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Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities (malocclusions*).  Orthodontic treatment is provided by an oral health care provider known as an Orthodontist, who has typically completed two to three years of additional training beyond dental school.

Recent years have brought about many changes within the dental industry, specifically with regards to orthodontic treatment and care.  Now more than ever patients are experiencing fewer incidences of cavities and missing teeth due to the heightened awareness of fluoride use and preventative dentistry.   This increasing awareness on the health and look of a patient’s smile has fueled the desire for many to seek out orthodontia not only as a medical necessity, but for cosmetic reasons as well.

Whether it’s traditional braces or custom made removable appliances, orthodontics can help you have the healthy, straight, beautiful smile you’ve been waiting for!

Give us a call today and schedule your orthodontic consultation!

*Malocclusion is the technical term for teeth that don’t fit together correctly.  Malocclusions not only affect the teeth, but also the appearance of the face.  Most malocclusions are inherited; however some are due to acquired habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting.  The spacing left from an adult tooth being extracted or an early loss of a baby tooth can also contribute to a malocclusion.

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Invisalign®-trained Preferred Providers
have achieved a significant level of experience in treating patients with the Invisalign® system.

Straighten Your Teeth with our Invisalign® Preferred Provider

There are many options for clear braces that you can choose from to achieve a more appealing smile – from off-brands to treatment with clear brackets and wires. However, there’s only one brand of clear orthodontic aligner that paved the way for modern cosmetic braces and has the patented design to appear truly invisible. With Invisalign® in Albuquerque from Dr. Kassam, patients with common cases of misalignment can see straighter smiles, more comfortably and conveniently.

Invisalign®: Clear Braces that WorkInvisalign® with Sarah Kassam, DDS

Like traditional braces, Invisalign® works well to straighten teeth to not only create smiles that look attractive, but allow patients better ability to brush, floss, and keep their teeth clean. Invisalign® is typically recommended for patients with mild to moderate cases of gaps between teeth, overcrowding, tilted or rotated teeth, or even alignment relapse after failing to wear a retainer following an initial orthodontic treatment. Patients love Invisalign® for its many treatment benefits, none of which are attainable with metal braces, including:

• Removability – Pop your aligners out to eat and brush your teeth. No restricting diet rules or trying to maneuver around wires and brackets while brushing and flossing.

• Comfort – Any orthodontic procedure will come with some discomfort, as teeth shift into different alignment, but the appliance itself shouldn’t be uncomfortable. While braces have sharp metal edges, Invisalign® is made of sleek, see-through plastic, so the inside of your mouth does not become irritated throughout the course of treatment.

• Easy Upkeep – Having to visit the dentist or orthodontist every few weeks to tighten your braces is disruptive, but using Invisalign® only requires swapping one tray for another. After Dr. Kassam has made sure that your initial aligners are working as they should be, she can send you home with several at a time, so you can change your aligners at home without a visit to our office.

As Invisalign® treats common misalignment issues, it is effective for a large number of patients. If you have questions about whether Invisalign® is right for you, contact our dental office for your consultation. After your treatment is complete, Dr. Kassam supplies patients with invisible Vivera® retainers, so they can maintain their newly aligned smiles.

Invisalign® Teen

Clear braces are often sought-out by adults who are worried about what they’ll look like with traditional metal braces, but Invisalign® can provide effective care for teenaged patients as well. Young patients with only minor alignment issues do not have to deal with full metal braces and can find the convenience and comfort of Invisalign® appealing. If your child is responsible and willing to wear their aligners for 22 hours a day, Invisalign® teen could be ideal clear braces solution for their needs.

Ready for Clear Braces? Contact our Invisalign® Dentist!

For more information about what Invisalign® can do for you, contact Sandia Dental Care – your home for clear braces in Albuquerque, NM.

The benefits of orthodontic treatment often go beyond the obvious physical changes of an improved bite and straighter teeth; it’s also a great way to improve a person’s overall self-image. While having beautiful straight teeth is important, even more important is the need to alleviate any potential health problems associated with the teeth or jaw. Crooked teeth or jaw problems may contribute to improper cleaning of teeth, leading to tooth decay and, possibly, gum disease or total tooth loss. Orthodontic problems that go untreated can lead to chewing and digestion difficulties, speech impairments, and abnormal wear of tooth surfaces. Over time, excessive strain on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth can affect the jaw joints leading to problems such as headaches or face and neck pain.

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children get an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7. Though orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, timely treatment ensures maximum dental health.

With all of the recent advancements in orthodontics, wearing braces has never been easier. State-of-the-art appliances and treatments are now available, from traditional metal braces, to clear and tooth colored brackets, to NASA type wires that are heat activated and require fewer adjustments! Some patients may even be candidates for treatment with Invisalign, a revolutionary way to straighten teeth using clear, retainer type aligners that require no braces or wires!

If treatment is necessary, we will thoroughly discuss which treatment option is best suited for you!

Reasons for orthodontic treatment (braces) adults & children:

• Breathing or swallowing problems – Mouth breathing can lead to snoring and sleep apnea.
• Crossbite – One or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth (towards the tongue).
• Crowding – Involving extra teeth or malpositioned teeth.
• Deep Overbite – The lower front teeth bite into the upper tissue of the upper teeth.
• Disfiguring of the face & mouth – Affects the development of the jaw and position of the teeth.
• Jaw & jaw joint pain
• Missing or extra teeth – Due to tooth decay, injuries, or inherited problems.
• Overjet (protruding upper teeth) – Upper teeth that protrude beyond normal and are usually associated with a short lower jaw.
• Self-image – An attractive smile can boost a person’s self-image and confidence.
• Spacing between teeth – Teeth are missing or may be too small or too large.
• Speech, chewing or biting problems
• Underbite (lower jaw protrusion) – Lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.

Specific to children:

• Finger or thumb sucking – These habits can cause protrusion of the upper incisor teeth, and mouth breathing.
• Teeth erupting out of position – Can be guided to proper alignment.

What does orthodontic treatment involve?

Orthodontic treatment involves three phases:

1. Planning Phase – Your first couple of visits may include the following:

 A medical and dental history evaluation.
• Castings or “molds” of your teeth.
• Computer generated photograph of the head and neck that will aid in planning.
• Photographs of your face and mouth.
• X-rays of the teeth and jaws.
• After careful planning, your orthodontist will design and apply braces or fabricate custom-made appliances for you.

2. Active Phase – Active treatment involves visiting your orthodontist on a regular basis for adjustments and following specific treatment requirements to ensure successful treatment.

3. Retention Phase – When treatment is completed, the braces and/or appliances are removed and a new appliance is made. Usually these retainers are removable and will maintain the changes made to your teeth if worn continuously until the teeth and bone are stabilized in their new positions.

Treatment and retention times vary depending on each individual case. Your orthodontist will ensure you have a successful treatment for a beautiful smile that can last a lifetime.

Orthodontics can not only help straighten your teeth, giving you an appealing smile, but can greatly contribute to the health of your jaw, teeth and sometimes your overall health.

Orthodontic treatment is highly predictable and immensely successful. Depending on the severity of the malocclusion (bad bite) or irregularity, orthodontic treatments may occur in either two or three distinct phases.

The benefits of correcting misaligned teeth are many. Straight teeth are pleasing to look at and greatly boost confidence and self esteem. More importantly, properly aligned teeth enhance the biting, chewing and speaking functions of the jaw. There are several types of irregularities, including:

• Overbite – The upper teeth protrude further than or completely cover the lower teeth.
• Underbite – The lower teeth protrude further than the upper teeth causing the chin to look prominent.
• Crossbite – Some of the upper teeth may close inside the lower teeth rather than on the outside.
• Overcrowding – Insufficient room on the arch causes some adult teeth to erupt incorrectly and become rotated.

The Phases of Orthodontic Treatment

Generally, orthodontic treatment takes between six and thirty months to complete. The treatment time will largely depend on the classification of the malocclusion, the type of dental devices used to correct it and the perseverance of the patient.

Here is a general overview of the three major stages of treatment:

Phase 1 – The Planning Stage

The orthodontist makes an exact diagnosis in order to realign the teeth in the most effective and expedient way. The first several visits may comprise of some of the following evaluations:

• Medical and dental evaluations – Dental and physical problems tend to go hand in hand. Problems in the oral cavity can lead to (or be caused by) medical problems. The goal of this evaluation is to ensure that prior medical and dental issues are completely under control before treatment begins.

• Study model (castings/bite impressions) – The patient is asked to bite down into a dental tray filled with a gel substance that hardens around the teeth. The trays are removed from the teeth and filled with plaster to create models of the patient’s teeth. Study models enable the orthodontist to scrutinize the position of each tooth, and how it relates to the other teeth.

• Panoramic X-rays – X-rays are fantastic tools for viewing potential complications or pre-existing damage to the jaw joint. X-rays also allow the orthodontist to see the exact position of each tooth and its corresponding root(s).

• Computer generated images – Such images allow the orthodontist to treatment plan and examine how specific treatments may affect the shape of the face and symmetry of the jaw.

• Photographs – Many orthodontists like to take “before, during and after” photographs of the face and teeth to assess how treatment is progressing, and the impact the treatment is having on the patient’s face shape.

Phase 2 – The Active Phase

All of the above diagnostic tools will be used to diagnosis and develop a customized treatment plan for the patient. Next, the orthodontist will recommend custom orthodontic device(s) to gently move the teeth into proper alignment. This orthodontic appliance may be fixed or removable. Most commonly, traditional fixed braces are affixed, which utilizes individual dental brackets connected by an archwire. Lingual braces are also fixed, but fit on the inside (tongue side) of the teeth to make them less visible.

Removable devices are an alternative to fixed braces. Examples of removable devices include the Invisalign system, headgear and facemask. These devices are designed to be worn for a specified amount of hours each day to expedite treatment.

Whatever the orthodontic device, the orthodontist will regularly adjust it to ensure adequate and continual pressure is being applied to the teeth. It is essential to visit the orthodontist at the designated intervals and to call if part of the device breaks or becomes damaged.

Phase 3: The Retention Phase

When the teeth have been correctly aligned, fixed braces and removable devices will be removed and discontinued. The most cumbersome part of the orthodontic treatment is now over. The orthodontist will next create a custom retainer. The goal of the retainer is to ensure that the teeth do not begin to shift back to their original positions. Retainers need to be worn for a specified amount of time per day for a specified time period. During the retention phase, the jawbone will reform around the realigned teeth to fully stabilize them in the correct alignment.

If you have any questions about orthodontic treatments, please contact our office.

Many children are ambivalent about getting braces.  On the one hand, they like the idea of perfect teeth, but on the other hand they are nervous about whether the braces will cause pain and discomfort.  The good news is that the placement of orthodontic braces is not at all painful, and the end result will be a beautiful straight smile.

Although patients of any age can benefit from orthodontic braces, they tend to work much quicker on pre-teens and teenagers since they are still experiencing jaw growth.  The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children should first see an orthodontist around the age of seven years-old.  An orthodontic examination may be beneficial before age seven if facial or oral irregularities are noted.

What Causes misalignment of teeth?

Poorly aligned teeth often cause problems speaking, biting and chewing.  Most irregularities are genetic or occur as a result of developmental issues.  Conversely, some irregularities are acquired or greatly exacerbated by certain habits and behaviors such as:

• Mouth breathing
• Thumb or finger sucking
• Prolonged pacifier use
• Poor oral hygiene
• Poor nutrition

What’s involved when a child gets braces?

The orthodontist initially conducts a visual examination of the child’s teeth.  This will be accompanied by panoramic x-rays, study models (bite impressions) and computer generated images of the head and neck.  These preliminary assessments are sometimes known as the “planning phase” because they aid the orthodontist in making a diagnosis and planning the most effective treatment.

In many cases, the orthodontist will recommend “fixed” orthodontic braces for a child.  Fixed braces cannot be lost, forgotten or removed at will, which means that treatment is completed more quickly.  Removable appliances may also be utilized, which are less intrusive, and are generally used to treat various types of defects.

Here is a brief overview of some of the main types of orthodontic appliances used for children:

  • • Fixed braces – Braces comprised of brackets which are affixed to each individual tooth, and an archwire which connect the brackets.  The brackets are usually made of metal, ceramic, or a clear synthetic material which is less noticeable to the naked eye.  After braces have been applied, the child will have regular appointments to have the braces adjusted by the orthodontist.  Orthodontic elastic bands are often added to the braces to aid in the movement of specific teeth.

  • • Headgear – This type of appliance is most useful to treat developmental irregularities.  A headgear is a custom-made appliance attached to wire that is worn to aid in tooth movement.  A headgear is intended to be worn for 12-20 hours r each day and must be worn as recommended to achieve good results.

  • • Retainers – Retainers are typically utilized in the third phase (retention phase).  When the original malocclusion has been treated with braces, it is essential that the teeth do not regress back to the original misalignment.  Wearing a retainer ensures the teeth maintain their proper alignment, and gives the jawbone around the teeth a chance to stabilize.

If you have questions about braces for children, please contact our office.

Orthodontic braces were historically associated with teenagers. Today, an increasing number of adults are choosing to wear braces to straighten their teeth and correct malocclusions (bad bites). In fact, it is now estimated that almost one third of all current orthodontic patients are adults.

Orthodontic braces are predictable, versatile and incredibly successful at realigning the teeth. Braces work in the same way regardless of the age of the patient, but the treatment time is greatly reduced in patients who are still experiencing jaw growth and have not been affected by gum disease. In short, an adult can experience the same beautiful end results as a teenager, but treatment often takes longer.

Can adults benefit from orthodontic braces?

Absolutely! Crooked or misaligned teeth look unsightly, which in many cases leads to poor self esteem and a lack of self confidence. Aside from poor aesthetics, improperly aligned teeth can also cause difficulties biting, chewing and articulating clearly. Generally speaking, orthodontists agree that straight teeth tend to be healthier teeth.

Straight teeth offer a multitude of health and dental benefits including:

• Reduction in general tooth decay
• Decreased likelihood of developing periodontal disease
• Decreased likelihood of tooth injury
• Reduction in digestive disorders

Fortunately, orthodontic braces have been adapted and modified to make them more convenient for adults. There are now a wide range of fixed and removable orthodontic devices available, depending on the precise classification of the malocclusion.

The most common types of malocclusion are underbite (lower teeth protrude further than upper teeth), overbite (upper teeth protrude further than lower teeth) and overcrowding, where there is insufficient space on the arches to accommodate the full complement of adult teeth.

Prior to recommending specific orthodontic treatment, the orthodontist will recommend treatment of any pre-existing dental conditions such as gum disease, excess plaque and tooth decay. Orthodontic braces can greatly exacerbate any or all of these conditions.

What are the main types of orthodontic braces?

The following are some of the most popular orthodontic braces:

• Traditional braces – These braces are strong and tend not to stain the teeth. They are comprised of individual brackets which are cemented to each tooth and accompanied by an archwire which constantly asserts gentle pressure on the teeth. Traditional braces are generally metal but are also available in a clear synthetic material and “tooth colored” ceramic. The ceramic brackets are generally more comfortable than the metal alternative, but can become discolored by coffee, wine, smoking and certain foods.

• Invisalign® – Invisalign aligners are favored by many adults because they are both removable and invisible to onlookers. Invisalign® aligners are clear trays, and should be worn for the recommended amount of time each day for the quickest results. Invisalign® aligners are more comfortable and less obtrusive than traditional braces, but also tend to be more costly. Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

• Lingual braces – These appliances are usually metal and fixed on the tongue side of the teeth, therefore not seen when a patient smiles. Lingual braces tend to be moderately expensive and in some cases, can interfere with normal speech.

If you have any questions about orthodontic braces, please contact our office.

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