I Want a Perfect Smile

Perfect Smile
Sarah, the patient
Dear Dr. S.,

I’m thinking of getting braces. I’m 43, so I’ve waiting a long time to have a more beautiful smile. How can I guarantee my smile will be perfect when my braces are removed?

Sincerely,
Maggie R.

Dr. Michael Stosich

Dear Maggie,
First of all, congratulations on your decision to not just better your smile, but better your oral health, too. A straighter smile isn’t only prettier to look at, it will ensure better oral health for years to come.

When you say you want a perfect smile when your braces come off, it’s important to define what you mean by perfect. To you, it may just simply mean a smile that looks straight. But to your orthodontist, it means much more.

A perfect smile is one that isn’t just beautiful, but one that functions properly, too. That means your teeth move into the proper positions to give you an ideal bite – one that fits together in a way that minimizes wear and tear both on your teeth and your jaw.

To achieve that, you need the skill of a well-trained orthodontist. My best advice to you to guarantee a great smile after treatment is to choose the right orthodontist. And yes, you need to have your teeth straightened by a certified orthodontist. Your dentist may be wonderful, and offer straightening options in his or her office, but only an experienced orthodontist will have the knowledge and skill you need to give you that ideal smile.

While every orthodontist is also a dentist, not every dentist is an orthodontist
. After dental school, an orthodontist dedicates several more years to additional schooling and training to learn exactly how the teeth, jaws and tissues of the mouth work together to create a harmonious bite. If you want a great smile, do your research and work with the right orthodontist.
Sincerely,
Dr. S.


Peter, the patient
Dear Dr. S.,
I just met with an orthodontist about wearing braces. He said I play a big role in making sure my teeth look great after my braces come off, but shouldn’t the braces (and the orthodontist) be doing all the work?
Sincerely,
Kyle P.
Dr. Michael Stosich
Dear Kyle,
Your orthodontist is exactly right – you play a very important role in your orthodontic treatment. Braces and a well-trained orthodontist can do wonders, but you also have to play an active role in your treatment.

First, you have to be committed to following care guidelines as given to you by your orthodontist and his team. To achieve the best smile after your braces come off, you may need to wear attachments, such as rubber bands, during your treatment. It’s important that you wear them exactly as prescribed by your orthodontist so that your teeth can move properly. Forgetting to follow your orthodontist’s instructions can set your treatment back.

Braces can also become damaged during your treatment. Brackets can fall off, wires can become loose, etc. If this happens, it’s important to get the issue corrected as soon as possible to make sure your braces can work properly.

It’s also important to properly care for your teeth. What good is braces treatment if you forget to brush, floss and visit your dentist? Straight teeth won’t be as appealing if they aren’t also healthy, so make sure you brush and floss properly.

It’s also important to remember that your orthodontic treatment doesn’t end the day your braces come off. To keep those teeth in their new positions, you need to wear your retainer as prescribed. If you don’t, your teeth may just relapse and all that hard work will be for nothing.

To ensure a great smile when treatment is finished, you should work hand in hand with your orthodontic team.
Sincerely,
Dr. S

AUTHOR: Michael Stosich

Michael S. Stosich, DMD, MS, MS, is a specialist orthodontist for children and adults with subspecialty expertise in robotically assisted orthodontics. Dr. Stosich serves as the orthodontic director at the University of Chicago's cleft lip and palate clinic and craniofacial anomalies clinic, which treats complex pediatric craniofacial anomalies.