What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The practice of orthodontics requires knowledge in the design, application and control of corrective devices, such as braces or other appliances, to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to achieve facial balance.

When is a good age to see the Orthodontist?

If you are interested in improving your smile or correcting the fit of your bite, than any age is a great age to see the orthodontist. Because many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist by the age of 7, or earlier if a problem is detected by parents or the family dentist. However, as almost 25% of Dr. Burkey’s patients are over the age of 21, more and more adults are taking advantage of orthodontic treatment.

What is the difference between an orthodontist and a family dentist?

Orthodontists are dental specialists who, in addition to receiving a dental degree, must have at least two continuous years of advanced study in orthodontics as required by the American Dental Association. Only those who complete such a program are eligible to belong to the American Association of Orthodontists. In the state of Illinois, an orthodontist must also pass an additional board examination to be licensed as an orthodontic specialist.

Should I see my family dentist while I have braces?

Yes, absolutely! You should continue to see your general dentist at least every six months for cleanings and dental checkups. Some patients can benefit from seeing their dentist 3 or 4 times a year while wearing braces. Please follow your family dentist’s recommendations.

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

  • A more attractive smile
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Possible increase in self-confidence
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long-term health of teeth and gums
  • Permanent teeth guided into more favorable positions
  • Reduced risk of injury to protruding front teeth
  • Aid in optimizing other dental treatments

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth or are bucked (large overjet)
  • Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep overbite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • Upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (openbite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • Primary or baby teeth that will not come out
  • Finger or thumb-sucking habits that continue beyond the age of 6
  • Missing adult teeth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth
  • The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up

What causes crooked teeth?

The main cause is heredity or genetics. Other contributing factors are thumb or finger sucking, gum disease, trauma (accidents), or baby teeth that are lost too early.

What is Phase-One and Phase-Two treatment?

Phase-One, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (for example, an expander or partial braces) before all the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment may occur between the ages of 6 and 10. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, improve growth patterns of the jaws, for correction of crossbites and underbites, or to help lessen the damage to erupting teeth and to eliminate harmful oral habits. Phase-Two treatment is also called comprehensive treatment because it involves full braces when all the permanent teeth have erupted, which is often started between the ages of 11 and 13.


Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. In fact, 20 to 25 percent of orthodontic patients today are adults. Clear (ceramic) braces, Lingual (behind the teeth) braces, as well as Invisalign therapy make adult orthodontic treatment more attractive than ever before. Dr. Burkey has treated adults of all ages, even into their 70’s

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces use gentle, steady pressure to move teeth gradually into their proper positions. The two main components are the brackets (or bands) that are bonded or cemented to the teeth and the archwire that connects them together. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape and applies pressure causing the teeth to move. Elastic rubber bands that are attached to the brackets also help move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is one to two years. Advances in technology such as SureSmile® have dramatically reduced traditional treatment times. Actual treatment length can be affected by the rate of growth and amount of the necessary correction. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

Do braces hurt?

The actual placement of bands and brackets on the teeth is usually pretty comfortable. Once the braces are placed and connected with the archwires, the teeth begin to move. Some soreness is then felt, generally for one to four days. Over the counter medicine like Motrin or Tylenol can be taken if needed. Your lips and cheeks may also need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth. Placing wax over the brackets helps in getting used to them.

Will I still be able to play sports while wearing braces?

Yes. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their teeth & lips by wearing a mouthguard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouthguards are comfortable and come in an exciting variety of colors. We offer mouthguards free of charge to our patients.

May I still play a musical instrument while wearing braces?

Yes, absolutely! However, there will be an initial period of adjustment, as the braces do tend to irritate the lips at first. We provide clear vinyl covers (called Morgan Bumpers) that go over the brackets to help make the lips more comfortable. We provide these free of charge. Just let us know if you or your child is a musician.

What infection control and sterilization procedures do you follow?

At Dr. Burkey’s office, we are committed to providing a safe environment for orthodontic health care.

  • All treatment surfaces such as counter tops, chair surfaces, lights, x-ray machines, trays, etc. are disinfected between every patient with the most effective and safest products available.
  • All handpieces and other applicable instruments are sterilized by autoclave or dry heat sterilization before use on any patient.
  • The sterilizers at Dr. Burkey’s office are monitored weekly with sterilization test strips. These test strips are processed by the University of Louisville to insure the effectiveness and safety of our sterilization.
  • Headrest covers on our treatment chairs are changed between every patient.
  • All clinical staff members at Dr. Burkey’s office are trained in proper infection control and asepsis.
  • A waste disposal company properly discards all medical waste. Our office is very conscientious about this issue in order to further protect the public and our community.