Bierdeman|Vassar OrthodonticsBy JASON W VASSAR DMD,
Special to the Sun
School dances, puppy love, football games, cheer practice…wearing braces. For many middle schoolers, visiting the orthodontist has become a rite of passage. But there’s a lot more to orthodontics than just straight teeth. Now, more than ever before, kids – and adults, too – have a diverse array of modern treatment options to achieve a beautiful smile that encourages confidence, success and a lifetime of good dental health.
More than straight teeth: Age of first visit
When should parents schedule their child’s first orthodontic evaluation? According to Jackson-area orthodontists Dr. Karl Bierdeman and Dr. Jason Vassar, an examination is recommended around age seven. Children usually have their first few permanent molar and front teeth in place by age six. Additionally, children at that age have yet to reach puberty and the growth spurts associated with it.
There are a number of problems related to the eruption of permanent teeth, missing teeth and jaw growth issues that can be more successfully treated at a younger age. According to Dr. Vassar, while many children do not need early treatment, those who do benefit greatly from it. “In some cases early interceptive orthodontic treatment can help avoid more costly surgeries and dental procedures once the child has finished growing and has all their permanent teeth.” “Being able to harness and redirect jaw growth and tooth eruption can be a game-changer,” says Dr. Vassar. Drs. Bierdeman and Vassar, along with many orthodontists, do not charge a fee for initial examination and follow-up pre-treatment visits because of the importance of evaluating and monitoring a child’s teeth and growth.
Although straight teeth and a beautiful smile are almost always the motivating factors for orthodontic treatment, orthodontists also evaluate bite alignment and motion of the jaws to ensure healthy and proper movement and function. Orthodontists have trained an additional two to three years after dental school to comprehensively evaluate patients and develop a treatment plan to achieve a beautiful smile and a functional bite for children, teenagers and adults.
“We treat a wide variety of patients, from those undergoing jaw surgery to those who have crowded, crooked teeth and spacing,” says Dr. Vassar. Each person’s mouth and bite is unique and requires a treatment plan tailored to his or her situation. This plan, Dr. Vassar says, is the most important step in orthodontic treatment. “Once we have developed a treatment plan, we can offer the patient several different options to achieve the desired result as quickly and comfortably as possible.”
Brace yourself: There are more than just metal braces now
Traditional metal braces are still the “workhorse” of orthodontics, but there are a number of different treatment options for the whole family that can achieve great results. Perhaps the most well-known of these alternative treatments is clear aligner therapy, which is often associated with the popular Invisalign brand. With clear aligner systems, orthodontists take a scan or mold of the patient’s teeth and then use computer technology to project how the teeth will move under treatment. Once the plan is finalized, a series of aligners are manufactured and each worn for a few days to weeks at a time to move the teeth.
Tooth-colored braces are another popular alternative offered by Drs. Bierdeman and Vassar. “These products are advanced braces made out of a tooth-colored ceramic material that blends in with the tooth. They have all the same properties of a metal brace, but minimize the overall visibility of the braces.”
Younger patients often like to personalize their braces with fashion brackets available in various shapes and colored elastic bands, as well. No matter which option you choose, Dr. Vassar emphasizes the need for a solid foundation in a treatment plan. “We always begin with the end in mind. We need to know where we are going with the treatment – the different treatment options are the tools to get there.”
Orthodontists offer a variety of treatment options and the depth of training necessary to ensure a beautiful smile and functional, healthy bite tailored to each individual patient. The doctors at Bierdeman|Vassar Orthodontics have more than 30 years of combined experience and offer two locations in Jackson and Ridgeland. Their practice has been serving the metro area for over 50 years. They offer complimentary initial consultations because they value relationships with their patients. “Orthodontic treatment requires multiple visits to our office, and it’s important to us that our patients are comfortable,” says Dr. Bierdeman. “We strive to treat our patients like family and want you to get to know us and our staff prior to starting treatment.”
The gift of a stunning smile and healthy bite can last a lifetime. The doctors at Bierdeman|Vassar Orthodontics offer the treatment options, knowledge and experience necessary to help you and your family achieve this goal in a fun, family environment.