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Orthodontics is a way to move your teeth or jaws into a more healthy position. This can not only improve your smile, but make it easier to breathe, speak or chew food. From your tooth’s perspective, braces and Invisalign® are just different ways to push your teeth into the right spot, and work essentially the same. The experience of having each, however, can be different.


Your mouth is complicated, with lots of moving parts attached to bones, muscles and nerves. For this reason, it is very important to see an orthodontist for treatment if you have a bite or jaw problem. For children, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends taking your child for an initial examination at age seven. No referral is needed!



At your first visit the doctor will examine your face, teeth and jaws. Dr. Solem will go over when and if you need treatment, and discuss some of the approaches for addressing your problem. We will take some photos of your teeth, an orthodontic X-ray and a digital scan (no messy impressions!). Based on these records, Dr. Solem will come up with a plan for your treatment.



Orthodontic Examination

A complete review of jaw and bite relationships, jaw growth patterns, joint function, breathing and airway will be conducted. If indicated, X-rays will be taken to review the development and health of the teeth and bones of the face and head. 


Two-Phase Treatment

Orthodontists recommend an initial examination starting at age 7-8 to screen for developing problems of erupting teeth, crossbites, and other potential conditions that could become worse over time. While most younger children do not need orthodontic treatment, there are some conditions which can benefit from early treatment. 


Comprehensive Treatment (Braces/Invisalign)

Most common treatments involve straightening all of your teeth using conventional brackets and wires, or plastic aligners (Invisalign™). Depending on your particular bite and preference, either treatment may be applicable. We also have options with clear and gold braces. These treatments, or a combination of them, can fix most types of crowding, underbite and overbite.



Dental crowding is one of the most common orthodontic problems. Oftentimes, this is related to an underlying mismatch between the size of the upper and lower jaw. In addition to crowding, this can lead to problems such as a crossbite, or a shifting bite. Fortunately, these problems can be addressed by increasing the size of the upper jaw with a palatal expander. This is usually done in the first phase of treatment when the child is between the ages of 8-11 years old.


Digital Impressions

Many adults who have been to the orthodontist remember messy, unpleasant impressions. With new laser-based digital imaging technology, we scan your teeth to take a digital impression. This is not only more comfortable, but also more accurate as it is less subject to distortion. With digital impressions, the appliances we make for your mouth (retainers, expanders) also fit better.


Surgical Orthodontics

In some cases, your jaws may not be of the same size, or may be asymmetric. This can lead to health problems, such as jaw pain, breathing, or problems chewing. To correct severe jaw problems, the orthodontist will work together with an oral surgeon to correct both your jaws and teeth.


Cleft Lip/Palate

Fortunately, nearly all types of cleft lip and palate can be repaired by doctors. Most often orthodontic treatment is required to help the other doctors complete surgeries, and to move the teeth into the correct position. Also, upper front teeth are commonly missing, and the teeth frequently need to be shifted into the correct location.



Braces have evolved from what you might have experienced in the past. The wires are made of special flexible materials (designed from space antennas!) that do not cause as much pain as before. In order to put the braces on, we first isolate the area with some cheek retractors, and then apply a primer that allows our glue to stick. This glue (a composite) is applied to the braces and Dr. Solem aligns them in just the right spot. We then shine a special light on your teeth to cure the glue and bond the braces to your teeth. After that, a certain wire is placed in the braces, and we place small colored rubber bands to hold the wire to your braces! The first time your wire is placed, you will feels some pressure and discomfort for a few days. This is usually quite mild.


Aligners, like Invisalign®, all work by covering your teeth and pushing on them. A clear tray is made from a computer scan of your teeth. Dr. Solem programs the tooth movements into the computer to sequence out how your teeth are moved. You will get a set of aligners that are worn at 1-2 week intervals. Just like with braces, the teeth are slowly pushed into the correct place. Similarly, the teeth can be a little bit sore when a new aligner is worn as the teeth shift into the new position. Also, like braces, you will need to have small transparent squares (attachments) glued to some teeth in order for them to move effectively.

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