Like so many adolescents, at the age of 12, Vanessa Stantcheva received braces to straighten her teeth and improve dental function as she transitions into adulthood. Braces may seem straightforward, but that’s not always the case as Vanessa found out. “My dentist thought my mouth was too crowded and there would not be enough space for all of my permanent teeth, so she wanted to pull three of them,” she remembers.
The teeth in question had not broken through the gums yet, so to extract them would involve major surgery, which worried both Vanessa and her mother Jessica. Jessica was a patient of Dr. Long Huynh at Park Family and Cosmetic Dentistry and expressed concern about her daughter’s situation during an office visit.
Meeting Dr. Scopu
At the time Dr. Ana Scopu was in the process of relocating from New York City to join the team at Park Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. She practiced general dentistry in the city with a specialty in orthodontics and was adept at dealing with complex cases.
Jessica remembers Dr. Long saying, “please have Dr. Scopu take a look at your daughter before you go pulling teeth that have not even come through.” She took his advice and got a second opinion.
When Dr. Scopu examined Vanessa, she wasn’t sure she could save all three teeth in question but was fairly confident she could save one or two. The dentist uses advanced technology to virtually, plan and predict how her patient’s teeth will move with braces. “I can see the movement happening before it actually does, so I can work out any kinks in advance for a more predictable outcome,” she says.
Dr. Scopu is one of the only dentists in the area to use Insignia custom braces. She starts by creating a digital imprint of the face that includes the teeth, bones, and more. Measurements are made and the brackets for the braces are custom milled for each patient. “It’s the way of the future as far as orthodontics are concerned. We have the best system on the market,” says Dr. Scopu.
Vanessa’s traditional wire and bracket braces were removed and Dr. Scopu fitted her for the custom version. The difference was immediate. “The custom braces were smoother, they weren’t so bulky and it was not so obvious that I had them,” she says. “The brackets fit each tooth and there were also no rings on the back molars so they were a lot more comfortable in the back.”
Dr. Scopu explains, “Custom braces use wires that are very flexible. They are low-force, allow for a lot of movement and are not as painful as what the older generations may remember.”
The average amount of time an adolescent spends in traditional braces is 24 months, but custom braces can cut that time to as little as 16 months according to Dr. Scopu. Vanessa is 14 years old now, her braces are off, and she is wearing a retainer. “My teeth are very straight and I’m so happy with the outcome. Some of my friends have had braces for two to three years and their teeth still aren’t straight yet.”
Braces can be applied on children as young as eleven years old but the preparation begins much earlier. That’s one reason why regular dental checkups are so important. Dr. Scopu explains, “I can see growth patterns very early allowing me to work with parents in advance to come up with a treatment plan.”
About her experience with Dr. Scopu, Vanessa says, “She is very kind and patient. She really listens and answers all of my questions and makes me feel like I’m actually involved in what is going on. I would definitely recommend Dr. Scopu and Park Family and Cosmetic Dentistry.”