Orthodontics treatment is much more complex, different and difficult than what many young patients assume. A doctor dedicated to his or her craft puts much education, study and experience into each orthodontic case he or she treats.
Dr. Chris Baker's book, "Your Child's Smile" is the best parent guide for their child's oral health. It has also been used as a dental school textbook.
Orthodontics is the practice of the realities of moving teeth through bone over a period of time.
This past week, we had two high school students who are interested in dentistry spend the days with us in internships. They came in each morning and would spend about half of our office hours with us.
The students encountered orthodontics from a totally different perspective than what they experienced when they were our patients. They both agreed, very surely, that orthodontic treatment seemed much more complex, different and difficult than they had assumed when they were patients.
Isn’t that the way life works?
Perception varies according to the view through which we see it. It’s like looking into a room from a window on one side and seeing one part of the room -- and then from the other side, the view through a different window makes the room seem totally different.
What we regard is often limited by what we know and see.
To a teenager having braces treatment, the experience is one without much visual awareness of what is being done with those braces. While they're sitting in the dental chair, their minds are full of schoolwork, classmate matters, family matters, athletic and other activities of that evening, and so on.
The patient's awareness of what we are doing with the “hardware” of orthodontic appliances is minimal. Once the appointment is completed, they can “get back” to their “real life.”
But seeing us work with the realities of moving teeth through hard, mineralized bone was a different matter for our high school interns.
Think of a bone. It is miraculous that by placing the right force in the right direction on teeth, we can move teeth through that seemingly impenetrable, dense structure.
And, amazingly, the bone restructures and remodels itself to complete its presence around the tooth in the new position.
Our interns learned that we cannot move one tooth without anchoring somewhere, somehow to other teeth. They found out that it is a challenging, mechanical, engineering process to accomplish a bite that will work and last for almost a hundred years, and provide a smile that will charm, comfort, engage, and communicate the soul within.
Our interns were impressed with the time the human body requires to allow teeth to move, and to remodel the bone -- and why it takes the time. The human body is dynamic - always changing. It is not static - staying the same.
Orthodontic changes are not guaranteed; they are not totally predictable; they are not stable over time without retention, because of the dynamic properties of the muscles, speech, habits, tongue position, tooth clenching or grinding, eating, biting, opening, closing and even wear of the teeth.
Plus, a growing patient adds the challenge of growth changes to what we are working to do for them.
We were glad to share with two young people who wanted to understand more about what dental care can offer to each person.
We look forward to their joining the professionals who provide that care.
Dr Chris Baker
Dr. Chris Baker is Past President of the American Orthodontic Society, a pediatric dentist and teacher of orthodontics, An author, dental practice consultant, mentor, and a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools, Dr Chris practices and blogs in beautiful Abu Dhabi, UAE, and glorious Texas, USA.
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© 2019 Dr Chris Baker