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What Is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the field of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities, such as misalignment and malocclusion (bad bite). Orthodontic treatment can enhance both the appearance and the function of your mouth. At Scripps Center for Dental Care, we utilize some of the most advanced techniques and technologies available to help you achieve an optimal outcome, including digital scanning of your teeth and digital simulation of your treatment options, allowing you to see firsthand the potential outcomes. Concerns associated with misaligned teeth can become more advanced when left untreated, making eating, chewing, and speaking more difficult and potentially leading to excessive tooth wear and jaw joint problems. Our San Diego orthodontist offers a comprehensive array of teeth-straightening options, including Invisalign®, traditional and clear braces, lingual braces, and more. If the time of orthodontic treatment is a concern, speak with our orthodontic team about Accelodent®, the latest adjunctive therapy to orthodontics that can reduce treatment time by up to 50%. We customize your treatment plan based on your stage of life, anatomic needs, and cosmetic goals.

How Do Braces Work?

Whether your braces are made of metal archwires or clear aligner trays, these orthodontic devices are designed to remodel your bite by gently applying pressure to your teeth and gums over an extended period of time. As metal or clear braces exert force, the positioning of your teeth begins to shift within the periodontal membrane—the layer of tissue that connects your teeth to the alveolar bone. Over time, your jaw shape gradually conforms to this pressure. This allows orthodontists to correct underbites, overbites, cross bites, and open bites while straightening crookedness and restoring proper jaw alignment. While guiding teeth into a better alignment used to require obtrusive archwires and brackets, many patients can now complete their orthodontic treatment using more comfortable and discreet cosmetic dentistry materials, such as clear thermoplastic aligners. 

Family Orthodontics

Our practice is committed to delivering exceptional orthodontic care to the whole family, and we provide leading treatment for all age groups, from the first childhood visit through adolescence and adulthood. We believe in a compassionate, conservative approach that makes our patients feel comfortable visiting and eager to improve the function of their teeth and the beauty of their smiles. Achieving excellent oral health is a journey, not a destination, and we want to build a relationship with each of our patients that can last their entire lifetime. Below is some additional information about the different techniques used for each stage of life. For additional questions, please contact our practice.


Adult Orthodontics

If you never had the opportunity to straighten your teeth when you were younger, adult orthodontics can help you achieve the smile you’ve always desired. Persistent issues stemming from bite misalignment (such as overbite or underbite) or crowded teeth can be fixed using modalities designed with your needs in mind. Many of the same orthodontic techniques we utilize for our younger patients can be modified to gently and effectively adjust your teeth and jaw. Innovations in orthodontic devices also make wearing braces more discreet and comfortable than ever before.

Child Orthodontics

By the age of about seven, the molars and permanent incisors should be visible above the gum line. At this point, we can evaluate the oral structures for signs of misalignment or missing teeth and determine if early treatment may be beneficial. If not, we will recommend when to return for a follow-up assessment. Not all children will require correction; however, those that do should be treated on a schedule that can optimize the results. Your children’s comfort and care are our foremost concerns, and we will endeavor to make their experience as pleasant as possible.

Phased Orthodontics

Phased orthodontic treatment, also called two-phase treatment, addresses developing concerns early on and then refines the bite alignment at a later date. The initial phase can gently adjust the position of the teeth and other oral structures, working with the jaw during the years of rapid growth. After the early phase, a period of rest follows. The second phase can begin when the majority of the adult teeth have erupted. This approach can enhance your child’s comfort, reduce the need to remove teeth, and maximize results.

Adolescent Orthodontics

The most common age group for braces will be pre-teens and teens. During this period most, if not all the adult teeth, have erupted. Addressing misalignment issues while the jaw is still growing can make correction easier and more comfortable. In addition to straighter teeth, adolescent orthodontics can improve occlusion (how your child’s upper and lower teeth come together). This is important for eating, speaking, and other oral functions. Furthermore, if your teen has crowded teeth that are difficult to brush and floss thoroughly, orthodontics can make oral hygiene habits more effective by enhancing access to all areas of the teeth. In addition to Invisalign®, one of the most popular teeth straightening options available, we offer a comprehensive selection of orthodontic appliances to suit the needs and goals of each patient.


Once your braces are removed, your teeth may need some time to finish settling into their permanent positions. Retainers often will be used to transition your teeth away from the previous appliances, depending on your unique treatment plan and needs. You should follow all instructions for wearing retainers and caring for your teeth to ensure the best possible results. In the event a relapse occurs, we can help you restore the initial outcome, typically with retainer adjustments or brief treatment depending on the extent of relapse.

What Are My Orthodontic Treatment Options?

We offer a comprehensive selection of orthodontic treatment options, from innovative metal-free aligners to traditional braces. During your initial consultation, we will evaluate your oral structures, discuss your concerns and preferences, and guide you through the best methods for your needs and goals. Some of the procedures we offer include:


Scripps Center for Dental Care offers Invisalign® invisible braces to individuals who want to straighten their teeth. With Invisalign®, patients wear a series of clear plastic aligners instead of traditional metal braces. Visit our comprehensive page on Invisalign® to learn more about this treatment option.

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Traditional Braces

In addition to Invisalign® clear aligners, we also offer traditional braces. This technique involves attaching brackets to the teeth that hold a metal wire that gently directs teeth into position. Invisible braces and lingual braces (wherein the brackets are placed on the back of the teeth) are more discreet options that may be more ideal for certain individuals. During your initial consultation, we will work with you to determine the right approach for your needs, goals, and lifestyle.

I got my braces here. Having braces on is not the best feeling but the doctors and nurses here will try their best to minimize the pain for you. They are also extremely friendly and really do care about you. The braces aren’t cheap but I have to say the service they offer and the top quality work they provide, it definitely worth every penny. I would give more than 5 stars if i could.

Yi Kao

May 04, 2018


Additional Orthodontic Services

Our services go well beyond typical orthodontic treatments like metal braces and Invisalign®. We also offer advanced solutions for a number of concerns, including pre- and post-surgical care, re-treatment for adult crowding, and placement of temporary anchorage devices. Bite diagnosis and correction is an integral part of the orthodontic process to ensure that patients finish treatment with the optimal outcome. We also offer ceramic and self-ligating braces as additional options for patients interested in alternatives to metal braces and Invisalign®. We will be happy to go over all of your choices at your initial visit.

When is the right time for an orthodontic consultation?

Almost any time can be the right time for an orthodontic evaluation. While straighter teeth are considered aesthetically appealing, there are also functional benefits to this procedure. Concerns due to malocclusion (bite misalignment) and problems brushing or flossing due to crowded teeth are common. Ideal orthodontic treatment can address all of these conditions simultaneously, combining function and aesthetics in one and promoting long-term health. We recommend children come in for an assessment beginning around age seven. Early diagnosis and treatment of developing issues can make the process easier and the results more successful. Teens and adults who have most or all of their adult teeth can also benefit from orthodontics, and there is no upper age limit for braces. Your needs and goals are unique, and we will create a personalized plan that can optimize your outcome.

How Do I Choose The Right Orthodontist?

It’s important to choose an orthodontist who is skilled and whom you trust. You will likely be seeing this doctor regularly for the next few years or longer, so taking the time to select someone with the education and demeanor to give you the experience you want is essential. We recommend reviewing a prospective orthodontist’s educational background, advanced training, and professional memberships. We also advise patients to only consider board certified orthodontists, as they have the experience and training to provide an exceptional outcome. Patient reviews and a before-and-after gallery can give you additional information about what to expect from treatment, and the initial consultation offers another avenue to have questions answered and get a feel for the doctor. We want you to be comfortable and excited about enhancing your smile, and we are happy to answer questions, address concerns, and discuss your treatment plan to your satisfaction.

Check Out Our Smile Gallery

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Additional FAQs About Orthodontic Treatment

How long will orthodontic treatment take?

The total length of your treatment time varies based on the state of your bite and the extent of work to be completed. On average, patients are able to straighten their teeth and bite in approximately 12 months. Some individuals are able to correct their concerns in as little as six months, but our orthodontist notes that a treatment plan lasting 9 to 15 months is common. In general, correcting a poor bite usually takes longer when compared to addressing crowded teeth or other more minor orthodontic issues. 

Do braces hurt?

There is typically a period of adjustment when you first start wearing your braces or aligners as you get used to the gentle pressure being exerted on your teeth and gums; however, most patients report mild discomfort rather than pain. This should subside as you become more accustomed to treatment. Invisalign® aligners are often considered more comfortable than traditional braces overall, as there is no risk of wires and brackets irritating the gum tissue.   

How do I floss with braces?

If you have metal braces, our orthodontist will provide a special threading device that will allow you to easily navigate around the wires and floss between your teeth. Patients undergoing treatment with Invisalign® can simply remove their aligners and floss their teeth as they would normally. 

Will I need headgear or a retainer?

Headgear is only necessary in select cases, typically for children who are still growing and who have a severely misaligned bite. However, all orthodontic patients—both children and adults—will need to wear a retainer after completing treatment to preserve their results and keep the teeth properly aligned. Failing to wear your retainers runs the risk of your teeth eventually relapsing into misalignment, potentially warranting further orthodontic work in the future. That said, most patients only need to wear their retainers at night. 

Can DIY braces work?

Straightening your teeth through orthodontics is a complex process that involves the remodeling of your jaw shape; therefore, it requires the direct care and experience of a qualified orthodontist. While mail-to-order and DIY braces claim to be as effective as professional treatment, these methods lack the supervision and control afforded by in-office treatment. As a result, DIY braces can be ineffective at best and pose a danger to your oral health at worst. 

Orthodontics can be completely customized to suit your individual anatomic needs and desired outcome. For more information about teeth straightening, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.

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