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One of the qualities that defines a healthy smile is properly-aligned teeth that are free from crowding or other spacing issues. Orthodontic care plays an important role in maintaining the oral (and general) health of both children and adults, and it should be an integral consideration of any dental healthcare plan. However, many general dental offices end up referring patients out to other practices when it comes time to seek orthodontic treatments.

At Delaware Smile Center, we do things differently. We are the only general dentistry practice in Middletown, Delaware, that has an orthodontist right here in our office! This means that both adults and children can receive high-quality dental and orthodontic care in the same place, providing a convenient, streamlined process for you and your family.

Our in-house orthodontist, Dr. Sophia Usmani, is a gentle, talented, and experienced dental care provider who can help treat the full spectrum of orthodontic concerns, ranging from the simple to the complex. She works closely with the other providers at Delaware Smile Center so that you can receive all of your dental care under the same roof.

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Why Does Orthodontic Care Matter?

For many people, the concept of orthodontic treatment conjures images of awkward adolescents and mouths full of braces. As a result, many adults (and even teens) choose to forego orthodontic treatment entirely. Some people even assume that it is too late to receive orthodontic treatment once they reach a certain age. However, the truth is that orthodontic care can happen (and should happen!) at any age at which it becomes necessary. Even if you never needed braces as a child, your teeth may shift as you grow older, and you may find yourself in need of orthodontic treatment. Here at Delaware Smile Center, our skilled orthodontist offers an array of treatment options designed to suit the needs of both adults and children. She will work closely with you in order to design a treatment plan that suits your lifestyle while still addressing your alignment concerns and protecting your long-term health.

So, why does orthodontic care matter? Crooked teeth are actually a big deal. While most people are concerned about the alignment of their teeth from a purely cosmetic standpoint, crooked and misaligned teeth can also create a number of problems that can have a significant impact on your dental and overall health.

When your teeth are turned or not placed correctly, they are difficult to clean properly. Crooked teeth can make it challenging for you to reach all the surfaces of your teeth with your toothbrush, which can lead to cavities and decay. Crowded teeth make it difficult to floss with good technique, increasing your risk for periodontal disease and other gum-related problems. Conversely, teeth that are spaced too far apart create gaps that food can get stuck in and which can be difficult to clean. When food gets stuck in these gaps, bacteria and acid can grow, potentially contributing to bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. Gum disease and other oral problems have been linked to serious health conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetes, and reproductive difficulties. The health of your gums and teeth is closely related to your overall health, so it is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits and address any orthodontic concerns that may prevent you from properly cleaning and caring for your mouth.

Additionally, if your teeth are misaligned or you have an overbite, underbite, or crossbite, pressure is being put on your teeth in ways they aren’t designed to accommodate. This can lead to tooth pain, jaw pain, tooth chipping and/or cracking, and loose teeth. Eventually, your teeth may break or come loose entirely, oftentimes resulting in the need for tooth replacement options such as dental implants.

“Dr. Sophie is amazing and so is the entire staff at DE Smile Center! Dr. Sophie is calm, caring, knowledgeable, professional, and patient. She takes the time to answer all my questions and never rushes us through a visit. My child used to cry the whole drive to our last orthodontist, but not now! Two of my kids are current orthodontic patients and the last will be when old enough. One of my kids has a disability and they treat my child just as they do everyone else - never condescending, intolerant, or ignorant!” - Luke H.

Traditional Braces

When most people think of orthodontic treatments, their first thought is probably of traditional braces, and for good reason: this method of tooth alignment can be used to address a variety of orthodontic concerns, ranging from mild to complex. Braces take the form of small brackets that are attached to the teeth and bound by a system of wires and bands. As the bands are tightened over time, they exert gentle, continuous pressure on the teeth, ultimately shifting them into proper alignment. You will visit your orthodontist for periodic adjustments to ensure that your teeth continue shifting into the desired formation. At Delaware Smile Center, we offer several different types of braces, including metal braces, tooth-colored ceramic braces, and lingual braces (where the brackets are placed behind the teeth instead of in front). Dr. Usmani will work with you to determine which type of braces are best suited to your orthodontic needs and aesthetic preferences.

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Invisalign® is an increasingly popular orthodontic treatment that employs the use of clear, plastic aligners in order to comfortably and gently shift teeth into the desired position. Since the aligners are both visually discreet and removable, many patients find them to be a more convenient, functional, and aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional braces. However, compliance is important when it comes to achieving optimal results: The aligners are designed to be worn for 20-22 hours a day, and they should generally only be removed at mealtimes or during routine dental maintenance, such as brushing and flossing. Dr. Usmani is a certified Invisalign® and Invisalign Teen®  provider, and she is happy to consult with you in order to decide whether this revolutionary clear aligner system is an appropriate orthodontic option for you or your child.

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Surgical Orthodontics

Sometimes, patients come to us with more complex bite issues that require both orthodontic and surgical intervention. These cases typically involve skeletal abnormalities or misalignments relating to the jawbone, which can negatively impact your ability to bite, chew, speak, and even breathe properly. Corrective jaw surgery (also called orthognathic surgery) is designed to address these issues, and, in conjunction with orthodontic treatments, it can help align your bite and give you the healthy, functional, and beautiful smile you desire. It is important to remember that this type of treatment is oriented towards adults, as the jaw must be done growing and fully fused prior to undergoing surgery.

Issues that may require orthodontic surgery to address include:

  • Severe overbite or underbite caused by jaw misalignment or asymmetry
  • A protruding lower jaw
  • An undersized lower jaw
  • A receding chin or lower jaw
  • Severe chronic jaw pain and/or TMJ disorder
  • An open bite (where the upper and lower teeth do not touch even when the mouth is closed)

In cases where orthognathic surgery may be required, Dr. Usmani will likely consult with or refer you to an oral surgeon as a part of your orthodontic treatment plan. Once a plan of care has been established, Dr. Usmani will begin the first stage of your orthodontic treatment, typically using braces. Once this is complete, you will schedule your surgery. After your jaw alignment issues have been addressed and you are sufficiently healed from surgery, you can continue your orthodontic treatments with Dr. Usmani. By combining the expertise of an orthodontist with that of an oral surgeon, patients generally find that the form, function, and appearance of their teeth and jaw is significantly improved.

6 Month Braces

6 Month Smiles is a state-of-the-art technique for treating more mild cases of misalignment in adults. Since the treatment primarily focuses on the visible front teeth, treatment times are typically drastically shorter, allowing most patients to achieve optimal results in around six months! The 6 Month Smiles system works by gently guiding the teeth into the correct position using discreet, tooth-colored appliances affixed to the fronts of the teeth. Dr. Usmani values your time and comfort, and she will work with you in order to design a treatment plan that is optimally suited to your lifestyle and goals.

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Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics

Am I too old for orthodontic care?

At Delaware Smile Center, we believe you are never too old to have a beautiful, healthy smile. We offer several orthodontic care options that are perfect for adults, including the 6 Month Smiles technique and Invisalign®. Both options will allow you to quickly and comfortably transform your smile and straighten your teeth to improve both the appearance and health of your mouth.

I need orthodontic care, but I really don’t want braces. What are my options?

We have a number of orthodontic treatments available that don’t require traditional bracket-and-wire braces, including the popular Invisalign® system, which uses a series of clear, plastic aligners to gently and comfortably move your teeth into their correct positions.

Do you provide orthodontic care for children and teenagers?

Good dental care starts early, and this includes orthodontic treatment. Sometimes, even young children need orthodontic treatment for a variety of concerns. At Delaware Smile Center, we are happy to help children as young as 7 years old get a great start on a beautiful, healthy smile.

Do I really need to worry about crooked teeth?

Even if your teeth don’t bother you from a cosmetic standpoint, crooked teeth can lead to significant dental problems down the line. For instance, teeth that are crooked or overlapping are difficult to brush properly, which can lead to cavities and decay. If your teeth are crowded, you might have problems flossing, which will eventually lead to periodontal (gum) disease. Because gum disease and dental decay are linked to serious health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, improperly aligned teeth affect your overall health.

Which Orthodontic Treatment Is Right for Me?

Orthodontic technology has come a long way in the past few years. Although traditional metal braces and wires continue to be a good option for many patients, there is also a range of other treatments that may provide a more discreet and comfortable alternative. Dr. Sophia Usmani will discuss your options with you—including clear, tooth-colored braces and Invisalign®—in order to decide which treatment best suits both your orthodontic needs and your lifestyle. Regardless of which treatment option you decide on, Dr. Usmani will do everything she can to ensure that obtaining healthy, properly aligned teeth doesn’t force you to compromise your lifestyle or your mature, professional appearance.