Orthodontist in Boca Raton, FL

Ortho 101

Orthodontics 101

Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics

American Association of Orthodontists boca ratonDid you know that Dr. Pam completed 10 1/2 years of training to become an Orthodontist?

  • College (Pre-Dental)– 4 years
  • Dental School – 4 years
  • Orthodontics Residency – 2 ½ years

After obtaining a degree in general dentistry, an orthodontist must complete a dental residency program for an additional two to three years. An orthodontist is a specialist in diagnosing, preventing and treating malocclusions and facial irregularities. After this comprehensive education and training process, one may call themselves an “Orthodontist” and a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).

Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends an Orthodontic examination by the age of 7?

At this point in your child’s life, the adult first molar has usually erupted into the mouth – the first step in establishing the overall bite.

Some advantages of visiting the orthodontist at this age include:

  1. Evaluation of the bite from side-to-side and front-to-back
  2. Ability to influence jaw growth and promote facial symmetry
  3. Lowered risk of trauma to front teeth that are sticking out
  4. Help stop oral habits (i.e. thumb sucking) that can prevent the teeth from growing in normally
  5. Improve appearance/self-esteem of patients at an influential age
  6. Guide permanent teeth into a better position/maintain necessary space
  7. Reduce length of later treatment once all of the permanent teeth are in

The goal of this early treatment, or “Interceptive Treatment” is to lessen any problems that may exist to allow for normal growth of the jaws and eruption of the teeth.

A malocclusion is a problem with the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. An untreated malocclusion may lead to problems with esthetics, function and overall dental health. Inevitably, our dental health is related to medical health as well.

  • Esthetics: Unbalanced facial appearance
  • Functional: Problems with jaw movements, joint dysfunction (TMJ clicking/popping/pain), difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking
  • Overall Dental Health: higher risk of trauma, periodontal disease (gum disease) or tooth decay
  • Overall Medical Health: Periodontal disease (gum disease) may increase risk of cardiovascular disease.


When teeth are overlapping, they are harder to keep clean – this leads to a build up of plaque and tartar. Over time, harmful bacteria accumulates underneath the gum surface and can cause gum disease, tooth loss, and bone loss. By aligning the teeth and getting rid of the crowding, you are given much better access to clean all surfaces of your teeth. This will improve your overall oral hygiene and dental health – and of course, your smile!

When spaces are present between the teeth, food gets pushed down into the gums. This can cause tenderness or sores of the gum tissue and increase the risk of periodontal disease. The spaces can be closed to allow for proper side-by-side contact of the teeth to properly flush food particles out when you are eating. Closing the spaces will also give you that beautiful smile you always dreamed of!


Deep Bite (“Over-bite”)

In certain cases, the front teeth can erupt too much into the mouth. Basically, there is too much vertical overlap. If the lower teeth are over-erupted, they can cause damage and irritation to the palate tissue just behind the upper from teeth. A deep bite can also be caused by upper teeth that are too far into the mouth. This may cause an excess display of the gums – or a “gummy smile.” Both of these problems can lead to premature wearing down of the front teeth and makes them more prone to fracture and chipping. Orthodontic treatment can put the upper and lower teeth back into a balanced relationship and give you a smile that shows off your upper and lower front teeth.

Open Bite

In an open bite, the front teeth are not in contact. Essentially, there is not enough vertical overlap. This may be caused by habits such as thumb/finger sucking or pushing the tongue forward. The back teeth may experience excess forces and premature wear. By eliminating any habits that may be present and closing down the front teeth, a balanced bite can be established and all of the forces will be distributed between all of the teeth. This will also allow for proper overlap of the front teeth, which is necessary to properly bite and chew your food.


Crossbites are present when the upper teeth are inside or behind the lower teeth. This can be ween in both the front (anterior) and back (posterior) areas of the mouth. Crossbites can cause premature wearing of the teeth and can contribute to periodontal disease, bone loss and eventual tooth loss.


With an anterior crossbites, the upper front teeth are behind the lower front teeth. This may involve one or two teeth or all of the front teeth.


Posterior crossbites are present when the back teeth on the top are inside of the back teeth on the bottom. This can occur on one side (a “unilateral crossbite”) or both sides (a “bilateral crossbite”).

Excess Overjet

Overjet is an extremely common orthodontic problem. The upper front teeth are too far ahead of the lower front teeth. This leaves the upper front teeth un-protected and more prone to chipping or fracture. Trauma to the front teeth can be prevented by bringing them back into contact with the lower front teeth. It also prevents the lower lip from resting or getting caught under the upper front teeth.

Edge-to-Edge Bite

When the teeth are contacting edge-to-edge, there is a lot of force on the tip of the teeth every time they come together. These teeth are more prone to trauma – chipping and breaking. They may also get worn down over time. An edge-to-edge bite may also lead to jaw joint pain.

Other Dental Problems

Impacted Teeth

An impacted tooth is one that does not erupt into the mouth and gets stuck under the gums/inside the bone. There are many reasons why this may happen and the tooth may need some help in order to come into the mouth properly. Exposing and bring in impacted teeth into the mouth is extremely important as it provides you with a tooth that was previously missing in the mouth and also prevents the tooth from causing damage to the teeth next to it. Impacted teeth occur more commonly on the top but can also be seen on the bottom.

Ectopic Eruption

Often times when there is not enough space in the mouth, a tooth may be forced to erupt in a position that is outside of the normal path. This is referred to as “ectopic eruption.” In these cases, adequate space must be obtained in order to place the tooth in the proper position. This will allow for proper function and improved oral hygiene.

Congenitally Missing Teeth

Some patients present with missing adult teeth in their mouth. After an x-ray is taken, it may be revealed that the tooth has never formed and is “congenitally missing.” With orthodontic treatment, the space can either be closed in order to mask the missing tooth or adequate space can be achieved for an appropriate tooth replacement (implant, bridge, etc.)

Contact Dr. Pam today for a free consultation.