Upland Orthodontics Gray and Ehrler - FAQ

What is an orthodontist specialist?  

An orthodontist is a specialist who has undergone specialty training of 2-3 years in an accredited post-graduate program after graduating from accredited dental school.  A general dentist is not an orthodontist specialist.  An orthodontist has unique skills in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of a wide range of genetic and developmental disorders of the relationship of teeth, jaws and airway.  Orthodontics is more like a medical specialty, quite different than dentistry, because the focus of practice is growth and development.  

At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic consultation?

It’s very important to understand that orthodontic treatment is not just about straight teeth.  The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) recommend an orthodontic screening by the age 7 years.  The old rule of waiting for all the baby teeth to fall out does not apply in contemporary orthodontics.  Most misaligned teeth and bite problems are caused by developmental problems with the jaws sometimes with oral and facial muscle or respiratory problems.  The bite (occlusion) and alignment of teeth reflect global problems of growth and development.  These problems are much easier and more economical to correct in the earliest, formative years between ages 6 and 10 years.  There are many advantages to early treatment, especially psychosocial development.  It is understood that kids who have had early treatment have better self-esteem than those who do not when entering the sometimes difficult adolescent years.

Am I too old for braces?

Smiles change lives.  Nearly 40% of all orthodontic patients are adults.  Professional people recognize that an attractive smile and healthy teeth are essential to self-confidence and esteem.  A beautiful smile shared freely is a desirable attribute in business and in personal relationships.  A beautiful smile shared freely also affects the well-being of everyone around that smile.  So, when an adult chooses to have orthodontic treatment, it’s a gift for everyone else too.  And no one is too old.  Many of the patients at Gray and Ehrler are over 60 years of age.  Adult orthodontic treatment establishes a healthy bite and function that protects the teeth, gums, and TMJ for a healthy lifestyle.  It truly is an investment in life.

What about Clear Aligners and Lingual braces

3D computer-aided technology is changing orthodontics for the better.  Gray and Ehrler utilize cutting-edge technologies in scanning and 3D printing to develop customized treatment for any situation.  Clear aligners are invisible, comfortable plastic trays that are changed frequently to align the teeth.  Lingual braces are braces placed on the inside of the teeth.  A free comprehensive examination by Drs. Gray and Ehrler will determine the most cost-effective and appropriate treatment options to achieve your goals.  Some patients want comprehensive treatment and some don’t.  Clear aligners provide the bridge between with great satisfaction. “Hybrid” orthodontic treatment is the use of braces first to get the harder tooth movements completed in 6 months or less.  The treatment is then finished with customized clear aligners.

How long does it take?

The most important question to ask is, “How long will it take?”  Contemporary orthodontic treatment at Gray and Ehrler Orthodontic Specialists is the shortest treatment time in the industry as measured by published data in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics.  At Gray and Ehrler, average treatment time is 14 months.  Treatment time can be reduced to as little as 3-4 months by SureSmile and surgically facilitated orthodontic therapies.  There are many options for adults and teenagers to accelerate treatment.  All these options will be offered and explained to you during your free consultation.  It is very important to understand that accelerated orthodontic does not harm the teeth or cause any more discomfort that traditional orthodontic therapy.

What is accelerated orthodontics?

Accelerated orthodontic treatment is safe and effective, reducing treatment time by 70%.  SureSmile is a 3D technology that is proven to reduce treatment time as much as 40% and increases the quality of treatment.  We also offer Propel technology for accelerating the response of the teeth to treatment reducing treatment time even further.  Surgically facilitated orthodontic therapy (SFOT) is now a standard of care in unique cases and is capable of reducing treatment time to as little as 3-4 months.

What is surgically facilitated orthodontic therapy (SFOT)?

The name implies an adjunctive surgical procedure that stimulates the body’s normal healing response to accelerate tooth movement and reduce treatment time from an average of 18-24 months to 4- 6 months.  The procedures vary depending upon what is required and is very tolerable.  For some patients it is strictly optional to reduce treatment time.  For others, SFOT restores loss of bone and gum tissues that support the teeth.  This response to the surgical treatment in conjunction with tooth movement with braces or aligners is referred to as tissue engineering not unlike other surgical arts.  Drs. Gray and Ehrler have extensive experience with SFOT in many forms.

What if I need jaw surgery?

Jaw surgery is sometimes necessary to establish orthopedic balance and function to the face, teeth and jaws.  It used to be reserved for the very worst cases.  However, jaw surgery is very safe and tolerable today, and the teeth do not need to be wired together after surgery.  Drs. Gray and Ehrler are experts in surgical orthodontics and have over 40 years of combined clinical and teaching experience in this sub-specialty.

Aren’t Braces expensive?

Braces are affordable to everyone at Gray and Ehrler.  The investment in a healthy, beautiful smile is truly priceless.  The value of having teeth that function properly, avoiding abnormal wear of the teeth or bone loss, is preventive in saving many thousands of dollars in restorative treatments later in life.  And, what is the cost for great self-esteem and confidence?  It is well understood that the self-confidence created by a beautiful smile is and investment for future earnings.  The total cost for treatment at Gray and Ehrler may be slightly higher than some clinics, but the advantage is having over forty years of board-quality experience and state-of-the-art technology to ensure the best possible results for your treatment.  There is also no price you can place on exceptional service provided by an extraordinary Team who are committed to changing lives one patient at a time.

How often do I need to come for appointments?

We know how busy you are.  Orthodontic treatment should not disrupt your lifestyle.  Most appointment intervals are 8-10 weeks due to the technologies of the treatment Drs. Gray and Ehrler use.  Some intervals can go as long as 3-6 months depending upon the conditions.  But, the days of seeing the orthodontist every 3-4 weeks are long gone unless you choose accelerated techniques.

Does my child have to miss school?

Usually not is the best answer.  We strive diligently to provide the most convenient times for school-aged children.  There are some critical appointments which are more concentrated and technical. This is usually when the braces are first placed and when they are removed.  The more routine appointments are best for after school time so school work is not interrupted.  If school attendance is a priority, then there may be some limitations to availability if you should miss a scheduled appointment, since these appointment times are in high demand.   Your cooperation in keeping schedule appointments helps to ensure the best results and happiest experience.

Do Braces Hurt?

Generally braces do not hurt.  When the braces are first placed, the force to move the teeth, although gentle, causes some discomfort.  Usually, this discomfort is easily tolerated.  If more discomfort is experienced than expected, then ibuprofen is recommended.  Tylenol is not an anti-inflammatory and has minimal effect.  If you have sensitivity to ibuprofen or aspirin, you need to inform your orthodontist.  Drs. Gray and Ehrler have 24-hour emergency service to make sure you have access for your individual needs.

What is an Emergency?

Emergencies are conditions that require immediate attention to avoid pain or damage to the teeth or soft tissues.  Sometimes braces or the wires break.  If the wire is poking, it must be fixed to avoid pain and infection.  This is an emergency.  We have 24-hour emergency service for your comfort.  However, we request you use this service for most severe concerns.  Most often, poking wires can be clipped at home with a wire cutter or toe nail clipper, avoiding having to come to the office in the night time.  If one of the braces comes loose, it does not have to be fixed immediately.  Usually, we can get a patient in for fixing loose braces within 72 hours.  Waiting longer than that for front teeth is not advised.  For back teeth it is acceptable to wait until your next scheduled visit.  If you are uncertain what to do, please call.  We want to help and always have time for questions.

What Foods can I not eat?

If you are prescribed clear aligners, there are no restrictions, except for one.  You may not eat or drink anything but water while the aligners are being worn.  Trying to drink sodas or tea or coffee with aligners can badly damage the teeth.

If you are wearing braces, the rule is this:  If you think something is too chewy or hard, it is.  We have a list of foods to avoid for your consideration.  Sometimes it is not what you eat that can causes breakage, but how you eat it.  Hard or sticky foods do break appliances, so we don’t’ recommend them as breakage of the braces will only prolong your treatment.  If carelessness is a pattern in treatment, then additional costs may be required for repairs.

Do I still need to see my dentist while wearing braces?

If you are an adult, it is very important that you see the dentist or hygienist every 3 months while wearing braces.  There are areas around the braces and reactions to tooth movement that create areas that are hard to clean and require professional help.  Children usually can continue every 6 months unless they are having difficulty with plaque management.  The dentist will determine at that time how often professional maintenance is required.

Do I have to be referred by my dentist to see an orthodontist?

No.  Orthodontists are primary care specialists.  You can make your own appointment at a convenient time for you.  New patient exams by Drs. Gray and Ehrler are comprehensive and include a complimentary 3D scan of the teeth and jaws as a gift from them.

What will I learn from the New Patient Examination?

There are five essential questions to be answered:

  1. What are the orthodontic problems or concerns?
  2. What are the treatment options?
  3. Will any teeth need to be removed?
  4. How long will the treatment take?
  5. How much it will cost?

The examination is comprehensive and will evaluate the health of the teeth and gums, function of the jaw and TMJ’s, airway analysis for disposition to snoring and apnea, any concerns of the referring dentist or patient, and necessity for treatment.  Options and patient preferences will be discussed, including no treatment.

Can my snoring or sleep apnea be treated?

Snoring and sleep apnea are severe medical conditions and are progressive if left untreated.  Snoring and sleep apnea also affects the health of the spouse.  Orthodontic treatment with or without orthognathic surgery are very good at helping to treat or cure either disorder.  Drs. Gray and Ehrler can provide mandibular repositioning medical devices to eliminate snoring and apnea altogether.  This is usually done in collaboration with your medical primary care provider or sleep specialist.  Our doctors have many happy patients and happy spouses because of the way they manage these disorders.

Can orthodontic treatment help my child with snoring or sleep apnea?

Snoring and sleep apnea are conditions of “sleep disturbed breathing”, which causes great harm to the developing child or adolescent.  Premature high blood pressure, progressive weight gain, early onset type-2 diabetes, attention deficit disorder, bet wetting and excess daytime sleepiness are caused by sleep disturbed breathing.  Alteration in the way the child breathes adversely affects the growth pattern of the teeth and jaws, ultimately altering facial balance and TMJ function.  Very early orthopedic expansion as young as age 2-4 years is sometimes necessary to reduce sleep disturbed breathing and is provided in collaboration with the pediatrician.  

What is Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome?

Many orthodontic conditions that are easily identifiable and treated at age 7 years are due to Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS).  UARS is can occur when physical or physiological obstruction of the airway increases the resistance to airflow, resulting in sleep disturbed breathing and postural changes of the head, neck, lower jaw and tongue to make it easier to breathe.  The physiological response to UARS can cause long-term alteration in the growth pattern of the jaws, teeth and TMJ’s.  If left untreated, these conditions lead to significant facial imbalance and altered jaw function as early as age 10 years.  Drs. Gray and Ehrler collaborate with the pediatrician or Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist to resolve the cause of UARS and correct the developmental jaw problems before adolescence in order to avoid more extensive treatment that may include orthognathic surgery.

Will I love Gray and Ehrler Orthodontic Specialists?

YES!  Please read what patients are saying about us at our home page ww.grayandehrlerortho.com and Facebook and Instagram.  Our Mission and Purpose is to change lives.  We take it very seriously, but we are always having fun!