If my front teeth are straight, why should I be concerned about how my teeth fit together?

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Things are not always as they appear. We all know people who from the outside look healthy, but who internally are battling a chronic illness. Likewise, you may be interested to learn that even if your front teeth are straight, there can be a problem with how all your teeth fit together – a problem that can be bad for your overall oral health.

When the Bite’s Not Right

Think about gears. Their “teeth” are engineered to fit together in a specific way to perform a specific task. If they don’t fit together in the right way, the gears can’t do their jobs. It’s the same with your teeth. Upper and lower teeth are meant to fit in a certain way with their counterparts in the opposite jaw. If the fit is off, the bite is not right – even if the front teeth look straight. If the bad bite is not corrected, the stage is being set for potential problems.

The Goal of Orthodontic Treatment

The true goal of orthodontic treatment is to create a healthy bite so you can bite and chew food efficiently and comfortably. Teeth that work better tend to look better too. The beautiful smile is a pleasant side effect of treatment.

A healthy bite is achieved by repositioning teeth within the jaw bones, and ensuring they meet as intended to allow for biting and chewing.

The following bite problems can be difficult to see because often times the front teeth are straight:

  • An underbite (or anterior crossbite) – when the top teeth are positioned behind the bottom teeth
  • An open bite – when the back teeth are closed, but the front teeth don’t meet, or when the front teeth meet, but the back teeth don’t touch
  • A deep bite – when top teeth completely cover the bottom teeth
  • A crossbite – when the bottom teeth are outside of the top teeth

If an improper bite is not treated, problems develop. Premature wear of teeth and chipping of teeth is a very common problem. Jaw joint problems can develop. There is a higher risk of cavities. All of this can make it difficult to eat and talk.

The good news is there is a way to check your bite and ensure none of this happens to you. Having a healthy bite applies to all of your teeth, not just the few front teeth people see when you smile. Check your bite, or your child’s, by consulting Dr. Hage at Hage Orthodontics for a free consultation.

When you choose Hage Orthodontics for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile.

Hage Orthodontics has 3 conveniently located offices in Mattoon, Effingham and Decatur.  Call us today!

Does my child need to wait until they have all of their permanent teeth to see an orthodontist?

If someone tells you that your child should have all of his/her permanent teeth before visiting the orthodontist for the first time, that “someone” is incorrect.  In fact, putting off the first visit to the orthodontist until all of your child’s permanent teeth are in could do more harm than good. Here’s why:

There’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.

A child’s mouth is a busy place.  Think about a 6 year old.  Everything is growing, including bones in the jaw and face.  At around age 6, the first permanent molars appear.  An exchange of teeth begins as baby teeth fall out and are replaced by larger-sized permanent teeth.  And it all happens in a predictable, particular order. Unless it doesn’t.

The gums hide about two-thirds of each tooth, as well as all the bone that hold teeth in place.  The gums can mask conditions that interfere with the emergence of teeth.

Parents can watch for clues.  Early or late loss of baby teeth can signal a problem.  So can trouble with chewing and biting, speech difficulties and mouth-breathing.  If these indicators are not addressed until a child has all of his/her permanent teeth and growth is essentially complete, correcting the problem may be more difficult than it might have been had treatment occurred earlier.

Orthodontic treatment is about creating a healthy bite – the beautiful smile is a bonus. 

The goal of orthodontic treatment is to make sure the bite is right — that the upper and lower teeth fit together like interlocking gears.  The timing of your child’s treatment is critical and is based on his/her individual needs.

Some children can wait until they have all or most of their permanent teeth. Other children’s orthodontic problems may be better treated while some baby teeth are present.  These children require growth guidance of bones in the upper and lower jaws, so there’s enough room for permanent teeth. Their treatment can be timed to predictable stages of dental development and physical growth. Once teeth and jaws are in alignment, a beautiful smile is the bonus result of treatment.

Dentists and orthodontists look at the mouth differently.  

Both doctors work in the mouth.  But perspectives differ based on the care they provide.

Dentists assess and promote overall oral health.  They look for cavities and gum disease. They advise patients on diet and home hygiene care.  And they monitor patients for diseases that appear in or affect the mouth.   Dentists take “bite wing” x-rays to isolate a particular section of the teeth as part of their diagnosis and treatment planning process. Orthodontic evaluations may be a lower priority for dentists.

Orthodontists are laser-focused on each patient’s bite.  Orthodontists use “panoramic” x-rays to visualize all of the teeth above and below the gums, and the jaws, all at once.  The bite is the orthodontists’ area of specialization.

If your dentist has not referred your child to an orthodontist, you need not wait for a referral.  Orthodontists do not require a referral for your child to be seen.

Here’s what the experts say: remember age 7.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children have their first visit with an orthodontist no later than age 7.  If a problem is detected and treatment is advised, you are giving the orthodontist the opportunity to provide your child with the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.

To answer the question that headlines this blog, there’s no need to wait until your child has lost all his/her baby teeth before you consult an orthodontist. It’s fine to talk to an orthodontist as soon as you suspect a problem in your child, even if your child is younger than 7.  Dr. Hage offers a free initial consultation.  And adults — there is no time like the present to talk to Dr. Hage about getting the smile you’ve always wanted. Call us today!

Hage Orthodontics has 3 conveniently located offices in Mattoon, Effingham and Decatur.

6 Facts Parents Should Know About Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment

Problems that will eventually need orthodontic attention can become obvious long before your child has all of their permanent teeth. Depending on the type of problem a child has, Dr. Hage may recommend two-phase treatment. It means that treatment is done at two different times, often to take advantage of predictable stages of dental development and physical growth. Here are six things parents should know about two-phase orthodontic treatment.

1. Two-phase orthodontic treatment is for kids, but it’s not for all kids.

Most orthodontic problems can be treated in one phase of comprehensive treatment, however there are a few exceptions.

2. Two-phase orthodontic treatment can be used to:

Help the jaws develop to ensure adequate space for all of the permanent teeth, especially the permanent canines.

  • May reduce the need to extract permanent teeth in the future.
  • Some problems that can be treated quite well in a growing child but may require corrective surgery if treatment occurs after growth ends.
  • Normalize the relationship of the upper jaw to the lower jaw, especially in the case of an underbite.
  • Intervene in a child’s prolonged sucking or abnormal swallowing.
  • Damaging pressure can move teeth in the wrong directions and/or change the shape of the bone that supports teeth.
  • Tuck in upper front teeth that stick out to reduce the risk of those teeth being broken or knocked out.

3. Moving baby teeth is not done for the sake of their appearance.

While baby teeth can move during Phase One orthodontic treatment, their movement is part of the process to ensure sufficient space for permanent teeth.

4. Phase One of a two-phase orthodontic treatment begins when a child still has some baby teeth.

If an appliance is used in Phase One care, it could be a form of braces or another fixed appliance, or could be a removable appliance. The type of appliance used depends on the needs of the individual patient.

  • Some children may need to have baby teeth removed to clear a path for the permanent teeth to come.

5. A resting period follows Phase One orthodontic treatment.

6. Phase Two of orthodontic treatment usually begins when most or all of permanent teeth are in.

The goal of Phase Two treatment is to make sure teeth are in their proper places for good function, a healthy bite and a pleasing appearance.

Give your child the best chance at a healthy, beautiful smile. Follow Dr. Hage’s recommendation that all children have their first check-up no later than age 9. If an orthodontic problem is developing he will be able to monitor growth and development so that your child can have the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.

Visit Dr. Hage in Mattoon, Effingham or Decatur, Illinois.  He offers initial consultations at no cost. No referral needed!

When you choose Hage Orthodontics for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a true orthodontist. Like their medical counterparts who study their specialty areas after their general medical education, orthodontists study their specialty area, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, after completing their general dental education.

5 Orthodontic Treatment Issues You Can Fix at Home

If you’ve damaged your braces, you might not need to schedule a special appointment with Dr. Hage.  Many issues that come up during orthodontic treatment can be resolved at home with wax, tweezers and nail clippers.

Continue reading to learn how to resolve tooth pain, cheek irritation, broken brackets, and more. Our staff is always available to answer any questions you might have between appointments.


Tooth Pain after Adjustments

During the course of treatment, we’ll make slight adjustments to your braces to ensure your teeth and jaws move into optimal alignment.

Since dental braces exert pressure on your teeth, you will feel slight pain or discomfort several hours after your appointment.  We recommend taking over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Ibuprofen) right before your appointment.  That way, the pain reliever has a chance to work before we adjust your braces.  It is also a good idea to eat soft foods after your appointment, such as mashed potatoes, pasta, etc.


Irritated Lips and Cheeks

After getting braces initially, we’ll give you some wax in case the brackets irritate your lips and cheeks.  Simply pinch a pea sized piece of wax and squeeze it between your fingers to soften it.  Next, gently push the wax on the top of the offending bracket.  Many of our patients use wax before meals to avoid irritating the soft tissue while eating.  Since wax isn’t medicated, it’s harmless if accidentally swallowed.


Loose or Missing Elastic Ties

During orthodontic treatment, you’ll need to avoid sticky foods such as caramel.  Otherwise, the small elastic ties that hold the arch wire in place can come loose or fall completely off their brackets.  We recommend using tweezers to slide the elastic tie back onto the corners of the bracket, if you cannot get the tie back on with the tweezers, contact our office.


Loose Brackets

If you play contact sports, let us know so we can give you a mouth guard.  A mouth guard for braces forms a protective layer around your teeth so you won’t need dental attention the next time you’re tackled on the field.  A bracket can also come loose after biting into hard foods, like whole apples and carrots, so try to avoid hard foods and candies.

Most patients don’t realize that a bracket is loose until they go to brush their teeth and notice that the bracket is off-center on the tooth.

If a bracket comes loose between appointments, you’ll need to schedule an appointment to have it replaced, or if you’re next appointment is in the upcoming week or so, we’ll just repair it at that appointment.  In the meantime, use tweezers or your fingers to slide the bracket into its proper place.


Protruding Wires

If you have a wire protruding off the end of your last bracket, use a small nail clipper to try to trim the excess. We recommend using a folded tissue to isolate the piece of wire from your gums before trimming. If the excess wire isn’t long enough to trim, place a pea sized piece of wax between the wire and your cheek.

Hage Orthodontics is dedicated to helping you achieve your best smile with braces. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Hage call 217-234-4734 or 217-347-5576.

What Causes Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth affect millions of people all over the globe and can be the bane of teenagers and adults alike.  But why do teeth become crooked – and if they start to head off in different directions what can be done about it?


There are many reasons why teeth can become crooked throughout the different stages of our lives.  Here are some of the most common causes:


Genetics can have a big impact on your chances of inheriting misaligned teeth or jaws, and if your parents  have crooked teeth there’s a strong possibility that you might too.  A small jaw can also increase your risk of crowded teeth, simply due to lack of space.


The early loss of both adult and baby teeth can affect the position of your remaining teeth, causing them to drift into available gaps.  Sometimes baby teeth can be replaced by larger adult teeth that overlap and crowd together due to limited space.


Ill fitting dental restorations such as crowns and bridges can occasionally put pressure on teeth and cause them to move.  They can also affect the way your teeth bite together.  If you start to experience any problems as a result of a restoration get in touch with your dentist as soon as you can.


Habits such as thumb sucking put pressure on your teeth (much like braces) – forcing them to move into a different position. Typically thumb sucking will result in an open bite (pictured) and you’ll have a gap where the upper and lower teeth don’t bite together.


Any problems with your gums such as injury or disease can eventually impact your teeth. Gum disease can cause teeth to become loose and change their alignment as well as your bite.


Time can also take its toll on the position of your teeth. As we age our teeth can have an unfortunate tendency to drift forward and become more crowded.  Contrary to popular belief your wisdom teeth are not to blame.  The real cause is your jaw bone, which looses density over the years and changes shape, encouraging teeth to crowd towards the front of your mouth.


If you suffer an injury to your face the force could cause your teeth to move and become misaligned. A trauma could also affect the position of your jaw or damage your gums, which in turn could cause your teeth to shift.  To reduce the risk of a trauma to your teeth, we advise our patients to wear a mouthguard (pictured) during contact sports such as football or hockey.


Among orthodontic patients, the biggest cause of reoccurring crowding (orthodontic relapse) is undoubtedly the absence of retainers.  For as long as you want your teeth to stay straight after wearing braces, you will need to follow your orthodontists’ instructions and wear your fixed or removable retainer.


Thankfully, whatever the cause of your crooked teeth, there is a solution. Braces are a very effective way to straighten wayward teeth.  If you wear your retainers regularly, your teeth will remain straight for many, many years.

To find out more, browse our website, or, if you’re ready to take the next step, get in touch with us to arrange a free consultation.

How Braces Are Made

If you are thinking about getting braces or already have them, you are probably curious about what braces are actually made of and how they work.  The three most popular ways to straighten teeth are traditional (metal) braces, ceramic braces and Invisalign.  Each of these are made differently and work in different ways to straighten teeth.

Traditional Braces

These are made of titanium or high quality stainless steel and are composed of three parts:

  • Brackets (either traditional or passive self-ligation systems)- the brackets are metal and are placed directly on the teeth using special glue.  Traditional brackets have a place for the elastic tie to be wrapped around them.  Passive self-ligation systems are brackets that use “sliding door” technology, allowing the wire to move as needed instead of being tied with an elastic tie.
  • Archwire – the archwire is also made of metal and is a thin wire connecting the brackets together.  The wire puts pressure on the teeth, which gradually guides them into the desired position.
  • Elastic ties – these elastic ties are wrapped around the traditional brackets to keep the wire in place.  They come in a variety of colors that you can choose from and are changed each time you have an orthodontic appointment.

Ceramic or Clear Braces

These brackets are made from non-porous alumina compounds, rather than metal.  They are either clear or a color that closely matches your tooth color and are bonded (glued) to the teeth.  They still utilize a metal archwire and elastic ties, but the archwire is “frosted” with white to blend in more closely with the color of your teeth and brackets. The elastic ties would normally be clear.

These braces work in the same way as traditional braces, although some orthodontists warn that they can take a bit longer than metal braces.  Ceramic braces require a little more care to keep clean.


These are clear, plastic aligner trays that are produced for each individual based off of an impression(model) of the patient’s mouth.  The orthodontist will take photos and an impression to send to Invisalign.  Aligner trays have to be changed frequently; every seven days on average.

Now that you know all the ways to straighten teeth and how they are made, contact us at Hage Orthodontics to set up a consultation where we can help you decide which method is best for you!