Some Things Never Change in Orthodontics… Unless It’s for the Better

If you can remember braces in the 1980s, you might recall visions of large, bulky, metal braces. For those of us lucky enough to wear braces in the 80s, you had to have a large single band placed on each tooth. And are you ready for this? The braces were placed with a “thumper”. The process to adhere the braces to teeth was not only long but quite uncomfortable. In addition, having braces was perceived as something only wealthy people could afford.


It’s a bonus then, that over the last 30 years, not only has getting braces become affordable, but orthodontic treatments have changed considerably. Lengthy traditional treatments and bulky braces have been replaced with a series of customized, streamlined, and barely visible options. Once thick, messy compounds have been replaced with digital scans for crafting today’s dental devices, and safer sedation options have become available for each unique patient’s needs.

Today’s choices combine the cutting edge of innovative dentistry with many years of successful treatment to allow for greater comfort and convenience, individualized care, and more time to relax between visits.

Let’s take a look at some of the main ways orthodontic practices have evolved over the past 30 years:

Customized Braces

  • Self-ligating Braces - While traditional metal braces are still available, being highly affordable as well as effective, they can now be customized to reflect a more modern look and level of convenience. At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry and Orthodontics, we offer self-ligating metal braces, an efficient option due to their low-profile brackets, shorter and more efficient treatment times, and need for fewer appointments overall.

  • Clear Braces - Clear braces are another popular alternative. With brackets designed to match your teeth, providing optimal discretion, they’re usually subtle up close and nearly undetectable in photographs. Being self-ligating as well, clear braces may also require fewer appointments and shorter treatment times.

  • Space Technology Wires - Did you know that the wires we use today are made using space-age technology? NASA developed a metal that was designed to be used in outer space. This heat-activated nickel-titanium metal is the same nickel-titanium alloy that is used to make orthodontic wires. These wires work with the body and body temperature to move the teeth in a more flexible manner compared to other types of metals. Orthodontists don’t need to bend wires like they used to, and the wires move patients’ teeth more efficiently and consistently, with less discomfort.

  • Invisible Aligners - For patients with fewer or mostly cosmetic concerns, invisible aligners make a nice option. Jungle Roots provides the latest aligners, an invisible alternative to braces. While they can achieve the same results as traditional braces, clear aligner treatment requires no brackets or wires and is extremely affordable.

Digital X-Rays

Exposing the patient to much less radiation than conventional X-rays, digital X-rays use a sensor rather than film. This method allows certain areas of concern, (decay between the teeth, dental development, bone disease, etc.), to be seen that wouldn’t be visible when doing a regular office examination.

Early Intervention

We are conservative in our approach to treatments, pediatric orthodontics included, but we also understand the value of early intervention. A child should receive their first orthodontic evaluation when they are 7 years old. At this time, we will give an all clear, decide to wait and see how your child develops, or recommend early intervention to reduce or eliminate future orthodontic problems. We can also work with your child on thumb habit or tongue thrust issues in a timely manner.

Digital Scans

Impressions can now be made for molding dental devices without the thick, messy compounds of previous decades. The necessary measurements can be taken via digital scanners, a method that also allows for fewer adjustments and unnecessary appointments for fittings. This, in turn, means less time away from work, home, school, and treasured leisure time.

Conscious Sedation

We now offer alternatives besides laughing gas and unconscious sedation to help calm patients during certain procedures. Conscious Sedation is designed to meet the needs of young patients, or those without fully developed coping skills or strategies. A lighter state of sedation, Conscious Sedation allows the patient to stay awake but able to sit comfortably still in their chair while the procedure takes place. We are privileged to have Dr. Jason Brady, a nationally and internationally recognized unconscious sedation specialist, perform this very important role in our office. His caring manner and expertise will help you and your child feel safe if sedation is necessary.

Special Needs Patients

Over the years, dental and orthodontic training has improved in regard to working with special needs patients, such as those challenged with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dr. Culp’s twenty years as a board-certified pediatric dentist have allowed him to become an expert in calming techniques and successfully meet the needs of patients with autism spectrum disorder, physical challenges, speech delays, sensory disorders, and more. Our entire staff at Jungle Roots is dedicated to providing a child-friendly environment that tailors treatment to the needs of all our young patients. Be sure to let us know if your child has any health conditions, so we can ensure the best possible experience for them.

TMJ Disorder

In former years, TMJ disorder might have been met with suggestions for extreme forms of treatment, including surgery to correct the problem. Now with modern advances, conservative approaches are more likely, including jaw exercises and stretching, prescription medications such as muscle relaxers, or mouth guards to wear overnight to prevent grinding and clenching of the jaw while asleep.

Sleep Apnea and Breathing Problems

Once brushed aside as simply having trouble sleeping, sleep apnea is now recognized as a potentially serious condition, causing jaw grinding, choking/gasping in the sleep, heavy snoring, mood and personality changes, cognitive problems, overwhelming sleepiness, depression, irritability, inability to concentrate, and chronic head congestion. And while concerning on their own, these problems can ultimately lead to further worsening issues of high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, and more.

While sleep specialists or Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors (otolaryngologists) typically diagnose and treat sleep apnea, it may also be caused by craniofacial structure problems. When this is the case, orthodontic treatment can often successfully cure sleep apnea and related breathing disorders. We can help monitor your child as their face grows to help identify any potential problems that could lead to a greater risk of developing the condition. This is another great reason for your child to receive an orthodontic evaluation when they are seven-years-old.

Complimentary Consultations

Aside from being a great way to meet your child’s new orthodontist and discuss all of your questions and concerns upfront, we offer complimentary consultations that allow you and your child to begin to feel comfortable with us and ensure everyone understands what is likely to occur in the future.

Complimentary consultations also give us time to work with you to create a plan that works for your family’s needs, within the budgeting guidelines of your insurance package. This helps keep everyone on the same page so there are no surprises on future bills.

In Conclusion

We’re grateful for all of these modern improvements in the pediatric dentistry and orthodontic realm, as they make the process much easier for all involved. For an assessment of any orthodontic or dental issues, we would be happy to schedule a complimentary consultation with you once our office is open for regular visits. Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Call Us at (480) 759-1119


Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics

At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.

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