In this section, we attempt to answer some questions that we get asked frequently. The following are the most frequently asked questions about braces and orthodontic care. If you have additional questions, please ask your dentist, or contact any of our locations.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics, or dentofacial orthopedics, is a specialized form of dentistry that requires additional work after dental school. It focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of facial and dental abnormalities.
What is an orthodontist?
To become an orthodontist, one must graduate from dental school and then dedicate two to three more years to additional training and experience. Through this specialized training, orthodontists become equipped to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve the function of smiles.
Key Items to Consider When Selecting an Orthodontist
When it is time to choose an orthodontist, we know you have many options. Making the right decision for your needs can seem overwhelming with all of the complex treatments and options available. Here are some things we think are important for you to consider when making your decision.
The qualifications of the orthodontist – Don’t be afraid to ask for information on the qualifications and experience of the orthodontist. Orthodontic treatment takes a high level of skill, and you want to be sure any orthodontist you work with has the experience necessary to give you not just a beautiful smile, but one that functions well, too. Is your orthodontist a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics? What are his or her areas of expertise? How long has he or she been practicing? Do friends, family members and others in the dental community recommend the orthodontist?
The qualifications of the staff – An orthodontist’s staff play key roles in your orthodontic care. Their experience and qualifications are a critical component in the success of your treatment. Ask about their qualifications and experience to ensure that you have the most highly trained professionals as part of your orthodontic team.
Technology use in the office – Does your orthodontist use the latest technology available in the orthodontic world? With new technology introduced all the time, the orthodontic world changes rapidly. Is your orthodontist committed to staying at the forefront of the technological world? This will ensure you always have access to the latest and greatest in orthodontic care. Ask your orthodontist about digital X-rays, SureSmile® technology, Invisalign®, and Damon™ Smile.
References – Ask your orthodontist for a list of references. You can often learn the most about an orthodontist by speaking with former patients. By speaking to patients who have had treatment similar to your own and learning about their experiences, you can better understand what to expect from your orthodontist practice.
Location – Orthodontic treatment requires regular office visits over the duration of treatment. Be sure you choose a practice that has an office or offices conveniently located for you and your family. Many larger practices might have satellite offices in multiple areas, allowing you convenient access from work, school, and home.
Convenient office hours – Life is busy, and it’s important that any orthodontic practice you choose have office hours that conveniently fit into your schedule. Are early or late appointment available? Are Saturday appointments an option? What happens if you experience an emergency? If the orthodontist has more than one office, how are appointments schedule at each location? Will front desk assistants work with you to ensure appointments fit into your busy schedule?
What's the best age to visit the orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children first visit an orthodontist by the age of seven. Treatment may not always begin this early; however, an orthodontist will be able to begin monitoring the teeth to determine the proper time to begin treatment. But, it’s never too late to start orthodontic treatment! In fact, one in five patients in orthodontic care is now over the age of 21. Orthodontic treatment is no longer just for children and teens - , any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist and be on the road to a healthier, more beautiful smile.
How can I take care of my teeth if I'm wearing braces or a retainer?
- ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
- Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse to help prevent cavities!
- If you take out your retainer to eat, remember to keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost or broken. Then, remember to brush your teeth and floss before placing it back in your mouth.
- Keep your retainer clean by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by your orthodontist. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher as this can alter its shape.
- During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly cavities.
- Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).
- Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.
What are braces?
Braces are used by your orthodontist to help you improve the look and feel of your smile.
There are several different types of braces to choose from, including:
- Clear braces
- Ceramic braces
- Self-ligating braces
- Invisible braces
- Traditional metal braces
If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?
Every smile responds differently to treatment, so that means the amount of time spent in them depends on each individual patient. We cannot tell you an exact length of time you’ll need to wear them. Treatment can last anywhere from six months to 30 months. The standard treatment time is 22 months.
Do braces hurt?
Braces generally should not hurt, however, you may experience slight discomfort when the braces are first placed. It may take a few days for your mouth to become accustomed to the braces.
Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?
While wearing braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces before it has the chance to cause harm to your teeth. You should also floss daily to get in between your braces where your brush isn't able to reach. Your orthodontist can show you how to properly brush and floss once your braces are placed.
If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?
Yes! In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can't reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.
Will my braces interfere with my school activities like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?
Wearing braces will not keep you from participating in any activity, but it may require a period of adjustment when you first get your braces. If you play a contact sport, you should always wear a mouth guard to protect your braces or appliance, and to protect your lips and mouth from injury.
How do I schedule my next appointment?
Simply call our practice to schedule appointments! Our front desk staff will be happy to help schedule your next appointment at your convenience. If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know and we will provide you with all of the information you need.