Am I Too Old For Orthodontic Treatment?

Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought to yourself, “I sure wish I could’ve had braces when I was a kid”? You can’t go back in time, but you can still get the healthy, beautiful smile you’ve always wished for.  It’s not too late! Orthodontic treatment can be as successful for adults as it is for adolescents.  Don’t let your age keep you from consulting with an orthodontist.

Whether you’re 8 or 80, it’s the same physiological process that moves teeth through bone.  Adults have denser bone tissue than children, so treatment may take a little longer, but age does not keep teeth from moving.

Adults can have complicated cases for a variety of reasons.  They may have fillings, missing teeth, misshapen or worn teeth, or dental disease. This is just one reason it’s so important to be treated by an orthodontist. Dr. Hage had years of formal education in orthodontics after graduating from dental school.  Therefore, he has the education and expertise you need to manage your orthodontic care and reach your best possible result.

To move your teeth to their ideal positions, Dr. Hage will use an appliance, braces or aligners, to deliver controlled forces that gently and predictably reposition teeth. There has been a revolution in orthodontic appliances — much of it driven by adults who want to straighten their teeth, but want to be inconspicuous about their treatment.  Today’s options include tooth-colored braces, tiny but more traditional metal braces, braces that go behind the teeth, gold braces and braces that aren’t braces at all.  Not every type of appliance is suitable for correction of every kind of orthodontic problem.  This is another reason to make sure you are being treated by an orthodontist.  They have access to the full range of appliances and more than anyone else in the dental profession, orthodontists know which appliance is right for an individual patient’s care.

Treatment lasts an average of 22 months.  During that time, your visits are scheduled about every six to eight weeks.  It’s a comparatively small investment of time that pays big dividends in improved dental health, better function (biting, chewing), the ability to easily clean your teeth and higher self confidence.

It’s so heartwarming to witness the first time an adult patient sees his/her new smile. The only regret expressed is that the step was not taken sooner.  The opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile has not passed you by.  You don’t have to spend the rest of your life hiding your smile.  Just because you didn’t have orthodontic treatment when you were a youngster doesn’t prevent you from doing something about it now.  Your age doesn’t matter.  You can have the smile you’ve always wanted.  It starts with a consultation with Dr. Hage!




7 Myths About Orthodontic Treatment

Hage Orthodontics wants to set the record straight on seven common myths about orthodontic treatment.


Myth #1:  Anyone who provides braces or aligners is an orthodontist.

FALSE. While some general dentists or online companies offer braces or aligners, only an orthodontist who has taken additional years of advanced training at an accredited residency can call themselves an orthodontic specialist.  It is not worth the risk of permanent damage to your smile to allow anyone who isn’t an orthodontist to attempt to move your teeth.  By selecting Hage Orthodontics, you are choosing a specialist who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile.

Myth #2: Orthodontists are so expensive. 

Orthodontists are unique health care providers who carefully customize their patients’ treatment plans and as a result, their fees directly reflect the complexity of each case.  From simple cases which only take months to treat, to very difficult ones which may take a couple of years, the benefits of having an expert provide your orthodontic care will be well worth it.  Hage Orthodontics offers free consultations and flexible payment plans.  We are willing to work with our patients in order to help them achieve a beautiful smile. Trust your smile to Dr. Hage. He will safely straighten your teeth and closely monitor your progress to ensure that your bite is the best that it can be.

Myth #3: Regular office visits are not necessary to get straight teeth.

No Visits = No Monitoring = No Good

The reality is that the health of your gums, teeth and jaws cannot be monitored during treatment if you are never seen by a qualified orthodontist.  Even the most carefully planned treatments need to be closely monitored to ensure that your treatment stays on course.  These visits must be completed by a trained orthodontist should a problem arise or a mid-course treatment correction be needed.  The good news is that today’s technology has allowed patients to extend intervals between appointments to as long at 8 to 10 weeks.

Myth #4: Orthodontic treatment takes several years.

Orthodontic treatment requires careful, controlled movements of the teeth to ensure they are moving into proper positions. From simple cases (which may only take a few months to treat) to the most complex cases (which could take much longer), Dr. Hage has the training, experience and skill to deliver an excellent result in the shortest amount of time. It’s not worth the risk to have someone who attempts to do orthodontics as a side business because of the possible irreversible damage that could occur.

Myth #5: Orthodontic treatment is purely cosmetic.

There’s much more to orthodontic treatment than meets the eye.  An improved appearance is the most obvious result.  But when the teeth and jaws are in alignment, it means function (biting, chewing, speaking) is improved too.  It’s dual treatment benefit!

That beautiful smile is the outward sign of good oral health, and sets the stage for the patient’s overall well-being.  Orthodontists  play a larger role in healthcare than is generally realized.

Myth #6: Orthodontists only offer metal braces.

Orthodontists spend years of study and training in how teeth move.  It makes them expertly qualified to us the tools available to provide the best care possible for their patients.  That includes metal braces, as well as a full range of other appliances (devices designed to move teeth) that can be fixed or removable, with clear options included. Rather than pressuring a patient into using a particular product or service offered by individual companies, orthodontists are craftsmen with a variety of tools at their fingertips.  Dr. Hage has the expertise to provide the best appliance (at the right time) to achieve the best result in the most timely manner.

Myth #7: Orthodontic treatment is only for kids.

False.  Patients of all ages, young and old, can benefit from orthodontic treatment.  Age is not a concern when it comes to getting a healthy, beautiful smile.  In 2014, close to 1.5 million adults were treated by orthodontists.  Because adults may have more complicated cases from prior dental work or gum disease, it is imperative that their treatment be provided by an orthodontist who has the training, and experience to deliver the best results.

Lastly, the only doctors that can call themselves “orthodontists’ have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.




Have Braces? Never Leave Home Without These 5 Things

If you’ve ever had braces, or been a parent of someone who has, you know braces will transform your smile. You also probably know there can be bumps along the path to that perfectly aligned smile.  From that post-adjustment period, poking wires and broken brackets, having braces isn’t always sunshine and roses. Luckily, we’ve been down this road before, so we’ll help you create your very own braces survival kit.

In order to help you be prepared for whatever may happen while you’re wearing braces, make sure you have these 5 things with you.  It’s important to make sure you have a good guide for techniques to follow in case of minor orthodontic emergencies.


Orthodontic wax is designed to stick to the metal or ceramic parts of your braces. Wax can help shield sensitive areas of your mouth as you get used to having braces or cover a wire that is poking you.  It can also keep a loose bracket from wiggling too much until you can get to the office for a fix up.  To use it, pull off a small piece of wax, roll it up to soften it, then place it over the bracket or wire.   If you need more wax, let us know at your appointment and we’ll give you an ample supply.


Tweezers (clean and sterile) are a must-have in any orthodontic survival kit.  Tweezers can be used to move, push, bend and slide wires into place.  Different shaped tweezers can do different things, so be sure to keep a variety on hand.


If you aren’t able to push, bend or pull a wire back into place using tweezers, you may need to clip the wire if it is causing too much discomfort. The easiest way to do this is to use a pair of nail clippers or a cuticle nipper.  If you can’t see what you’re doing, ask for help.  Most school nurses’ offices are prepared for minor orthodontic emergencies.  Note: make sure the tools are clean, sterile and kept only for the purposes of your orthodontic survival kit!


This may sound obvious, but when you have braces, you’ll never want to leave home without an easy way to floss your teeth. The orthodontic floss picks are portable, easy to use with one hand and don’t require threading. They are specially shaped to fit under an archwire.  You can keep them in a bag, glove box, pocket or anywhere. A floss pick plus a good swish of water can help if you are offered an unexpected snack and do not have a toothbrush handy.


The hours or even days after an orthodontic adjustment can be uncomfortable.  Having a dose of parent-approved over the counter pain reliever is a great idea.  If you are experiencing pain or discomfort that does not go away with a regular dose of OTC pain reliever like Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen, it’s a good idea to speak with your orthodontist or doctor.  Otherwise, a quick pain relief method is just what you need to get your mind off your mouth.

When you get your braces on at Hage Orthodontics, we give you a little bag of orthodontic goodies. You can use this as a place to keep your survival kit.

Do you have braces or have had them in the past?  What did you keep in your survival kit? We’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions in the comments.

Thumb Sucking Solutions


Many parents ask Dr. Hage about their children’s thumb or finger sucking behavior.


Between the ages of two and four, most children stop sucking their thumbs on their own.  It tapers off naturally as children become more active and use their hands for other activities.  Children entering school or play groups may feel peer pressure to stop placing their fingers in their mouth.  However, if your child continues this behavior after the age of four, you should take corrective action as it can cause damage that may require extensive orthodontic treatment to correct.

There are a number of factors that will determine the extent of problems that will result from thumb or finger sucking. The first factor is the intensity of the thumb sucking.  If your child sucks passively, resting the thumb or finger inside the mouth, it is less likely to cause problems.  On the other hand,  if he or she sucks intensely and creates a significant amount of pressure in the mouth, it can lead to problems with tooth alignment and jaw growth.  The second factor is the amount of time your child spends engaging in this activity.  If it is consistent, especially during the day, it is more problematic.

Depending on these factors, there are a number of common problems that result from regular thumb/finger sucking once permanent teeth emerge.  If you see any of the following signs you should schedule a free consultation with Dr. Hage.

  • An overbite, which means the upper front teeth protrude.
  • An open bite, which means there is an opening between the upper and lower front teeth when the back teeth are biting together.
  • A crossbite, which means there is an underdeveloped upper jaw which causes the lower jaw to shift to one side.
  • A recessive or weak chin.  This means the lower jaw is not developing properly.
  • Speech or chewing difficulties may also occur in more pronounced cases.


There is a widespread agreement that a positive approach is the best way to overcome this habit.  It will allow your child to build confidence and take pride in their accomplishment.  A negative approach will unlikely work and may even worsen the situation.  Even so, you should gently explain the consequences.  Here are some suggestions that you can implement, on your own to help your child.

  • Painting or smearing a bad tasting substance, such as Mavala on the thumb or finger.  It stops the habit very quickly in most children.
  • If you notice your child engaging in the habit because they are tired or hungry, try to resolve the particular situation rather than focusing on the thumb sucking behavior.
  • Take note of the particular times your child tends to thumb suck.  Such as riding in the car or watching television and then attempt to create distractions during this time.
  • If the the finger or thumb sucking occurs primarily when the child is engaged in a secondary habit, such as holding a security blanket or stuffed animal or twirling hair, it is a good idea to correct both habits at the same time. If you get control of the secondary habit, often times the thumb sucking will stop or greatly reduce on its own.
  • Start a progress chart and have your child place a sticker on the chart each day he/she is successful at avoiding their thumb/finger. Explain that if they go for an extended period of time without the habit, they will be able to choose a prize from a list you create together.
  • Place a bandage around your child’s finger or a sock on their hand at night.  Just let them know this is not a punishment, but rather a method to help them avoid the thumb/finger habit.


If none of the above solutions help and your child’s permanent teeth begin to emerge, it may be time to seek the help of an orthodontist.  One common solution is a device called a “fixed palatal crib”.  Also referred to as a tongue crib.  It is essentially a small appliance that is placed on the upper teeth and the roof of the mouth.  It is almost invisible to outside observers. The crib is very effective and usually stops the thumb/finger habit very quickly because it removes the enjoyment.  The crib prevents the thumb or finger from touching the gums behind the front teeth.  Try to remember your child likely gets a substantial amount of comfort and security from this behavior so he is likely to be restless, unhappy and uncomfortable after the crib is inserted.  You can alleviate this by providing the child with extra affection and attention while he adjusts to the new orthodontic appliance.

If you feel your child needs orthodontic help with his thumb/finger habit, you should call for a free consultation with Dr. Hage.

When Do I Get My Braces Off?

The first thing our patients want to know when they get their braces on is when those braces will come off.  In other words, “When will I have that beautiful smile I’ve always wanted?”  Braces can be a pain, literally! We don’t want to endure them any longer than we have to, but that smile will be worth it, so be patient.

Most likely you’ve already been given an estimate about how long it will take to straighten your teeth.   Each patient is different because we all come to the orthodontist with different problems with our teeth or our bite.  There are three primary steps orthodontists take to give you the smile you want.

 3 Steps to Straightening Your Teeth

Resolving crowding/spacing

  • Your orthodontist may need to take steps to make room for the teeth to be aligned.  The decision of how to do this is based on the size of the teeth, jaw and other factors.
  • If spacing is the problem, your orthodontist will take steps to close space or gaps between your teeth.
  • Aligning or straightening your teeth
  • Your orthodontist will use wires, springs, rubber bands and other methods to turn the teeth into their desired position.

Aligning or straightening the teeth 

  • Your orthodontist will use wires, springs, rubber bands and other methods to turn the teeth to their desired position.
  • This may require removal and re-positioning of individual brackets because they may not be able to be put in the correct position in the beginning.

Correcting the bite

  • Your orthodontist will make sure your upper teeth fit correctly with the lower teeth.  Many people have over-bites (when the upper teeth are out too far) or under-bites (when the lower teeth are out too far) or cross-bites (side-to-side).
  • This is accomplished with wires and rubber bands until the bite is correct. When the backs of the top teeth rest lightly on the fronts of the bottom teeth.

Patients tend to become impatient during the third stage of the process because things are starting to look good.  They can see their new smile coming through.  At this point, most people begin to feel that enough is enough and they’re ready to leave their braces behind.  However, there are still many details that will need to be taken care of to make your smile perfect. After all, this is what you’re paying for, right?

What to Look for in the Mirror

Here are some questions to ask yourself so you know whether you’re close to getting your braces off:

  1. Are your teeth straight?
  2. Are the spaces between your teeth completely closed?
  3. Do the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth appropriately?
  4. Is the over bite or under bite corrected?

Be patient and let it happen as your orthodontist sees fit.  You’ll have your new, healthy and stable smile in no time.

Consult Dr. Hage to find out approximately how long it will take for you to get the smile you’ve always wanted!  Visit our website or call our office to schedule a consultation.

The Importance of Lifetime Retainer Wear

When you finish your orthodontic treatment, you are excited to be free of the appliances  you’ve had to put up with — brackets, wires, aligners, and so on.  However, while it is certainly important to revel in the freedom of your new smile, equally important is taking the necessary action to retain it.  That comes down to one word — retainers.

After completing orthodontic treatment under the care of Dr. Michael Hage, you will be prescribed a retainer that will be custom-made to fit your smile.  You will receive instructions for how and when to wear these retainers.

It is recommended that you continue wearing your retainers regularly throughout your lifetime.

Ongoing Shifts

Over time your teeth will start to shift toward their original positions.  This is because your gum fibers will slowly, but consistently try to pull your teeth back to where they once were.  Additionally, as you age your facial skeletal structure changes and your teeth experience natural wear.  As a result, the perfectly straight smile you leave the orthodontist with could become unstraightened over time, your teeth becoming the victim to a crowding relapse.

Retention Case Study

The University of Washington conducted a case study in which former orthodontic patients were studied for 10-20 years after completing their orthodontic treatment.  These results — without fail, no matter what type of orthodontic treatment the patients underwent (braces, extractions, Invisalign, etc.) they all experienced an orthodontic relapse.  In other words, their teeth moved.  How straight their smiles remained was directly related to their retainer wear.

When to Wear

For the first three (3) days after your braces are removed, Dr. Hage advises the retainers be worn full time (except while eating or drinking.)  After three days, both retainers should be worn at night while sleeping.  If you’re not comfortable wearing your retainers while sleeping, find a time throughout the day when you can wear them for 6 hours.

Types of Retainers

  • Essix Retainers, made of clear plastic (they look like Invisalign aligners)
  • Permanent Retainers, which are glued to the back of your teeth.
  • Hawley Retainers, made of metal and acrylic

A Lifetime of Straight Smiles

As your trusted Effingham, Decatur and Mattoon orthodontist, Dr. Michael Hage is dedicated to helping you attain a straight, beautiful smile.  Once that’s done, we encourage you to take pride in your smile by doing your part to maintain it throughout the rest of your life.  Wear your retainer(s) as often as  you can and your teeth will be less likely to shift back to their old positions.  For more information about retainers or orthodontic treatment in general, contact Hage Orthodontics at our Effingham, Decatur or Mattoon office!