About the Expert
Dr. Kimberly Gronberg graduated from Baylor University with a biology degree. She earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery at the Baylor College of Dentistry and completed a 27-month residency at the prestigious Department of Orthodontics at Baylor. She has served in executive positions in various orthodontic associations, locally and nationally, and has taught in the orthodontic program at Baylor College of Dentistry.
What are some advancements in orthodontics over the last decade?
One of the greatest advancements in the last several years has been 3D X-rays and imaging. Our office has the capability to take 3D X-rays so we can see the exact position of teeth in the bone, allowing us to effectively treat our patients and detect problems that might otherwise not be seen.
What is the difference between general dentistry and the specialty of orthodontics? When does one need to visit an orthodontist?
Orthodontists have 2-3 years of further education after the four years of dental school in an orthodontic residency focusing only on orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. We recommend patients to be evaluated by an orthodontist around age seven to evaluate the eruption of the teeth and check for proper development of the jaws/bone.
What are some of the top reasons people visit you?
People usually see us for an esthetic concern, because the dentist referred them, or because they have a friend who we have treated. But the most important reason for us to treat patients is to properly align the teeth and bite for proper function. If we don’t see the patient while the jaws are still growing, we are limited in what we can correct without surgery for a malocclusion/improper bite.
How are metal braces different from those of 20 years ago? What is the difference between these and the more esthetic type of braces, such as clear braces? Do some patients need metal braces as opposed to clear ones?
The most common type of braces are high-grade stainless-steel braces, and they have improved with technology — they are smaller, more precise, and more comfortable. There is no difference in treatment between ceramic braces/brackets or metal braces/brackets.
Metal braces are slightly more cost effective, and are fixed, unlike Invisalign braces. Many of our patients are children or teenagers and they want to change colors at every appointment, which is typically every 6-8 weeks, so they don’t mind the metal. Clear aligners, like Invisalign, are another esthetic option that works well in certain cases, but not in others. Being evaluated/treated by an orthodontist is the best way to ensure a favorable outcome with Invisalign, and we can determine if that’s the case after an initial visit.
How does creating a more beautiful smile tie directly to better health for your patients?
We always say esthetics are really a byproduct of proper function. When the teeth are in the correct position, they function correctly, and forces are distributed evenly in the mouth. This can prevent problems like tooth wear and recession over time. Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean, leading to less inflammation, infection, or periodontal disease. This is important not just for the health of your mouth, but the health of your entire body.