Innovative Orthodontics – Warm People – Beautiful Smiles

Ask The Orthodontist

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. It is a distinct specialty branch of dentistry, recognized specifically by the American Dental Association.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education residency of at least 2 years following dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development. In addition, the orthodontist must pass an orthodontic specialty licensure board examination to earn a license in the State of Michigan, to announce they are limiting their practice to orthodontics, and then they must fulfill specific continuing education requirements to maintain that license. In addition, some orthodontists go a step beyond to earn board certification as a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontists. Fewer still are invited by their peers to join an honorary organization such as the Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists. Dr. S. Jay Bowman is board-certified, an Angle member, and has averaged over 100 hours of continuing education each year.

Does Dr. Bowman explain all the options for treatment for my situation?

Dr. Bowman is always interested in presenting a variety of options for treatment so that you may make the most informed decision about your care.

Is treatment tailored to my specific needs and desires?

Absolutely. Care and consideration is taken by Dr. Bowman and our staff to treat each patient as an individual, not a “cookie cutter” approach.

Is the orthodontist present for my appointments?

Dr. Bowman must be present for treatment procedures to be performed. He is committed to keeping you informed about your progress so if you have specific questions, please ask to speak with him.  Communication about treatment goals and procedures is important to him.

How is progress updated for patients and parents?

Although Dr. Bowman is evaluating and modifying treatment at each visit, our excellent clinical staff provides normal progress updates at each appointment. Dr. Bowman also provides progress notes about specific concerns. However, if you have specific questions at a particular appointment, Dr. Bowman will also answer them. He also conducts periodic, formalized review of each patient’s treatment progress including a written report.

Do you get your patients finished on time as predicted?

The most frequently asked question of an orthodontist is “when am I getting my braces off?” Dr. Bowman has always keyed on making accurate predictions and following-through. Certainly, patient’s cooperation in following prescribed directions is absolutely crucial in finishing on time.


What are some benefits of orthodontics?

  • An enhanced and more beautiful smile
  • Reduction in self-consciousness
  • Teeth function better
  • Increase in self-esteem
  • Orthodontically corrected teeth are less prone to chipping and wear
  • Teeth and gums are easier to clean and are in better health
  • Better chewing and food digestion
  • Permanent teeth are guided into better positions
  • Helps optimize dental treatment such as crowns and bridges
  • Reduced risk of TMD or TMJ: less strain on jaw muscles/joints
  • Early correction of crossbites improves jaw development and function
  • Closing spaces between teeth to reduce need for some bridges/implants

Megan in the studio

What are some signs that indicate that I might need braces?

  • Teeth are crowded – they have insufficient room to grow
  • Uneven spacing between teeth
  • The lower front teeth sit in front of the upper front teeth, indicating an underbite
  • The upper teeth extend too far forward, indicating protrusion
  • The upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth, indicating a crossbite
  • The upper front teeth extend out over the lower front teeth, indicating an overbite
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not overlap, indicating an overbite
  • Uneven wear on teeth
  • Pain in jaw or jaw shifting
  • Pain or difficulty chewing

At what age should orthodontic treatment start?

We can start orthodontic treatment at any age. However, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child needs to visit an orthodontist by age 7. With early treatment, a patient can potentially avoid complications because orthodontic problems are easier to correct at that age.


What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10 before all permanent teeth have come in. Phase I treatment last from 6 to 20 months. The primary objective for Phase I treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe and to improve self-esteem and self-image. At this time it may be recommended that space be made for developing teeth. Phase II treatment occurs after all of the permanent teeth have erupted and full braces are placed, usually between the ages of 11 and 13.

Is it too late to have orthodontic treatment if I am an adult?

There is no age limit for orthodontic treatment. A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, 25 percent of all orthodontic patients are adults. We have had patients in braces and Invisalign in their 80’s.



How does orthodontic treatment work?

Each patient’s orthodontic condition requires a treatment plan based on a specialized diagnosis of the case. Braces have one goal: to use gentle pressure to move teeth into proper alignment. To achieve this, brackets are placed on the surface of your teeth with an archwire inside it. The archwire connects all of the brackets and gently applies pressure to the teeth, guiding the direction of the movement.

What is the average length of orthodontic treatment?

Treatment time obviously depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic problem and compliance by the patient. In general, treatment times range from 6 months to 3 years. The “average” time frame a person is in braces is approximately 24 months.

It is important to keep your treatment on schedule by continuing your oral hygiene routine.

Do braces hurt?

Generally, braces do not “hurt.” After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, patients do not feel any soreness at all!


Can I still play sports if I have braces?

Yes. Wearing braces does not interfere with playing sports. However, we do recommend wearing a mouth guard for all sports. A mouth guard helps protect your teeth and braces from impact. They come in different colors and are inexpensive. Some famous athletes have sported braces: Brett Favre and Tyrell Davis both won Super Bowls with braces. “The Admiral” David Robinson played NBA basketball, and one Kalamazoo Orthodontics’ patient was a goalie for the Kalamazoo Wings hockey team.

Can I still play musical instruments if I have braces?

Absolutely! You can still play your musical instrument. If you play a reed instrument or one that requires a mouthpiece, there may be a period of adjustment once your braces are placed.

Should I see my family dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Yes, you should continue to see your family dentist every three to six months for cleanings and dental checkups.

Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful!
   -Thich Nhat Hanh

Kalamazoo Orthodontics – Improving Southwest
Michigan One Smile at a Time