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FAQ:  Adult Orthodontics

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Orthodontics Ask The Dentist - Edward Leventhal Question:
I am 28 years old. I have always had a lot of dental problems with my teeth. My mouth is small, and my teeth are crammed together. As an early teen I had about 3 1/2 years of orthodontic work (headgear, braces, and retainers) to straighten my teeth (no teeth removed). However, over the years my teeth have crowded and pushed around in my mouth and a few of my teeth are again crooked.

An even bigger problem is that I have a huge overbite. My teeth only meet in a couple places in my mouth. Because of the way my teeth meet, the back 1/2 of the tooth grinds down about twice as much as the front 1/2 of the tooth... making my teeth form almost a "L" shape. This also causes my dental work to need replacing because of the breakdown. I am very self-conscious of my teeth. Also, I can not bite into most food (it pulls right through the gap in my teeth). Even after braces, the gap was slightly present.

I am also not entirely convinced my tongue does not push against my teeth while I sleep. My teeth tend to be tight together with gaps at the gum (forming pockets for food to catch). This has caused quite a lot of dental work. I have a mouth full of fillings, and two crowns on back molars (one on each side of my mouth). One of my crowns has worn down to the porcelain (the back 1/2 only, of course) and needs to be replaced. I would like to have the gap and crooked teeth corrected. I have been told I will lose my teeth at some point because they will break due to the shape left by my chewing.

I would like to know a) What type of impact would braces cause to my crowns and other dental work? b) How do I know if my teeth are strong enough to handle braces? c) Would braces correct my huge overbite even though they did not the first time? d) How do I know the braces will correct my bite and chewing? e) Is it practical to go to an orthodontist now when I know I will be having some major dental work being done in the next few months? f) What is the best way to find a good orthdontist (new to area)? Thank you for your help. Visitor from TX

I can only recommend that you find an orthodontist that has trained under Dr. Roth - or find an orthodontist who 'mounts' your bite prior to placing braces. It sounds like your lower jaw has a different position when related to your top jaw, and thus your top and lower teeth do not match. Plus, your overbite and major dental work needs to be addressed. If your roots are long, then yes, it is best to seek orthodontic opinions, if more than one.

Edward Leventhal, DDS
Baltimore Cosmetic Implant Dentistry
8860 Belair Road
Baltimore, MD 21236
(410) 256-7300

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