Lionville Professional Center
145 Dowlin Forge Road
Exton, PA 19341

Gap Business Center
Route 30
Gap, PA 17527

General Information on Orthodontics

Feeling Good About Braces
October is National Orthodontic Health Month
Orthodontic Elastics
Orthodontics and Your Vacation
The Value of a Beautiful Smile
What Creates Orthodontic Problems?
What is an Orthodontist?
The Best Time for the First Evaluation


Feeling Good About Braces

Some of your friends are wearing "them" already. You've heard your family discussing "them" with other families. Then you visit your dentist, or see a possible problem yourself, and the next thing you know you have an appointment with an orthodontist for ... braces!

What are braces like? Do they hurt? How do they go on? What will they look like? These and other questions begin to race through your mind.

Full orthodontic treatment today is more comfortable and more "patient-friendly" than ever before - from your first visit until that final brace is removed. Not long ago, each tooth had a thin band of metal wrapped around it during orthodontic treatment. To place these "bands," space had to be forced between each of your teeth - not very comfortable. Additionally, the bands next to one another on the upper and lower teeth gave you that unfashionable "train tracks" look.

Today, nearly all braces are smaller, without the band wrapped completely around the tooth. There are even miniature metal braces -- smaller and more comfortable than standard metal braces -- and of course, the more esthetic opaque or "clear" ceramic braces.

The entire process of having braces placed on your teeth usually takes one to two hours and, believe it or not, is pain free -- no drills, no needles, no poking. The front braces are placed directly on the teeth using a special bonding process, and the back bands, since there are only a small number, are easy too.

Now that your braces are on, what can you expect next? Some general soreness is easily relieved with warm salt water rinses or aspirin or Tylenol, and usually ends by the third or fourth day (care should be taken here if the patient is sensitive or allergic to aspirin). Also, your teeth may feel a bit loose, but this is normal. The teeth must loosen slightly so that they can be moved into their ideal positions.

Your diet will change a bit as well, as you will want to stay away from hard and sticky foods. Most foods can still be eaten, however. Athletics will require some special precautions. You should consult with an orthodontist about these.

Before orthodontic treatment begins, nearly everyone has concerns about what it will be like. If you find you need to "brace" yourself, know that it will probably be much easier than you thought and the lifetime benefits of an ideal bite and an attractive smile are well worth it.

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October is National Orthodontic Health Month

We all know that October marks the month of Halloween. What would late October be without its traditional costumes and candy? October is also National Orthodontic Health Month, started in 1995 by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) to benefit current and future orthodontic patients through public education.

If you are currently an orthodontic patient, I’d like to help you keep your treatment on schedule during this festive Halloween season. Remember -- most foods and many types of candy are fine to eat with braces, as long as you brush well after eating. Soft chocolate (non-refrigerated) and other soft candies are delicious and orthodontic-friendly. However, hard, sticky, and chewy candy will likely damage your orthodontic appliances, which can add several weeks or months to your treatment. Help yourself by following a proper “orthodontic” diet this Halloween, and don’t let the ghouls and goblins of orthodontic treatment slow you down during National Orthodontic Health Month.

Here are some interesting orthodontic facts. According to the AAO, over four million people in the United States and Canada are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment. You may be one of them! Believe it or not, orthodontic patients range in ages from 3 to well into their 60’s, and older. In fact, it may surprise you to know that one in four patients is over the age of 18. That all adds up to millions of beautiful smiles and improved feelings of well being every year. Early treatment of orthodontic problems can help avoid more serious dental problems in the future. Further, most orthodontic problems are easier to correct if treated earlier rather than waiting until jaw growth has slowed or stopped. This is important since it is estimated that 3 out of 4 children will need orthodontic treatment.

The AAO recommends that children be evaluated by an orthodontist by the age of 7. Often, no treatment is required at this time. We may suggest to watch the development of the face, jaws, and teeth. However, if treatment is indicated, perhaps the patient can avoid future permanent tooth extractions, functional problems, and even jaw surgery. Of course, orthodontic treatment can be performed at any age, as long as your teeth are healthy. However, the easiest time to treat orthodontic problems is while you are growing. Proper timing also results in the most stable correction. Thus, if your dentist recommends an orthodontic evaluation, or if you are concerned about something that just doesn’t seem quite right, see an orthodontist at your earliest convenience.

Here is a partial list of things you might notice that an orthodontist can help you with:

  • crowded, blocked, or badly aligned teeth protruding teeth
  • jaws that are too far forward or back
  • speech problems
  • early or late loss of primary (baby) teeth
  • jaws that shift, make noise, hurt, or “lock”
  • finger or thumb sucking
  • mouth breathing or snoring
  • teeth that are “crossed over” in the bite (crossbite)
  • teeth that meet improperly
  • difficulty in chewing or biting
  • biting your cheeks or the roof of your mouth
  • facial imbalance or asymmetry
  • tooth grinding or clenching
  • early wear of the teeth

Be careful out there as you enjoy another fun Halloween.

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Orthodontic Elastics

One of the most commonly asked questions in my practice is, "Will I have to wear elastics?" Because elastic “rubber bands” are easy to see on other patients, and because they are utilized so often, this question often arises.

Are elastics always necessary? What do elastics do? How long must elastics be worn? Elastics are sometimes necessary along with your braces since they "energize" your braces. It is this energy in the proper direction that aligns your bite and straightens your teeth.

Orthodontic problems come in every shape and size imaginable. As a result, there are several sizes of elastics to help solve these numerous problems. The smaller and thicker the elastics, the more energy it provides for the braces. The spot on the braces where the elastics are attached is very important in every orthodontic treatment. Careful attention to proper elastic placement will shorten the treatment time and avoid unnecessary delays for the patient. Wearing elastics the proper number of hours each day is also critical in achieving a beautiful orthodontic result.

The most difficult part of wearing elastics is getting accustomed to them. The energy that the elastics provide can also create some temporary discomfort, and wearing them properly helps this to pass quickly, often in less than a week. Also remembering to always have some elastics with you can take some time as well. Fortunately, lighter energy than ever before can be used to accomplish proper orthodontic movement. Also, today’s option of fun colored elastics make them easier to wear.

Orthodontic elastics have been used for many years, and may always be a part of orthodontic treatment. Amazingly, small and powerful magnets are now being used both experimentally and in some standard treatments to improve or even replace elastics. It is likely that some combination of these two will help to correct many future orthodontic problems.

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Orthodontics and Your Vacation

Summertime - the word conjures such wonderful thoughts and images, vacations and summer fun. Your orthodontic treatment will continue as you go on vacation, even if you're away for the entire summer. Here are a few tips to keep your treatment moving along smoothly while you're away.

*Tell your orthodontist -- you're going away, and for how long. Your braces and appliances can usually be adjusted to remain active for the appropriate length of time, helping to move your treatment along on schedule.

*Wax -- be sure to bring along plenty of wax. If something becomes uncomfortable, use it until you can see a doctor.

*Remember your headgear -- the more you wear it, the shorter your treatment and the better your results.

*Take along extra elastics -- wear them properly so your treatment won't be extended.

*Brush and floss properly -- there's never a vacation from keeping your teeth clean and healthy.

*Retainers and functional appliances -- bring these with you and wear them properly. They should either be in your mouth, or in their case. Don't bring them swimming with you -- you're likely to lose them. And keep them out of a hot closed parked car -- extreme heat can warp them and render them useless.

*Loose bands and brackets -- can usually be replaced by a local orthodontist. If this isn't possible, carefully remove it or cut it loose and bring it along to your next appointment. Call your orthodontist to see if elastics can be continued.

*Broken retainers and functional appliances -- if a retainer breaks, the teeth may begin to shift. Call your orthodontist immediately. As always, save all of the pieces and bring them to your next visit.

Enjoy your vacation as you collect fond memories for tomorrow, and complete your orthodontic treatment on time, with a beautiful smile.

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The Value of a Beautiful Smile

Research shows that of the various components of a person's face, the mouth is often the most noticed feature. Our mouth is a focus of attention because we consistently communicate and express our feelings through it.

We are all very aware of how our teeth look - sometimes even unconsciously. Some individuals are so self-conscious, they've become experts at hiding their smiles. They may sport a shy grin, look away, or even cover their smile with one or both hands. Some people are so concerned about the appearance of their mouth that they simply won't let themselves smile at all.

Orthodontic treatment is a proven method of improving appearance and self-esteem, as well as improving the health and function of smiles. Dr. Virgulti has witnessed thousands of children and adults blossom as their smiles improved from self-conscious to self-confident.

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What Creates Orthodontic Problems?

The vast majority of orthodontic problems are inherited. Orthodontic problems related to the teeth include crowding, extra teeth, missing teeth, impacted teeth and cleft palate. Bite problems related to the jaws come in many varieties, and include overbites and underbites, and other irregularities as well.

Orthodontic problems can also be acquired by unfavorable patterns or habits that adversely reshape the mouth or the position of teeth. Acquired problems can include thumb or finger sucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, as well as accidents related to the face and teeth, dental disease (such as cavities) and premature loss of primary or permanent teeth.

Whether inherited or acquired, many of these problems can affect facial appearance. Of course, this can influence the way we feel about our smiles and ourselves. Orthodontic specialists, by working together with family dentists, patients and their families, can correct these problems to create beautiful, long-lasting smiles.

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What is an Orthodontist?

An Orthodontist, or specialist in Orthodontics, is a dentist who:

  • has completed an additional two year residency program to specialize in the study, prevention, and correction of irregularities in tooth and jaw relationships, and deformities of the face produced by these conditions.
  • only provides orthodontic services (braces, functional appliances, TMJ therapy) - no fillings are done in the office.
  • is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists.

Orthodontists have traditionally been concerned with the correction of improper tooth alignment and occlusion (bite) primarily by movement of teeth. In recent years, new techniques and a better understanding of growth and development have given orthodontists the ability to not only move teeth, but to modify poor skeletal and neuromuscular growth patterns. This results in a better bite, a nicer looking smile, and a more pleasing facial structure.

What if your own family dentist or periodontist offers to straighten your or your child's teeth? Legally, any dentist can do as much orthodontics as he or she feels qualified to do. Although some minor orthodontic problems can be treated by non-orthodontists, the great majority of people would benefit from the services of the orthodontic specialist.

The goal of orthodontic treatment is to achieve balance and harmony between the teeth and face for a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles. The residency training of the Orthodontist and the experience gained from full time attention to the specialty produce a professional who is well qualified to attain that goal. As a point of interest, Dr. Virgulti has successfully completed treatment on over 9,000 patients.

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The Best Time for the First Evaluation

If you already have a child in orthodontic treatment, or if your children are between the ages of 7 and 9 years old, this may be of help to you.

Often children within a family will exhibit certain predictable patterns of growth in much the same way they inherit similar eye and hair color. Like other family traits, particular patterns of tooth and jaw development also “run in families.”

As a preventive orthodontic office, we like to examine the children in our patient’s family by the age of 7. Usually no orthodontic treatment will be needed at this time. However, by making use of early interceptive methods, these evaluations can sometimes shorten full treatment in the future, and can avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions. This leads to more comfortable treatment and better, healthier smiles. An initial orthodontic evaluation at age 7 is also recommended and endorsed by the American Association of Orthodontists – the only internationally recognized group representing orthodontic specialists.

We have found that parents sometimes feel they do not need to have their younger children examined by us unless their general or children’s dentist makes a referral. We do not always find that dentists recognize the same problems that we do, any more than we would recognize some of the problems that they look for in general dentistry. True, we are all dentists, but the specialty of orthodontics is complex and is a large field by itself.

With these facts in mind, we hope you will have all your children examined by age 7 so that we can provide your family the best dental care they deserve. In the interest of prevention, we are happy to offer all initial examinations and follow-up recall visits at no charge. If you would like to take advantage of this open offer, please tell our Scheduling Coordinators at our front desk. They will be glad to set up an appointment for you.

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