in an individual's teeth in order to fix potential speech problems, improve appearance, and help ensure the teeth and jaw function properly. Orthodontics covers a wide range of treatments including various different types of braces, retainers, and other appliances, teeth straightening, teeth whitening and more.
If you or a loved one is considering orthodontic treatment, or feel that you could benefit from orthodontics, we recommend you contact this Torrance and South Bay orthodontist as soon as possible. One of our friendly and experienced staff will be able to schedule your initial orthodontic exam and help you with getting started on your way to a brighter, straighter, healthier and happier smile. We work diligently to see that our clients reach their overall orthodontic objectives.
To learn more about Torrance orthodontic care, call us at (310) 341-4001.
We have also been ValueStar Certified® as a result of our commitment to our clients and our continued high-quality service and professionalism resulting in more than 93% of our patients reporting extreme satisfaction with our services. Before you come into our office, we understand you may have questions about the services we offer and the treatments that would best suit your immediate and future needs. That is why we have compiled a list of our most commonly asked questions and provided you with the answers below:
Can I Just Have Retainers?
In most cases, an individual's orthodontic problems are far too severe, or are simply the wrong type of problem, to warrant being treated with just retainers. Besides having limited capabilities, most retainers are removable and therefore do not get worn enough hours per day to accomplish much tooth movement. Braces or Invisalign are a more realistic and feasible solution.
Certain situations, such as minor irregularities of the teeth, could warrant the use of retainers as an effective solution, even when worn for only short periods of time. During your initial appointment we will be able to review your unique situation and recommend the treatment that will best suit your needs.
Are There Different Types of Braces Available to Me?
Yes, there are different types of braces that can be used. There are traditional (on-the-front-of-the-teeth) braces that can either be clear, or silver metal, and there are behind-the-teeth braces that are silver metal.
Most orthodontists prefer braces that fit on the outside of the teeth because they are more comfortable to the patient and they are easier to adjust. Clear outside braces customarily cost more, but they are typically used when appearance is of the utmost importance, such as with working adults. Inside braces are also an option for working adults or individuals who don't want their braces to be seen, however, the cost is substantially more.
How Do Braces Work?
Braces work by putting pressure on the teeth, which in turn causes the bone holding the teeth to remodel (change the bone's shape), thus allowing the teeth to move. Brackets are glued onto the teeth to serve as attachments to the teeth. Then a flexible, straight wire is tied to the brackets. When the straight wire is attached to the crooked teeth, it will bend or distort. Due to the wire's elasticity, the wire will attempt to return to its original shape, thus putting pressure on the teeth and causing them to move.
What is the Best Age to Get Braces?
Permanent teeth begin to grow in around age 6. Before that, there is no need for a child to have braces as those are their baby teeth and they will eventually fall out. We recommend that all children be examined by an orthodontist by age 7, in order to determine whether or not they may have a need for orthodontic treatment.
The most common age for braces is between the age of 10-13. This is because it is around this age that the last remaining baby teeth fall out and the permanent teeth grow in. There are certain instances, however, when a child may require orthodontic treatment a little earlier, especially if they have an underdeveloped jaw. If that is the case, then the child would require two stages of orthodontic treatment, one to fix the jaw and a second (between 10-13) to straighten the teeth. Early treatments typically involve some baby teeth and only a few permanent teeth, while later treatments will include all permanent teeth (minus the wisdom teeth, which usually grow in closer to adulthood).
As an Adult, Are There Options Available to Me Other Than Traditional Braces?
One of the first things adults tend to ask when they come for orthodontic treatment is whether or not there are options available to them other than traditional, metal braces. Our answer is always, yes. We understand that appearance is important, especially in the work environment. That is why we offer clients a couple of different options to help them straighten their teeth without anyone needing to know they are doing so.
Clear braces and Invisalign have revolutionized the orthodontic field and made it possible for working adults, in almost any profession, to receive the treatment they need in order to straighten their teeth. Patients wearing clear braces or Invisalign frequently report that their coworkers did not even notice they had braces at all. Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly adults, are wearing clear braces or Invisalign today. They work well and hardly detract from an individual's appearance at all.
How Long Will Treatment Last?
Each patient is different. Some treatments last for less than a year, while others take three years or more. From our experience, most treatments take approximately two years to complete. Of course, the time it takes will depend on the difficulty and number of problems to correct. How diligent you are with following through on proper oral hygiene, wearing elastics, keeping appointments, avoiding breakage, and other aspects of your treatment plan will also have an impact on how long you will have to undergo treatment.
Why Treat Children Early?
Whenever possible, treatment should begin when a child’s baby teeth are gone and the permanent teeth have grown in. However, situations can occur that the child’s jaws are so small that the permanent teeth cannot grow in, or the jaws are positioned incorrectly enough that the jaws will not grow symmetrically or in balance. In these cases, the orthodontist may begin treatment early, usually with specifically limited objectives, such as to get the jaws in balance or to create enough room for the teeth to grow in properly. After an objective like this is achieved, it is best to stop the early treatment, utilize retainers, and wait for the permanent teeth to grow in. At this point, the second stage of treatment would begin.
|Early loss of baby teeth, and insufficient room for permanent teeth|
Overlapping teeth are one of the most common reasons people get braces. Overlapping teeth look bad; sometimes it even looks like one tooth is missing due to shadows and stains. Often the gums around overlapping teeth are shrunken or swollen, and consequently are hard to brush and floss. Rarely is there sufficient space for the overlapped teeth to be straightened with retainers.
One of the major causes of low self-confidence and inhibited smiling is crooked teeth. Teeth can be turned, tipped, too long or short, overlapping, above or behind other teeth; in short, there are many ways for a smile to look wrong. Straightening can relieve all these problems, and usually, requires braces or Invisalign.
Most people’s teeth get darker as they age. Sometimes people just have dark teeth. We all realize that whiter teeth can make people look younger. We have an effective way to lighten the teeth using a low concentration bleach gel. The orthodontist makes a model of the teeth and makes a thin transparent rubber mold of the teeth. The mold is trimmed to fit the teeth, the bleaching gel is inserted into the mold and the mold is worn on the teeth for a few hours several days in a row. After 2 weeks or so, the teeth have generally lightened by several shades, and the effects are fairly permanent.
What Makes a Nice Smile?
The goal of orthodontic treatment is:
- The teeth should be straight.
- The upper teeth should show their entire length.
- The upper gums should not show.
- The upper teeth should taper back gradually on the sides so the back teeth contribute to the width of the smile in the corners of the mouth.
- The upper teeth biting edges should be aligned on a line parallel to the lower lip when smiling.
These are the ingredients of a nice smile and are the guidelines used in orthodontic treatment planning.
How Often Will I Have to Come in for an Appointment?
With the advanced technology available today, braces do not need to be adjusted as often as before. With most patients, the first year of treatment will involve appointments every 8-12 weeks. This allows time for the teeth to move between appointments. During the second year, the appointments will be scheduled every 4-6 weeks, because the tooth movement will be smaller and require less time as you approach the end of your treatment.
How Much Should I Expect to Pay for My Orthodontic Treatment?
In our geographic area (Southern California), the main component of orthodontic treatment is the cost to cover the salaries of the knowledgeable and highly-skilled staff assisting the orthodontist. Cost of living in the South Bay area requires us to charge between $3000-$6000 for an average two-year treatment plan. Early treatment, also referred to as Stage One, is usually between $2000-$3000. Clear braces are $400 extra per jaw. We will determine your fee during your initial, no-charge orthodontic consultation appointment, and at that time, our treatment coordinator will be able to provide you with information on the various financing options available to you.
What Financial Arrangements are Available?
Fees for orthodontic treatments can be paid in a variety of ways. We accept cash, checks, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express and a number of other payment methods. If you are able to pay in full at the beginning of your treatment, a discount will usually be given depending on the total treatment cost and the method of payment.
If you need a payment plan, we can usually extend a no-interest 12-month term plan, with an initial down payment of one-third of your total fee. Should you require longer terms, we can recommend a low-fee lender, who can allow 36 months or more of equal payments (depending on credit worthiness).
Will My Insurance Cover Orthodontic Treatment?
In many cases, orthodontic treatment is included as a part of an individual's dental insurance plan. There is one major difference, however, between dental and orthodontic insurance. Unlike dental insurance, orthodontic insurance typically covers only 50% of your treatment with a lifetime maximum or cap. Your maximum orthodontic benefits will depend on your specific policy, but we have seen benefits capped at anywhere between $500-$2000. In some instances, the orthodontic coverage is only provided to children and will exclude adults, so it is important that you thoroughly review your individual plan.
Orthodontist in Torrance and the South Bay: Quality and Personal Care for You
For the last 41 years, we have been providing patients, in the Torrance and South Bay areas, with excellent service and high-quality orthodontic treatment. We are proud members of the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists, Western Los Angeles Dental Society, California State Society of Orthodontists, American Association of Orthodontists, Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, California Dental Association, and American Dental Association.
Dr. Eckhart is a Doctor of Dental Surgery, an Orthodontic Treatment Specialist, an Adult Orthognathic Specialist, and an Airway Assessment/Sleeping Disorders Specialist. He has obtained a credential in dental sleep medicine and is very experienced in treating CPAP-intolerant individuals with snoring problems and obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Eckhart is also an Invisalign Specialist and we have treated upwards of 2,000 patients with Invisalign. In fact, we have been an Invisalign Super Elite Premier provider, an honor that only the top 1% of all Invisalign providers around the world have achieved. In addition, due to Dr. Eckhart's close relationship with orthodontic supply companies, we are able to regularly test new innovations, as they become available so that we can continue to deliver the best treatments possible in our expanding practice.
If you have additional questions about orthodontics, or you think you would benefit from orthodontic treatment, contact our Torrance and South Bay orthodontist at James E. Eckhart, D.D.S., Inc. today.