Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics
Orthodontics FAQs

Orthodontics FAQs

Orthodontics Frequently Asked Questions

You can finally get the stunning smile you have always wanted, thanks to our expert orthodontic services in Santa Barbara, California. Our Harvard-trained orthodontist, Dr. Hamid, will provide expert-level service and helpful advice to perfect your smile. At See Me Smile Dental & Orthodontics, we enjoy helping our patients achieve the smile of their dreams through our quality orthodontic services based on the latest technologies. We've gathered the most commonly asked questions that we hear.

What is Orthodontic Dental Care?

General dentistry is a form of medicine that focuses on the health and wellness of the mouth. Primarily, it is concerned with keeping teeth, gums, and related structures (such as the jaw) healthy and functional.

Orthodontics is a specific type of dentistry that diagnoses, corrects, and prevents crooked teeth and jaw irregularities. The term "malocclusions" refers to a misalignment of the teeth and/or jaw that may affect biting and chewing. In orthodontics, malpositioned teeth and jaws ("malocclusions") are corrected to regain function while also improving appearance.

Misaligned teeth and jaws are common in the United States. According to the American Association of Orthodontics, almost 50% of Americans have crooked teeth or jaw irregularities that could benefit from the help of an orthodontist. (Only 10% may be "medically necessary" officially - but when it comes to having a smile you are not embarrassed of, "necessary" may be relative.)

At See Me Smile Dental in Santa Barbara, California, we specialize in using the latest orthodontic appliances and technologies. Our experienced orthodontist and helpful staff will collaborate with you to develop an amazing new smile you'll be proud of. Our state-of-the-art orthodontic treatments will ensure that you will achieve a smile you absolutely love.

What Is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in orthodontics and helps patients by correcting misaligned teeth and jaws to improve your smile. This requires additional training beyond general dental school, typically two to three years.

Our staff orthodontist, Dr. Hamid, received his initial dentistry training at USC (The University of Southern California) and his advanced orthodontist training at Harvard University's School of Dental Medicine. He is current on all the latest orthodontic technologies and is well-liked by his patients for his kind and upbeat demeanor.

How Can Orthodontic Dental Care Help Me?

Orthodontic dental care can help with a variety of conditions, including:

Crooked teeth:

If you have teeth that are crooked, this may cause a variety of challenges. First, there is the cosmetic issue or how your teeth look when you smile. But crooked teeth may cause problems more than just a less than ideal smile. Crooked teeth may interfere with your bite, making it harder to chew properly. This could also put stress on your jaw. Finally, misaligned teeth may make it more difficult to floss and properly clean the teeth. This could make you more susceptible to gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontal (gum) disease.

Crowded teeth:

Teeth that are too close together can also cause problems. They can cause pain due to teeth overcrowding. This can also affect the integrity of the bite. They are also harder to floss and keep clean.

Separated teeth:

Spaces between the teeth can be annoying from a personal appearance point of view. However, you may not realize that spaces between your teeth can also make it harder to keep your gums healthy. While you might think that having a space between the teeth would be easier to clean, in reality, the opposite is the case. A space between the teeth can be a place where food gets caught, and then embedded into the gum. Overtime, this can lead to the development of gingivitis or gum disease.


An overbite occurs when the upper part of the teeth jut out in front of the lower teeth. This can be due to the jaw being too far forward or the teeth being poorly positioned. Overbites may be considered undesirable cosmetically but the health considerations are even more important. Overbites can cause jaw pain, headaches, TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction), tooth damage, and even sleep apnea.


An underbite is the opposite of an overbite. With an underbite, the bottom teeth are too far forward and sometimes extend in front of the upper teeth. For the same reasons that an overbite is bad, an underbite requires correction to reduce jaw pain, protect teeth, and improve the ability to chew.

Ultimately, having a beautiful smile is one of the best investments you can make. This isn't just about vanity. It's about having a healthier mouth, as well as stronger teeth and gums. A nice smile can also be a personal and professional asset.

What is the Best Age to Consult an Orthodontist?

Adults of any age can benefit from seeing an orthodontist - it is never too late! In fact, one in five patients are actually over 21. If you are a parent, you want to wait until your child has had their baby teeth fall out before visiting an orthodontist, unless the child has a very serious condition like a severe overbite or underbite. The recommendation by the American Association of Orthodontists is to schedule the first visit for a child at approximately seven years old.

What Can I Expect From My Orthodontic Consultation?

During your orthodontic consultation at See Me Smile Dental in Santa Barbara, our friendly staff will perform a thorough oral examination. Imaging - pictures of your teeth and mouth - will also be done to obtain a complete understanding of what is going on with your smile. The imaging methods we will use may include traditional X-rays, digital photos, and advanced 3D imaging techniques.

Our orthodontist will evaluate all of the information collected through the visual exam and imaging to determine the best treatment plan for you or your child. Treatments may include braces, headgear, retainers, and sometimes surgeries for severe cases.

How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Take?

Common orthodontic treatments like metal braces or Invisalign can take several months to a few years to fully complete. Retainers are then used after initial treatment to stabilize and maintain the new oral structure and may be used indefinitely.

What Are Braces and Which Kinds Are Available?

Braces are oral appliances prescribed by your orthodontist to straighten teeth and improve the integrity of your bite. We offer both traditional metal braces and Invisalign clear aligners at See Me Smile Dental in Santa Barbara.

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces have gotten an upgrade in recent years with fashionable, colorful options for brackets and elastics. They can straighten teeth and improve the spacing between the teeth for the best look and improved hygiene.

Affordable, strong and durable, today's modern braces are now customizable. You or your child can select from many colors for the brackets that attach to the teeth and supporting elastics.

What are Invisalign Braces?

Invisalign clear aligners are a wonderful option for teeth straightening for anyone who doesn't want the look of braces. These custom-made clear plastic trays serve to straighten your teeth while being virtually invisible.

What Is a Retainer and Why Do I Need One?

A retainer is a device that is placed in the mouth to maintain its shape. Once you have completed your braces or Invisalign clear aligners regimen, you will be given a custom retainer. (Sometimes, all you might need is a retainer.) The retainer is designed to help stabilize all the work that was done by the braces or clear aligners. You will usually wear the retainer daily for one year after braces and then every night after that.

Modern retainers, like braces, come in a variety of fashionable colors and patterns - so they can be fun and enjoyable to wear.