Orthodontics: Fact vs. Fiction

Many people–both children and adults–hold misconceptions about the field of orthodontics and life with braces. This can make paying a visit to an orthodontist daunting; if you aren’t equipped with accurate information, you might have some considerable fear. Luckily, your fear can certainly be assuaged with a few facts. Let’s go over some common misconceptions about orthodontists and set the record straight.

Myth: Visiting the Orthodontist Means I’ll Have Teeth Extracted

orthodontics-tipsNobody likes the idea of tooth extraction. While this is certainly a procedure performed by orthodontists in individual cases, it’s become rarer and rarer as less invasive treatment options have been developed. Modern orthodontists have great mapping technologies that allow us to understand better how braces and aligners will move and shape your teeth. This means more accurate predictions about how your teeth will move together or apart, and less tooth extraction as a result. At Smile Orthodontics, we use a state-of-the-art iTero 3D scanning system to do this. Also, when using Damon Braces, we rarely encounter the need to extract permanent teeth. In some cases, early orthodontic treatment can even reduce the risk of permanent tooth extractions.


Even with this new technology, there are two factors that most often lead to tooth extraction: tooth decay and overcrowding. Maintaining proper oral health will easily combat tooth decay, but certain cases of overcrowding make tooth extraction necessary for straightening. Sometimes, there’s just not enough room for all those teeth to properly develop. Even when this is needed, modern extraction techniques make the procedure exponentially less painful than it’s ever been. 

Myth: Orthodontists Just Provide Braces

While traditional metal braces have been an orthodontic mainstay for a very long time, a few new technologies are moving the field away from brackets and wires. Increasingly popular is the Invisalign system. An efficient replacement for traditional metal braces in mild to moderate cases of crookedness, gapped teeth, overbites, crossbites, and underbites, these invisible aligners can work wonders. They’re completely removable, which means you can eat whatever your heart desires. Also, nobody will ever know you’re wearing them!

At Smile Orthodontics, the cost is the same whether you choose to get Invisalign or braces. We take the cost out of the equation so that you can choose whatever treatment best fits your lifestyle. We are Elite Invisalign providers and we can tackle any kind of orthodontic cases with clear aligners. The smiles they help create last a lifetime, and we certainly believe they’re worth it!

Myth: Braces are Painful and Annoying

braces-treatmentFor most people, metal braces don’t hurt. Certainly, you shouldn’t be feeling any sharp pains at any point, and no real dull pain after the first week or so. This dull pain is usually just soreness as your teeth and jaw get used to the new forces acting on them. By keeping Advil on hand, you won’t have much to worry about at all.


Occasionally, metal brackets and wires can rub against the inside of your mouth and lips. This can lead to irritation, but it can be easily avoided with a tasteless wax applied to the offending area. By understanding these potential annoyances, you can minimize any discomfort on your road to a great smile! At Smile Orthodontics, we provide our patients with 24/7 access to care instructions for their braces. You can find more information here.

Myth: Orthodontic Treatment is Just for Kids

This myth stems from the fact that orthodontic treatment usually begins when a patient’s a child or adolescent. By starting early, we can provide results sooner. This also allows us to provide treatments that take advantage of a still-growing mouth.


orthodontic-factsThis doesn’t mean we don’t treat adults. You could be someone who’s never once paid a visit to an orthodontist, and it’s likely that we have treatments available to tackle your precise situation. Among adults, Invisalign is an incredibly popular treatment. This is because many people often don’t want the baggage associated with metal braces complicating their busy lives. Sometimes, though, metal braces are the best solution–even for adults–and the best treatment may be provided this way. Consult an orthodontist for advice about your options.

Myth: Treatment is Too Expensive

Many people are dissuaded from seeking treatment because they think it’s just too expensive. At Smile Orthodontics, we work our hardest with patients to make sure their treatment is affordable as possible. We offer payment plans that make the cost manageable, no matter what treatment is provided.

Dental insurance plans are increasingly likely to cover treatment for both children and adults; it’s certainly worth checking with your provider to see what’s included in your plan.

It’s important to note that the confidence inspired by your great smile isn’t quantifiable. The way you look and feel about yourself is significant, and these are the areas that Smile Orthodontics shines in. We want you to get the best bang for your buck, and our many satisfied patients have seen the results!


Myth: All Orthodontists Are the Same

While any certified orthodontist has to go through specific training, not all practices are the same. Many don’t offer Invisalign technology, great payment plans, and access to a state-of-the-art office. Smile Orthodontics has all of these, and we love seeing the results they help our experienced doctors provide.

The best way to experience this difference is to visit our office for a consultation. Smile Orthodontics will be able to answer any more questions you have at this meeting, and you’ll see for yourself what sets us apart as a practice. If you have any other immediate questions, please visit our Life With Braces page or give us a call at 707.546.8600 to make an appointment at our Santa Rosa or Windsor office today. See you soon!

Your Child’s First Orthodontic Visit: What Age and Why?

Sonoma County Santa Rosa Orthodontics
Dr. Eliason

As your child’s baby teeth fall out to be replaced by a permanent set, you might wonder about bringing them in for their first visit to the orthodontist’s office. Luckily, our team at Smile Orthodontics has tons of experience with first-time visitors, and we’re more than happy to help you out through what can be a nerve-racking time for any parent.

Mapping Things Out

Perhaps the most important reason for younger patients to come in is to get an early orthodontic screening. We can do this once most of the permanent teeth have come in—generally, that’s around the age of seven. This process is pretty straightforward. We want to identify any possible issues before they get very far along. Sometimes, we call this “interceptive treatment,” which just means catching problems as the mouth is still developing. This strategy has some great benefits for your child, including:

– An understanding of how permanent teeth will come in and develop

– Identifying any bad habits before they cause too much damage

– Thwarting future damage to protruding teeth

– Improving a child’s self-esteem by way of heightened confidence in his or her  appearance

Most of our patients won’t require corrective treatment as a result of what’s identified in a first consultation, but the assuredness that results from this free meeting can be invaluable. By knowing what to expect as your child’s teeth develop, you’ll know what to look out for as abnormalities. One of our doctors’ biggest priorities is a parent’s understanding of the situation, and we do everything we can to assure that you know exactly what’s going on.

Sonoma County Santa Rosa Orthodontics

We also recommend that children have their first visit to the dentist’s office before the age of two. A dentist will make sure all of the baby teeth are normal, and can refer you to an orthodontist if a visit should be made sooner than usual. Make sure to continue regular visits to the dentist, as it can be very difficult to identify dental issues without a trained eye. It’s what we do!

Regular Visits

This first orthodontic visit marks the beginning of a regular monitoring effort meant to ensure lifelong health. Regular check-ins mean we can anticipate problems, and nip them in the bud before they become more difficult to treat in later life. This is incredibly beneficial, as early treatment options avoid both tooth extraction and more expensive techniques. During the time between visits, what kinds of things should you be keeping an eye out for?

Crowding and Spacing

While there can be obvious tooth crowding, it’s sometimes very subtle. Even if it’s not obvious to the untrained eye, these orthodontic problems (called malocclusions) can cause real grief later on in the mouth’s development if left untreated. Make sure to regularly check your child’s mouth for teeth bunched together, teeth with larger than normal gaps between them, and teeth erupting from the gums in abnormal locations.

happy child brushes teeth

If left untreated, these problems increase the likelihood of periodontal disease, tooth decay, and possible jaw problems later in life, not to mention that crowded or gapped teeth can be unsightly, negatively impacting your child’s self-esteem. With identification and treatment, we can make sure your child’s proud of their smile! If you notice any of these problems arising, you should certainly make an appointment with your orthodontist. We’ll be able to diagnose problems in greater detail, and offer treatment plans if necessary.

Irregular Bites

Of all early-arising oral problems, an irregular bite is usually the easiest to detect. Keep an eye out for:

an open bite, where the front teeth don’t meet at all. Usually, this you’ll see an oval-  shaped gap between the top and bottom teeth.

an underbite, where the lower jaw extends farther forward than the upper jaw.

a crossbite, where a bottom tooth or multiple bottom teeth overlap the upper teeth.  Crossbites can sometimes be hard to notice, as a single bottom molar can rest farther towards the outside of the gums than an upper molar. Keep an eye out!

Because these misalignments can be more obvious, they are more likely to negatively impact your child’s self-esteem. As long as they’re caught and treated early, an orthodontist can almost always offer a solution that’ll make a kid proud of his or her smile.

Behavior and Speech

Thumb sucking past the toddler stage can lead to some malocclusions later in life. The effects vary from child to child, so if you’re suspicious of problems caused by this behavior, it’s best to visit an orthodontist for advice. This goes for problems chewing or biting as well, which can indicate a host of oral problems, or nothing strange at all.

A lisp often indicates an oral issue, even if your child’s teeth appear straight. If your child has a lisp, it’s best to visit the orthodontist in order to track down the source.

Sonoma County Orthdontics Santa Rosa

Don’t Take it for Granted

Just because a malocclusion is cosmetic and doesn’t pose a physical health risk, you shouldn’t disregard it. When a child isn’t confident in their smile, there can be very real psychological effects. Make sure to have an open dialogue with your child and your orthodontist to find the best way forward.

One Last Tip

Keep in mind that the age range of about 10-15 is the “sweet spot” for most orthodontic treatments, as the jaw bones haven’t fully taken their adult shape. Treatments during this time, including braces and aligners, can be less difficult and expensive than in adulthood. Modern techniques allow orthodontists to treat people of all ages, but the “sweet spot” still reigns supreme.

If your child hasn’t seen an orthodontist, or you’re looking for somewhere to get a consultation, feel free to contact us here in beautiful Santa Rosa! We’d be happy to start your child on the path to a healthy, beaming smile. Consultations are free, quick, and thorough! Just call 707.546.8600, or visit our website.

Smile Orthodontics Santa Rosa

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