We offer full orthodontic treatment for both children and adults.


About 25 percent of all orthodontic treatment performed today is on adult patients.  And chances are that you can benefit from orthodontic treatment, too.


Why Should I have Orthodontics Now?


There are a number of reasons for deciding to have orthodontic treatment as an adult:  Orthodontics can help you enjoy a straighter smile, more even teeth and greater self-confidence in social and business settings.  Other benefits include easier brushing and reduced chances of developing periodontal (gum) disease later on.  You may also notice greater ease in chewing and swallowing.


What Happens At My First Orthodontic Appointment?


First, your teeth, jaws, bite and profile will be evaluated.  Special X-rays, showing your head, face and jaws are taken to help the doctor take specific measurements and plan your treatment.


Impressions are also taken to record the way your teeth and jaws fit together.  Sometimes the doctor takes regular photographs of your face, teeth and profile.  (Often the difference between "before" and "after" is amazing!)  From these diagnostic records the doctor will determine the type of malocclusion (improper bite) you have, as well as any other orthodontic problems.


Types of Malocclusions


There are three types or classes of malocclusions (improper bites), depicted in the pictures below.  Other common orthodontic problems include an open bite, a closed bite, or a cross bite.  These conditions can be corrected to give you a smile that is as functional and esthetic as possible.


How Teeth Are Moved


Your doctor will move your teeth into position using one or more appliances (like braces or retainers).  Braces work by gently applying pressure to your teeth.  This causes bone to be absorbed on one side.


New bone then grows in and slowly hardens on the other side of your teeth, holding teeth in position.


Treatment Considerations


A number of factors will determine the best method of treatment for your individual case.  Your doctor will consider the diagnosis and the amount of time necessary to achieve the desired result.  Here are the most common of treatment considerations and terms you should be familiar with.  Be sure to discuss them with your doctor.


    • Bands are metal braces attached to your teeth.
    • Brackets are often bonded to your teeth, to hold special archwires.
    • Spacers are small pieces of wire or plastic worn between your teeth for a week or two prior to getting your braces.
    • Archwires are threaded through the brackets to connect the teeth in each jaw.
    • Headgear is sometimes prescribed by your orthodontist to help the braces move your teeth.
    • Elastics are tiny rubber bands used to apply pressure to individual teeth, to help them move faster.
    • Retainers are often used to hold your teeth in their correct position after the braces come off.
    • Clear Braces (often called "invisible braces") - for esthetics.


Other Considerations


Proper home care and nutrition are more important than ever in keeping your teeth and gums healthy during orthodontic treatment.  That's because the appliances in your mouth provide extra areas that can easily catch and trap food particles.  Ask your doctor for special tips on how to brush and floss during treatment.  You may also want to consider purchasing an oral irrigation device to help keep your smile sparkling.


It may be necessary to change your eating habits while wearing braces.  Although you can still enjoy most of your favorite foods, there are some you should avoid. These include:  sticky foods (such as taffy, gum and caramels) and crunchy foods (such as popcorn, nuts and corn chips) as they could break your arch wires.  Hard foods are okay, although you should cut them into bite-sized pieces.  (Otherwise they could snap your archwires.)  And sweets should be avoided because they contribute to tooth decay.


Tip:  Even if you can't brush right after eating, rinsing with lots of tepid water will help keep your appliances "squeaky" clean.


A Final Word...


Orthodontics is a personal decision and commitment that will affect the rest of your life.  Be sure to work as a partner with your doctor to get the best possible esthetic result.  You can do this by wearing your removable appliances for the prescribed number of hours, keeping your appointments and by having frequent checkups with your general dentist or periodontist during orthodontic treatment.  Your smile is yours to keep for a lifetime.

HARKINS, HANCOCK & JOHNSTON DENTISTRY  |  11010 QUAKER AVE  |  LUBBOCK, TX 79424  |  (806) 797-6453