What a difference straight teeth can make! A great-looking smile can boost your self-confidence and have a positive impact on social and professional opportunities. Orthodontic treatment is the original smile makeover tool — and you will be happy to know that you're never too old to take advantage of it. But it isn't all about looks: Properly aligned teeth help you to bite, chew and even speak more effectively. They are also easier to clean, which helps keep your mouth free of tooth decay and gum disease.

The amazing thing about orthodontics is that it harnesses the body's natural ability to remodel its own tissue. With the application of light, constant force, orthodontic appliances gently reshape bone and move teeth into better positions. Some examples of these appliances are traditional metal braces, inconspicuous clear or tooth-colored braces, and clear aligners, a relatively new option for adults and teens.

Bite Problems and How to Fix Them

Orthodontic Problems.

Orthodontic treatment can resolve a number of bite problems, which often become evident by around age 7. These include underbite, crossbite or excessive overbite, where upper and lower teeth don't close in the proper position; open bite, where a space remains between top and bottom teeth when the jaws are closed; and crowding or excessive spacing, where teeth are spaced too close together or too far apart.

To correct bite problems, teeth need to be moved — but doing that isn't as hard as you might think! Teeth aren't fixed rigidly in their supporting bone; instead, they're held in place by a hammock-like structure called the periodontal ligament, which is very responsive to forces placed on the teeth. Orthodontic appliances move teeth by careful application of light, constant pressure. This force can be applied via metal wires that run through small brackets attached to the teeth (braces), or via the semi-rigid plastic of clear aligners.

Orthodontics is for Children — and Adults

Having orthodontic treatment in childhood is ideal in order to take advantage of a youngster's natural growth processes to help move the teeth into proper alignment. Like the rest of the body, the teeth and jaws are now changing rapidly. So at this time it's possible (for example) to create more room for teeth in a crowded mouth by using a “palatal expander” to rapidly widen the upper jaw. This phase of growth modification can shorten overall treatment time and ensure the best result if additional orthodontic appliances are needed.

Adult Orthodontics

But remember, healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so you've never “missed the boat” for orthodontic treatment. In fact, about one in five of today's orthodontic patients is an adult. Several new technological developments — including tooth-colored ceramic braces, clear aligners and invisible lingual braces — have made orthodontic appliances less evident, and enhanced the treatment experience for grown-ups. Before treatment, adults are carefully examined for signs of periodontal (gum) disease, which will be brought under control before treatment begins.

Types of Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontic Appliance Options.

When you imagine someone wearing braces, you probably picture small metal brackets bonded to the front of the teeth, with a thin wire running through them. This time-tested style remains very popular — but it's no longer the only option. Clear braces use brackets made of ceramic or plastic which, except for the slim archwire, are hardly visible. Lingual braces are just like traditional metal braces — except they're bonded to the back of your teeth (the tongue side) so that no one can see them.

Removable clear aligners are an alternative to fixed orthodontic appliances. They consist of a series of clear plastic “trays” that fit over your teeth exactly; each one moves your teeth a little bit, until they are in the proper position. Whether fixed or removable, each type of appliance may have advantages or disadvantages in particular situations. After a complete examination, the best treatment options for you will be discussed.

Retention & Post Orthodontic Care

Once your orthodontic treatment is completed, it's extremely important to wear a retainer as directed. That's because teeth naturally tend to drift back to their original locations — which is the last thing you want after you've gone to the trouble of straightening them! Wearing a retainer holds your teeth in their new position long enough for new bone and ligament to re-form around them, and helps keep your gorgeous new smile looking good for a lifetime.

Related Articles

Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Magic of Orthodontics Proper alignment of the teeth is basic to “Smile Design.” Their position dictates how they work together and affects the way you look and smile. Only orthodontic treatment can move teeth into the right position. Simply put, when things look right, they probably are right. Learn the basics of smile analysis and design and whether the magic of orthodontics will work for you... Read Article

Adult Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

Orthodontics for the Older Adult Healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so there's no such thing as “too old” for braces. In fact, nowadays about one out of every five orthodontic patients is an adult. Yet this figure represents only a small portion of adults who could actually benefit from orthodontic treatment... Read Article

Clear Aligners for Teens - Dear Doctor Magazine

Clear Aligners for Teenagers Teens who regard traditional braces as restrictive, confining, and obstructive to their lifestyles now have another choice for orthodontic treatment: clear aligners. This advanced dental technology, originally geared toward adults, has recently evolved to treat a greater variety of bite problems in younger people. These improved orthodontic appliances can help teens function normally during a difficult phase of life... Read Article

  • Invisalign for Adults

    When you hear the word “orthodontics,” what comes to mind? Probably a young teenager whose teeth are covered by a latticework of metal. There are indeed many orthodontic patients who fit that description. However, there now exists an increasingly popular alternative to traditional metal braces: Invisalign®

    Read more
  • Invisalign for Teens

    There's a new technology that's (literally) putting a smile on plenty of young faces: A system of clear, removable aligners made especially for teens called Invisalign Teen®! If you (or a teenager you know) are a candidate for this treatment, you might find it's the best fit for your lifestyle: It lets

    Read more
  • Orthodontic FAQs

    What do orthodontists do? Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose and treat problems with the position, alignment or spacing of the teeth, and related irregularities in the face and the jaw. A number of special treatments, including braces and other oral appliances, are used to correct these

    Read more
  • Post-Orthodontic Care

    One day in the not-too-distant future, your braces will come off. In a few moments, you'll be free of bands and brackets, able to eat what you want and run your tongue over smooth, clean teeth. But, even on this happy occasion, please remember that you're not quite done with orthodontic treatment yet:

    Read more
  • Brushing & Flossing with Braces

    You know how important it is to brush and floss properly when you're wearing braces — but what's the best way to do that? Let's start with the basic brushing tools: Either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush (one that has shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges) can be

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  • Adult Orthodontic Treatment

    There are more and more adult orthodontic patients these days, and it's not hard to figure out why. Appliances that are barely noticeable have been developed to give adults more discreet choices when it comes to orthodontic treatment. And many adults realize that investing in a smile makeover can have

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  • Your First Orthodontic Appointment

    Your first appointment is an exciting time! It's a chance for you to learn about the treatments and services that can help give you the best smile possible. It all starts with the initial consultation. You should plan to spend at least an hour at the first visit. That's to ensure that no one has to

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  • Types of Braces

    For the vast majority of orthodontic patients, wearing fixed appliances (commonly called braces) will be a major part of treatment — and those braces, for the most part, will be the familiar silvery-metal type. But while they're still quite popular, traditional-looking metal braces are no longer the

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  • Orthodontic Emergencies

    At first, having orthodontic treatment may take a little getting used to. It isn't uncommon to experience a bit of soreness when appliances are first put on, or some minor aches as teeth begin moving into new positions. Yet it's comforting to know that genuine orthodontic emergencies are rare. If you

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  • Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADS)

    Every so often, in dentistry and other fields, a new technology comes along that promises to change the standard practices. TADS (Temporary Anchorage Devices) aren't exactly new — orthodontists have used them since the 1980s — but they're gaining widespread acceptance today. The benefits they offer

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  • Thumb & Finger Appliances

    Is there any image that illustrates the comforts of babyhood better than a sleepy infant sucking his or her thumb? Ultrasound pictures have shown, to the joy of many prospective parents, that this behavior can even occur in the womb. The thumb- or finger-sucking habit seems to relax and comfort toddlers

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  • Orthodontics & Dental Hygiene

    You already know that maintaining good oral hygiene is important for everyone — but when you're having orthodontic treatment, it's even more critical. Why? Because, while the appliances (such as braces or clear aligners) you may need to wear during treatment are very effective in correcting misaligned

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  • Early Orthodontic Treatment

    You probably know that it's never too late to begin orthodontic treatment — but when it comes to your youngster's teeth, did you know that earlier may be better than later? According to the American Association of Orthodontists, kids should have an initial orthodontic screening at age 7. What makes

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  • Orthodontic Headgear

    Sometimes, braces alone aren't enough to move teeth into a better position, or to correct trouble with the bite or remedy problems in the growth of the jaws. In those situations, special appliances may be recommended. Orthodontic headgear is the general name for an appliance, worn partly outside the

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  • Adolescent Orthodontic Care

    For many teens, braces are a rite of passage: They're one more example of the changes adolescents go through at this time — along with growth in stature, edgier tastes in clothes and music, and an increasing degree of self-awareness. But is there any particular reason why orthodontic appliances and

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  • "Dr Steve Manson... Superb! Janese... Top notch manager

    Jan 14, 2016 5/5 stars"
    - Morison, Jacqueline
  • "best dentist in town, very modern.

    Dec 27, 2015 5/5 Stars"
    -Toure, Elhadji
  • "The stairs will become more difficult as I age.

    Nov 5, 2015"
    - Hogan, Debra
  • "great dentist great secretary most important his treatment is outstanding. special treatment who have fear!!

    Oct 22, 2015 5/5 Stars"
    - Scime, Rose
  • "There was time between appointments.. You don't feel that the doctor has no time for you. Dr Manson has time for your individual needs... What a great man!

    Aug 27, 2015 5/5 Stars"
    - Morison, Jacqueline
  • "The visit was with staff that was friendly and professional.
    June 27, 2015 5/5 Stars"
    - McEvoy, Joe
  • "Professional staff, make you feel comfortable as you can be in the dental chair. Any questions you have are always answered & explained to the fullest. Taken for your appt. on time.

    Jun 25, 2015 5/5 Stars"
    - Phelps, Ruth
  • "Dr Steve Manson exceeds the standards of excellence in dentistry. We need another ten more of Dr Steve around New York City.

    May 21, 2015 5/5 Stars"
    - Morison, Jacqueline
  • "The Staff is wonderful. Dr. Manson is the best Dentist I ever went to. Does excellent work, and NO PAIN... Hes mine forever. I tell everyone I know to only go to him...He is a professional in every way. 5 STARS ALL THE WAY!!!

    May 8, 2015 5/5 Stars"
    - scime, Rose
  • "I was treated by staff and colleagues very well.

    June 27, 2015 5/5 Stars"
    - Rywak, Tamara
  • "Always feel confident I am getting the best advice possible on any dental situation.

    Mar 24, 2015 4/5 Stars"
    - Phelps, Ruth
  • "You guys are awesome!!!
    Aug 5, 2014 5/5 Stars"
    - Antoian, Kerrianne
  • "Besides being a great dentist, Dr. Manson is kind and caring.

    Jul 2, 2014 5/5 Stars"
    - Immordino, Rosary
  • "Fantastic dentist; been going to him for 15 years. Very nice and professional receptionist/assistant. Dr. Manson is the best of all professionals: he is meticulous, extremely skilled and has a warm but focused manner. The best old school professionalism with state-of-the art dental care.

    Jun 20, 2014 5/5 stars"
    - DiLeo, Leslie
  • "the office is run in a very professional manner. No changes are really needed.

    Jun 17, 2014 5/5 Stars"
    - Daly, William
  • "As always Dr. Manson and his assistant Janice are excellent. I travel from eastern Long Island because they are excellent! I have been a patient for approximately 40 years.

    June 12, 2014 5/5 Stars"
    - Tavano, Claudia
  • "Fantastic office. Fantastic work.

    Jun 11, 2014 5/5 stars"
    - Rusin, Ruza
  • "Janice is excellent!!!!!!

    May 6, 2014 5/5 Stars"
    -Tavano, Lawrence
  • "ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL!

    Apr 24, 2014 5/5 stars"
    - Mushorn, William
  • "Janiece is a wonderful addition to Dr. Manson's practice. She is so helpful and wonderful with a calm demeanor. Perfect hire Dr. Steve!

    Apr 21, 2014 5/5 Stars"
    - Duffy, Robin
  • "No issues. Dr. Manson seemed very knowledgeable and I really appreciated his hands on approach.

    Apr 8, 2014 5/5 Stars"
    - Lodato, Anthony
  • "Dr. Manson was thorough, gentle and very understanding. Would absolutely recommend!"
    - Ikeguchi, Jennifer
  • "Don't change a thing...continue to do the excellent job and service I receive every three months.

    Mar 18, 2014 5/5 stars"
    - Morison, Jacqueline
  • "A fast thorough no nonsense cleaning procedure performed in a pleasant friendly manner.

    Mar 11, 2014 5/5 Stars"
    - Chu Mun, Donald
  • "No pain! Janice is great!

    1/19/2014"
    – K. Dicicco 5/5 Star
  • "PAINLESS....FOR ME....THAT SAYS IT ALL.!

    11/12/2013"
    - B. Mushorn 5/5 Stars
  • "Caring, efficient, meticulous, professional. What more do you want?

    11/6/2013"
    – D.Chu Mun 5/5 Star
  • "I have been going to Dr. Manson's office for 30 years. Starting with his Dad and then moving on to Dr. Steven Manson who is wonderful! I was someone who avoided dentists for many many years because i was fearful but if you do have that fear he will put you completely at ease. I know for a fact that had i not started when i did with him I would more than likely not have a tooth left in my head. I have very soft teeth with lots of decay from bad eating habits and he has fixed them all just perfectly. I do believe my fear came from having teeth pulled which didn't really have to be at a young age so just give him a try, just once, and your fears will be settled. You should also know I do not write reviews normally and that is how strongly i feel you will be happy with this choice. Good Luck and You're Welcome :)

    11/6/2013"
    – Anonymous 5/5 Star
  • "DR. Manson is highly skilled, caring and professional with an excellent staff that makes a trip to the dentist a pleasant experience. If you're looking for a great dentist in Long Island City- he's your man!

    10/13/2013"
    N. Ricci 5/5 Star
  • "Competent, caring, gentle, friendly. What more could you want?

    10/11/2013"
    – Immordino, R. 5/5 Sta
  • "I started going there with Dr. Roy Manson and when he retired I now see his son, Steven. They have been the most concerned about caring for you and not causing you any pain which other dentists did cause a great deal of pain in my youth. Very knowledgeable and always trying new and better methods of dentistry. I didn't have to wait long this time either which is a BIG plus.

    10/3/2013"
    - B. Trazino 5/5 Star
  • "Dr. Manson is a wonderful dentist that I have been going to for years and would highly recommend him…

    9/26/2013"
    – Costello, M. 5/5 Star
  • "Dr. Manson and his staff are extremely professional. I feel very confident at having my dental health in their care. Typically, my latest visit was a pleasant experience. My cleaning was performed successfully and efficiently.

    9/22/2013"
    – Daly, W. 5/5 Star
  • "Awesome

    8/23/2013"
    – Cheffolway, L. 5/5 Star
  • "The best dentist in all of the city, been going to Dr. Manson for 20+ years, he is kind, gentle and just an amazing dentist.

    8/23/2013"
    - R. Michele Marigliano 5/5 Star
  • "Dr. Manson is probably one of the BEST dentists in the area. Other then the fact that my entire family goes to him he really DOES care about his patients and his work (something that is hard to find these days.)

    8/21/2013"
    -– Anonymous 5/5 Stars
  • "As always the care was tops!

    7/27/2013"
    –Tavano, C. 5/5 Stars
  • "Every time I leave Dr. Manson's office (and it's been well over ten years since I first saw him), I think "what a fantastic dentist." He is skilled and meticulous in his work and senstitive to the patient's comfort. He makes smart use of the latest dental technology, and he is old-fashioned in the best sense of that description: focusing on quality care for the patient.

    7/5/2013"
    – Dileo, L. 5/5 Stars
  • "Another great and gentle dental experience with Dr. Manson!

    6/26/2013"
    – Anonymous 5/5 Stars
  • "Dr. Manson is the greatest. Puts you at ease and has hands of a surgeon.

    6/1/2013"
    – R. Motta 5/5 Stars
  • "Dr Manson is an excellent doctor.

    5/13/2013"
    – R. Tavano 5/5 Stars
  • "I have been a patient of Dr. Manson's for nearly thirty years, and would recommend him to anyone interested in receiving excellent dentistry without pain or stress.

    5/6/2013"
    – R. Owsley 5/5 Stars
  • "I always feel comfortable with Doctor Manson and i always get praise on my teeth and i said Thanks to Dr. Manson

    5/6/2013"
    – R. Cavaliere 5/5 Stars
  • "Dr. Manson is on my opinion the "Best Dentist" in New York. I have been a patient of Dr Manson fit over 25 years and would recommend him to everyone. As a Dentist he makes his patient feel at home and relaxed. Everyone in the office will make your visit as comfortable as you can be.

    5/1/2013"
    – R. Hidalgo 5/5 Stars