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Early Orthodontics

February 1st, 2024

Perhaps you are already planning for the years when your teenager will need orthodontic work. But hearing that your seven-year-old would benefit from orthodontic treatment? That might come as a complete surprise! It’s a recommendation with real benefits, though—early intervention can save children from tooth and bite problems now, and even simplify their future orthodontic care.

Treating young children for orthodontic problems is called “interceptive orthodontics.” When the permanent teeth start arriving, there might be problems with spacing, bite or protruding teeth. Often, treatment while the bones are still growing is the best way to prevent more serious problems later.

We recommend that your child have an orthodontic consultation with Dr. Paul Gates around the age of seven. This exam is especially important for children who may have been thumb suckers or used a pacifier after the age of three, or if you notice obvious teeth, speech or bite issues.

  • Crowding and Spacing Issues

Teeth are arranged in two crescent shapes called arches. When the arch of your child’s mouth is small, the permanent teeth can become very crowded as they erupt. Formerly, teeth were removed to make more room. Now, early use of a palatal expander can enlarge the upper dental arch in order to help the permanent teeth come in without crowding. The need for future tooth extraction is reduced, and there is a better chance for correct spacing and alignment with early treatment.

On the other hand, when a child loses a tooth too soon, too much space left between baby teeth can also be a problem. The remaining teeth can shift, leaving the wrong place open for the adult tooth to come in. We might recommend a space maintainer so that there is no shifting of the teeth and there is room for the proper adult tooth to erupt in its proper spot.

  • Malocclusions (Bite Problems)

Some malocclusions, like a crossbite, can be caused by problems with jaw and facial structure. Again, we might recommend a palatal expander to help the upper arch of the teeth to fit properly with the lower jaw. Problems with overbite, open bite and other bite issues can also be addressed at this age if necessary. Early care can discourage TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders, reduce speech problems, and improve facial symmetry. 

  • Protruding Front Teeth

Teeth that protrude are much more likely to be damaged when playing or after a fall. Methods such as braces or appliances can reposition them and protect them from breaking or fracturing.

Many children will not need early intervention, and many can wait until they are older for orthodontic work. But if your young child has orthodontic problems that should be addressed, early intervention can do more than set the stage for successful orthodontics in the teen years. Talk to our Round Rock, TX team about what we can do for your child. Interceptive orthodontics can protect teeth, guide jaw and speech development, modify harmful oral habits and help to adjust bite problems before they become serious—when it comes to your child’s dental health, the best solutions are early ones!

What's the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

January 25th, 2024

Orthodontists and dentists both help patients improve their oral health, but in different ways. Dentistry is a broad medical specialty that deals with the teeth, gum, nerves, and jaw, while orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that focuses on correcting bites, occlusion, and the straightness of teeth. One important difference is that all orthodontists like Dr. Paul Gates are dentists, but not all dentists are licensed orthodontists.

How are they similar?

The main similarity between a dentist and orthodontist is that they both focus on oral care. An orthodontist can work in a dental office and provide the same care as a dentist. So in this respect, they are quite similar. They are both considered doctors, and deal with the teeth and gums.

How are they different?

There are more differences than similarities. An orthodontist requires additional schooling as a dental specialty; the situation is similar to a doctor who obtains additional schooling to become a surgeon. Another difference is that orthodontists specialize in helping patients with the alignment of their teeth, improving their bite, or fitting them for corrective braces and devices. If a patient has an overbite, a dentist will refer him or her to an orthodontist.

Dentists typically encourage good oral hygiene and provide services related to:

  • Tooth decay
  • Root canals
  • Gum disease
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Veneers
  • Teeth whitening

Orthodontists are dentists that specialize in the alignment of teeth, and provide services related to:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite

What an orthodontist can help with

Orthodontists help with crooked teeth, but they assist patients with other issues as well. These include overbites and underbites, crossbites, spaces between teeth, overcrowding of teeth, and the treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Additional problems with the jaw also need to be treated by an orthodontist.

While a dentist may be trained to provide orthodontic care in addition to extractions, TMJ treatments, and fillings, trusting your smile to an orthodontist can better balance the different procedures you require.

To learn more about the difference between dentists and orthodontists, or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Paul Gates, please give our team at Round Rock Orthodontics a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office.

Get Your Orthodontic Journey Off to a Good Start

January 17th, 2024

Whether you’ve chosen traditional braces or invisible aligners, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step on your way to a beautiful, healthy smile. Of course, like every other journey, a good start helps you get where you’re going as quickly and easily as possible. And the best way to start your orthodontic journey at Round Rock Orthodontics is with a visit to your dentist for a checkup and a cleaning.

Dr. Paul Gates and our team will want you to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy before you begin. A complete dental exam will let you know if you have any dental conditions that need to be addressed before you get braces or aligners. Why be proactive? Because if you need dental work during your orthodontic treatment, it can cause delays in your treatment plan.

  • Cavities

Cavities grow over time and can eventually reach the inside of the tooth, causing infection and damaging the pulp. For this reason alone, it’s best to find and treat cavities before you get braces or aligners.

If you’re wearing braces when a cavity’s discovered, the situation gets a bit more complicated. Your dentist might be able to work around your braces if the cavity is easy to reach. But if a cavity’s near your brackets, Dr. Paul Gates might have to remove a wire or bracket before treatment can start. This means scheduling different appointments to a) remove a section of your braces, b) repair your cavity, and c) replace your bracket and/or wire. See what we mean? Definitely more complicated.

  • Gum Disease

While serious gum disease is most common in adults, children and teens can suffer from early-stage gum disease. Your gum health affects your orthodontic treatment—and can be affected by it, too—so your gums need to be healthy before you begin wearing braces or aligners.

Early gum disease can frequently be reversed with careful brushing and flossing habits. Because advanced gum disease weakens the bone under the teeth, patients with this kind of gum disease will need dental or periodontal treatment before any orthodontic work.

  • A Clean Start

Once you’ve made sure your teeth and gums are healthy, there’s one more proactive step you can take for a better orthodontic experience. Whenever you’re at the dentist for an exam, it’s always a good idea to get a professional cleaning. It’s especially important when you’re getting—or wearing—braces.

Even with the most dedicated everyday brushing and flossing, plaque and tartar can build up, especially between and behind the teeth. A professional cleaning by an expert is just what you need to remove any plaque or tartar that you’ve missed before you start wearing braces or aligners.

And keep up with professional cleanings while you’re in treatment. It can be difficult to clean around brackets and underneath wires. Your dental team knows how to gently and thoroughly clean plaque from these hard-to-reach spots. In fact, Dr. Paul Gates and your dentist might recommend that you have your teeth cleaned more often while you’re wearing braces.

  • Your Best Bonding Experience

If you’re getting metal brackets, ceramic brackets, or lingual braces, your brackets will be applied to your tooth enamel with a special bonding glue. Applying brackets to teeth that are their cleanest will start you off with the best possible bond.

If you need dental work while you wear braces, we can certainly accommodate that. But why make life more difficult? See your dentist for a cleaning and an exam and get any necessary dental treatment before you get your braces at our Round Rock, TX orthodontic office. The easiest journey to a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles begins with a good start!

How Braces Can Work at Any Age

January 11th, 2024

Are you an adult who is considering getting braces? Perhaps you’ve had them before, but over the years that dental work has been reversed. Or maybe you’ve never had any orthodontic work done, but are considering braces for the first time. In either case, Round Rock Orthodontics can help you enjoy straighter teeth, an improved bite, and a more beautiful smile. If you are considering getting braces, here is what you need to know about adult orthodontic work from Dr. Paul Gates.

Can braces work for adults?

Absolutely! Braces work for just about anyone. However, there are several different types of braces, and not all of them may work for you. Different types of orthodontic treatments include:

  • Ceramic braces
  • Metal braces
  • Self-ligating brackets
  • Lingual brackets (braces behind the teeth)
  • Invisible braces
  • Rubber bands for bite correction
  • Headgear and other appliances

By scheduling a consultation, we can determine which treatment or combination of treatments would be best for your specific needs.

How do I get started?

Getting braces can be a little bit daunting. At first glance, the process may appear expensive and time-consuming. However, if you take it step by step, getting braces can be a simple and relatively pain-free experience. Here are the first steps you need to take to get on the road to straight teeth:

First, you need information. If you are nervous about getting braces, or are having trouble getting started, learning more about the process can help ease your mind. Here are a few sample questions to ask:

  • What kind of braces do you recommend for my teeth?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • How often will I need to come in for adjustments?
  • What is the total cost of the treatment? Do you accept insurance? Will you require the full amount up front, or do you have payment plans?

Asking these types of questions will help you understand what to expect during the entire process, which can aid your decision on the proper course of action.

The next step is to complete any prerequisite treatment. During your first meeting with Dr. Paul Gates, we’ll need to take some X-rays and molds of your teeth, and then help you determine an appropriate treatment plan. Recommendations may include some preliminary dental work before you get your braces, which can be an important step in making sure your orthodontic treatments are effective.

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to get started! After you’ve chosen a treatment plan and undergone any necessary prerequisite dental work, you’ll be able to get your braces. Just like that, you’re on your way to a better smile! If you’d like to get started right away, call our Round Rock, TX location today!

503 E Palm Valley Blvd Building 2 Suite 200
Round Rock, TX 78664
(512) 244-2644
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