About Orthodontics


The specialty of orthodontics focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of dental and associated facial irregularities. Orthodontic treatment allows us to bring the teeth and jaws into harmony in all three dimensions. The results of orthodontic treatment can be dramatic - beautiful smiles, improved dental health and function, and an enhanced quality of life for people of all ages.

Drs. Edwards and Schaefer follow the recommendation of the American Association of Orthodontics, which recommends an orthodontic screening for each child around the age of seven or about the time of the eruption of the upper permanent front teeth. This permits the identification of any developing problems as well as the initiation of any indicated interceptive treatment. Early treatment, when indicated, can be extremely valuable in preventing future problems in dental or jaw development. In the majority of cases, treatment will not begin until age 10-12. Even if no treatment is recommended at the first appointment, the information from the x-ray and exam are valuable for assessing growth and development at future appointments.

The most profound treatment results come from the correction of growth imbalances. This is one of the reasons that it is most beneficial to screen for problems around the age of seven - while there is still significant facial growth remaining.

Adults can be treated at any age. It is never too late to enjoy the benefits of a beautiful smile. Some adults have missing teeth which may cause abnormal movement of the remaining teeth. Some may have had braces earlier in life, but teeth have shifted out of their original position. Many adults never had orthodontic treatment, and could benefit greatly from a beautiful, healthy smile.

The Edwards and Schaefer Orthodontic Team enjoys treating patients of all ages: children, adolescents, and adults. We are happy to provide a comprehensive initial consultation at no charge.


How do Braces Work?

Braces use gentle, constant pressure to move teeth into their proper positions slowly, over time. Since they are fixed to the teeth, they work around the clock, including during sleep. Although there are many "parts" to braces, the two most important elements are the brackets that are attached to each tooth, and the archwire that connects each bracket.

colored bandsThe bracket is a piece of shaped metal or ceramic that is affixed to each tooth. It serves as the "handle" that allows us to grab onto and control the movement of each tooth, individually. A band is a bracket for a molar or back tooth. It fits around the entire tooth. The archwire is a special U-shaped metallic alloy that is customized to allow proper straightening and movement of the teeth. During appointments, it is usually changed or adjusted according to each patient's individual needs. The archwire is held onto the bracket with either an elastic ligature (or o-ring), which come in a variety of colors, or a metal ligature tie.

colored bandsThe wire threads through the brackets and, as the wire tries to return to its original shape, it applies pressure to move your teeth. Since during orthodontics, teeth are actually moved through bone, all movement does not occur overnight. Depending on the type of adjustments made, teeth usually move between 1 and 2 millimeters each month. Dr. Edwards and Dr. Schaefer uses only the latest and most modern orthodontic technologies, ensuring that their patients receive the most comfortable, and efficient treatment.

Are their different kinds of braces?

about bracesDuring certain phases of treatment, patients may be asked to wear elastics. These small rubber bands attach to hooks on certain teeth and exert a force that creates just the right amount of pressure to move teeth in specific ways. In order for this force to remain constant, elastics must be worn as directed and changed every day.

about bracesThere are many options available in modern orthodontics. Metallic braces are the most familiar type. They are most often recommended for more comprehensive treatment in adolescents. They are held on to teeth with a specially formulated dental adhesive. Ceramic "tooth-colored" or clear brackets bond onto the outside surfaces of your teeth, similar to conventional braces. Their clear or natural color gives them a less noticeable, "camouflaged" look.


Dr. Edwards and Schaefer offer comprehensive orthodontic treatment without braces, too! They are specially trained and certified in Invisalign® which is the "invisible way to straighten your teeth without braces."

Invisalign® is a state-of-the-art alternative to braces that is virtually undetectable to other people. A series of clear removable aligners are used to straighten your teeth without metal wires or brackets. The aligners are made through a combination of our doctor’s expertise and 3-D computer imaging technology.

Once Dr. Edwards or Schaefer has determined that Invisalign® is the proper treatment for you, precise treatment instructions, along with a set of impressions, are sent to Invisalign®. Invisalign® uses advanced computer technology to translate these instructions into a sequence of finely calibrated aligners. The number of aligners you will need to wear varies on an individual basis. You'll wear each aligner for about two weeks and only take it out for eating, brushing and flossing. As you replace each aligner with the next, your teeth will move - gradually - week by week, until they move into the final alignment prescribed by the doctor. Then you'll have the smile you have always dreamed of!

To determine if Invisalign® can help you get the smile you've always wanted, call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Edwards or Schaefer. In the meantime, please feel free to visit www.invisalign.com to learn more about Invisalign®, and be sure to ask during your consultation whether Invisalign® is right for you!


crowdingCrowding of the teeth is the most common problem associated with the need for orthodontic treatment. Many factors contribute to dental crowding. The most common reason for crowding is a discrepancy between the space available in each jaw and the size of the teeth. Crowding can lead to impacted teeth, a "bad bite", and an unesthetic appearance.
spacingSpaces between teeth are another common problem associated with the need for orthodontic treatment. Like crowding, spacing is also often caused by a discrepancy between the space available in each jaw and the size of the teeth. Spacing can also arise from teeth that are missing or are smaller than normal.
overjetOverjet is defined as the horizontal protrusion of the upper teeth in front of the lower teeth. Overjet is often seen with a Class II malocclusion, which occurs when the top jaw is located ahead of the bottom jaw (due to a large top jaw, a small bottom jaw, or a combination of the two). Thumb and finger sucking habits can also cause excessive overjet.
overbiteOverbite is defined as the vertical overlapping of the upper teeth over the lower teeth. A deep overbite (or deep bite) occurs when the upper front teeth completely (or mostly) cover the lower front teeth. Often, this causes the lower front teeth to bite on the gums behind the upper front teeth, causing damage to the gum tissue and underlying bone.
openbiteAn openbite is defined as a lack of vertical overlap of the incisor (front) teeth. It results when the upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting down. An openbite can be caused by abnormal growth of one of both jaws or it can be caused by a thumb or finger sucking habit. In some instances, a tongue thrust (which occurs when the tongue moves between the front teeth during swallowing) may also be a contributing factor to an openbite. When biting down, the space between the upper and lower front teeth causes excessive pressure on the back teeth. Over time, this excessive pressure can cause abnormal tooth wear on the back teeth, or problems with the gums and bone surrounding the back teeth.
underbiteAn underbite occurs when the lower front teeth protrude in front of the upper front teeth. It is often seen with a Class III malocclusion, where there is a large lower jaw, a small upper jaw, or a combination of the two. An underbite is also known as an anterior crossbite.
crossbiteA crossbite occurs when the top teeth fit inside of the bottom teeth. In a normal jaw relationship, the top teeth should be located outside of the bottom teeth. A crossbite can occur with the front teeth (anterior crossbite) or with the back teeth (posterior crossbite). Posterior crossbites usually result from a narrow or constricted upper jaw. Crossbites can cause problems with biting and chewing.

Corrective Jaw Surgery
The vast majority of orthodontic patients can be treated with braces alone. Occasionally, however, patients may benefit from additional treatment, including a surgical approach. Corrective jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) treats and corrects abnormalities of the facial bones, including the jaws. Often, these abnormalities cause difficulty associated with chewing, talking, sleeping and other routine activities. Orthognathic surgery corrects these problems and, in conjunction with orthodontic treatment, will improve the overall appearance of the facial profile. State-of-the-art materials such as titanium plates and miniature screws provide stability, strength, and predictability to your treatment. These advances in technology, procedures, and equipment reduce post-surgical recovery time, thus allowing patients to return to their normal routines soon after the surgery.


When is the best time to begin orthodontics? Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation? Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.

Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening? By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.

Are their advantages of interceptive treatment? Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:

  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time with braces