Orthodontic FAQs

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is a specialized form of dentistry focusing on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.

Who is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional training and experience. Your orthodontist is able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve the function and appearance of your smile.

What’s the best age to visit the orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven; however, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens, with about one in every five orthodontic patients being over the age of 21. Whether you’re considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

How can I take care of my teeth if I’m wearing braces, aligners, or a retainer?

  • Brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse to prevent cavities.
  • If you take out your aligners or retainer to eat, keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost or broken.
  • Clean your aligners or retainer by brushing it gently with a toothbrush. You may also soak it in a special cleaner as instructed by your orthodontist. Do not put your aligners or retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
  • 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 or damage your braces (corn on the cob, bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).
  • Continue to visit the dentist every six months.

What are braces/aligners?

Braces and aligners are used by your orthodontist to help you improve the look and feel of your smile. There are several different types to choose from, including:

  • Traditional metal braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Clear (ceramic) braces
  • Clear aligners (such as Invisalign®)

If I get braces or aligners, how long do I have to wear them?

The amount of time will vary depending on the individual patient. Treatment times can take anywhere between six and 30 months, but most standard treatments take about 24 months.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), it’s recommended that retainers be worn for as long as you want your teeth to remain straight. The most common retention protocol is 6 months full-time wear followed by nighttime wear for life.

Will treatment hurt?

It’s normal to experience some discomfort for a couple of days after you begin treatment as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth adjust. Some discomfort may also occur for a day or two after each wire change.

Do I need to brush my teeth more often?

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. 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.

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 that 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 treatment interfere with my school activities like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first start, but treatment will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.

How do I schedule my next appointment?

Simply call us or use our appointment request form. 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.