If you have uneven teeth and want to have the issue corrected but you also need some of your teeth repaired, you may be wondering if you can address both issues at the same time. As with many dental issues, the answer depends largely on what precisely needs done. Learning about your options will help you understand the proposed timetable of your treatment and make you feel more confident in the process.
What Orthodontics Can Do for You
Orthodontics is also known as dentofacial orthopedics, because it is a field of dental specialization that addresses malpositioning of the teeth and jaws. An orthodontist uses braces, retainers, Invisalign and other dental appliances to realign your jaws and teeth, resulting in easier chewing and a better aesthetic outcome. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct severe issues.
The Difference Between Orthodontics and General Dentistry
This is an important distinction that, once understood, will make your treatment plan clearer. A dentist has graduated from a dental college and usually focuses on treating decay and dental disease. An orthodontist has attended even more schooling after graduation and has made orthodontics their focus. In other words, all orthodontists were dentists first, but not all dentists go on to become orthodontists. Some orthodontists choose to treat all dental issues, while others focus solely on orthodontics. If your orthodontist also offers repair work, rest assured that he or she is perfectly qualified to handle both general dentistry and orthodontics.
Dual Treatment Plans
If you need repairs to your teeth such as fillings, crowns, root canals, veneers or bonding, you may be able to have those repairs handled during your orthodontic treatment provided the procedures don’t get in the way of each other. For example, if you need repair work to your molars but also want to address crowded or crooked front teeth, it will likely be possible to do both treatment plans at the same time. On the other hand, if you want veneers and need braces, you may need to wait to complete orthodontics before being fitting for veneers because bracing brackets shouldn’t be applied to veneers. If you’re a candidate for Invisalign, which goes behind the teeth, you can likely have your veneers done right away because veneers are affixed to the front of your teeth. Where the work needs done greatly affects the treatment plan.
Repair Work First
For some situations, you will need to have the repair work handled first. Those who have chips or cracks in their teeth may need to have them repaired first, as some orthodontic procedures place pressure on the teeth. If you have decay where the dental appliances will be attached, repairs will need to come first.
If your repair work is largely cosmetic, such as staining that veneers will cover, you may want to have the orthodontics done first. As orthodontics concentrates on the position of your teeth and jaws, your cosmetic work will look better and may be less extensive if you have the alignment of your teeth corrected first.
When Both Repair and Orthodontics Are Done Together
If your treatments can be done together, the only constraints are usually your own tolerance for discomfort and ability to heal. Orthodontic work takes time to see results, but you can usually have repair work done as quickly as you like. For example, you may decide to have all your fillings handled in one long session or break them up into several visits. Root canal work with a permanent crown is usually a two-visit procedure, and veneers can take anywhere from one to five visits or more. Keep in mind that even if the procedures you’re undergoing aren’t uncomfortable at all, your jaw may need time between visits to recover from any soreness. This is especially true if you have any TMJ issues, such as arthritis. Talk to your orthodontic practitioner about your scheduling needs and desires. He or she will be able to give you a realistic timeframe as to when you can expect all of your treatments to be completed.
A Word About Recovering from Extractions
Whether you’re an adult who still has wisdom teeth or some of your molars are beyond repair, you may need more time than you realize to fully recover from extractions. While the empty socket may heal up and harden within a week or so, you may not want to undergo more treatment for several weeks to ensure you healed completely. Even if the extractions are in the back of your mouth and you need repair work in the front, it’s usually best to wait because fragments of tooth or dental amalgam can get into the fresh scar tissue and irritate it. An extraction site is just like any other wound and will need to be kept clean until it has healed entirely.
If you need orthodontic work and want to discuss a treatment plan, call Dr. Gluck’s office today to schedule an appointment. We will be happy to review your needs and formulate a treatment plan to get you the smile you want within a reasonable timeframe.