At one time not long past the automatic treatment of overcrowded teeth was the extraction of perfectly good teeth. But once removed you can’t get ‘em back.

Eventually, technology, affordability, and a growing appreciation for our oral health have advanced the popularity of braces and other corrective devices meant to save your natural teeth. More than 40% of teens have had orthodontic procedures. Also, what was an exclusive domain of youth has become an accepted and popular cosmetic procedure among adults.

What do orthodontists do?

Orthodontists are dentists with additional education who specialize in the treatment of misaligned teeth. After examining your teeth they create a treatment plan for correcting your problem. Following the plan, they use various devices (e.g. braces for overcrowding) to move your crooked teeth very gradually over time into their proper alignment so that your bite is normal and comfortable. This procedure usually takes 1 to 3 years to complete.

They also treat jaw pain, gum disease, or sleep apnea.

What are orthodontists’ qualifications?

An orthodontist will usually have completed 10 or 11 years of classroom and clinical education to be certified to practice orthodontic dentistry. After a four-year undergraduate degree, they will enter a four-year graduate dental school consisting of two years of specialized coursework classroom education plus two years of supervised clinical experience.

Regular dentists will then receive their Doctor of Dental Medicine degree and pass the National Board of Dental Examinations state and clinical tests. They are then licensed to practice dentistry.

Orthodontists must go further with a residency program of two or three years where they will learn the physics of how teeth are moved. They learn by observing and assisting practicing orthodontists in a clinical environment.

What are teeth crowding symptoms?

The most troublesome symptom of teeth crowding is malocclusion (i.e. misaligned teeth). Malocclusion is the most common dental problem treated by orthodontists. Overcrowded teeth result from the simple fact that there is not enough room in your mouth for your teeth because your teeth are too big, too many, or your jaw is too small. Sometimes, a severe case can see very overcrowded teeth.

If your teeth have a proper occlusion you are lucky because your teeth are aligned properly and upper and lower teeth mesh when you close your mouth. That is, they close comfortably without uneven pressure on other teeth or your jawbone.

If your teeth are not properly aligned the condition is called ‘malocclusion’. An orthodontist’s principal practice is the correction of malocclusion and overcrowding teeth. Overcrowded teeth are not just a form of malocclusion but also one of the major causes of other forms of malocclusion.

Malocclusion takes different forms resulting in different kinds of bad ‘bites”. The common types of bad bites are


You have a crossbite when some but not all of your top front teeth or back teeth are inside your bottom teeth.

Crossbites can cause your jaw to shift to one side giving a lopsided appearance, as well as uneven wear on enamel.


With an underbite, your lower jaw rests in front of your upper jaw. Your lower teeth are thus jutting out in front of your upper teeth.

An underbite creates stress and pain in jaw (TMJ) joints as well as cosmetic issues.

Open bite

In normal occlusion, your back teeth mesh comfortably together while your upper front teeth (being larger) overlap slightly your bottom front teeth.

In the case of an anterior open bite, your back teeth mesh together properly but your front teeth do not overlap.

You have a posterior open bite when your front teeth properly mesh but your back teeth do not meet.

These open bite conditions can cause swallowing difficulty or speech impediment.

Deep bite

A deep bite is a problem when your front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth too much. In a severe deep bite, your bottom teeth can be totally covered up.

The complications include teeth biting into your lower gums and your lower teeth cutting your mouth roof. As a result, you can develop pain, gum disease, or undue enamel wear.


The opposite of overcrowding teeth is too much space between teeth. It can be caused by missing teeth, undersized teeth, oversized jawbones, or all of the above. Gum disease and irritation can result.

What causes malocclusion?

Crowding teeth is often caused by genetic factors, too many teeth, impacted teeth, abnormal tooth shape, and misalignment after a fractured jaw.

Other malocclusions are caused principally by genetic factors as well as overcrowding teeth and missing or extracted teeth. Malocclusions are often attributed to behavioral factors such as thumb sucking and pacifier use.

How are malocclusions and overcrowding teeth corrected?

How do you fix overcrowded teeth? The principal tools of an orthodontist are various orthodontic appliances made of various materials and methods.

How do braces work on crowded teeth? The purpose of the devices is to very slowly over many months move teeth into the optimal alignment and fix overcrowded teeth.

The process takes a long time because of the mechanics of the process. When a tooth or teeth are moved they leave a gap in the gum and bone. The gap must be healed and filled before another movement is attempted. If the tooth is moved too far in a single move or too soon before the next adjustment the tooth does not stabilize. As a result, the realignment does not have a long-lasting effect.

Hence, orthodontal treatments must necessarily occur with several adjustment visits over the course of several months or even years.

Saving a tooth is always preferred over an extraction. Manual realignment of very crowded teeth is sometimes workable. However, very crowded teeth might need either surgery or extraction.


Braces for crowding are the most often used appliance for correcting overcrowded teeth or malocclusions. They are made of various materials or methods including:

• Metal
• Ceramics
• Self-ligating braces
• Lingual braces
• Clear aligners like Invisalign.

The most common corrective devices are forms of braces for crowded teeth consisting of:

• Brackets attached (glued) to the front of each of your teeth.
• Wires connected to each of the brackets.
• Rubber bands to hold the wire to the brackets.

At each periodic visit to your orthodontist, they will tighten the wires very slightly to pull and reposition your misaligned teeth. This tension will move your teeth in your gums and bone. The durability of those adjustments is assured by limiting the gap left behind to be healed and filled by tissue and bone at any one visit.

Variations of braces

Traditional braces are made of stainless steel brackets, wires, and tiny rubber bands. Alternatively, the brackets are made of tooth-colored ceramics.

Self-ligating braces use a different kind of ligation method for fixing the wire to the brackets. Traditional ligature employs rubber bands. Self-ligating braces employ a different system for binding the wire to the brackets. They still need periodic tightening adjustments.

Lingual braces use the same materials as traditional braces except the brackets are bonded to the inside of your teeth and therefore out of sight.


Personal appearance is a major consideration, particularly for teenagers whose self-esteem is so fragile during those years. Things are different these days when almost half of the teen population have an orthodontal correction. Kids now experience less stigma from braces. For some, they are a badge of honor.

Nevertheless, experts are always developing ways to provide more aesthetic devices to correct a malocclusion. Recently, clear aligners (e.g. Invisalign) are becoming more popular.

They are devices for straightening misaligned teeth without the use of metal braces. They are made from BPA-free plastic. There are no wires or brackets. As such, they are more comfortable than metal braces. The plastic material is clear so they are almost invisible.

Invisalign adjustment is a process of device replacement as your teeth are moved. Initially, a mold is taken of your teeth which are fitted with a unit designed to make the next movement. At your next visit, an adjusted unit is fitted to your teeth to move your teeth through the next phase of your correction program.

Clear aligners are believed to require a treatment process of less duration than metal braces. That might be attributable to the fact that they are suitable only for malocclusions of mild to moderate severity. Correction of more severe cases will naturally take longer or metal braces.

Moreover, remember that speed is not necessarily a benefit for a particular teeth-moving procedure. For a durable correction of malocclusion. there must be sufficient time between adjustments for the gap and trauma left behind each tooth movement to heal and fill in.

Another consideration is that more discipline is needed from the patient to ensure the effectiveness of clear aligners like Invisalign. Unlike metal braces, clear aligners are removable. It takes a disciplined adherence to a daily routine for them to be effective.
Teenagers are not known for such diligence. If they are not being employed on a regular and consistent basis according to the treatment plan clear aligners are not moving your teeth as they should.

Other appliances

A headgear attaches to the outside of your head. They are generally used as supplemental devices at night. The purpose is to maintain the tension of your regular braces.

Retainers are used to maintain a newly completed realignment. They are plastic molded to your teeth. They are usually removable and worn only at night.

A twin-block appliance is designed to move your lower jaw forward. They are worn full-time except for cleaning but they are made from comfortable smooth acrylic

What is the cost of braces in Richmond?

The cost of braces hardware is coming down. Presently it is in the neighborhood of $2,000. Add to that the cost of your orthodontist’s expertise, time, and overhead.

Total costs vary depending on the materials and procedures used. The range of prices are:

• Metal braces: $3,000 to $7,000
• Ceramic braces: $4,000 to $8,000
• Lingual braces: $8,000 to $10,000
• Invisalign: $4,000 to $7,400

When your orthodontist evaluates your case they will prepare a plan that lays out the expected number of visits for installation and periodic adjustments. It will include a budget. If you pay it all upfront you may get a discount. Some orthodontists accept payment plans. Others might introduce you to third-party financing alternatives.

Learn more about cost of braces in Richmond.


Children need close attention to their oral health and teeth development. Almost half of all kids require orthodontic intervention to avoid or correct overcrowding and malocclusion. Those conditions pose not just cosmetic issues but gum disease, cavities, and other oral health problems.

At Luna Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, TX our staff has many years of experience in addressing common orthodontic problems of children. We provide early dental care, restorative dental services, sedation dentistry, and emergency care.

If you are wondering where can I find an orthodontist near me we are among the best orthodontics in Richmond, TX and we also serve patients in the 77407 zip code area. We also have on our staff a Sugar land orthodontist.

Bring your child in for a checkup. We are experts at working with kids.