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Orthodontic & Braces FAQs

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What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on identifying, preventing, and correcting irregular dental and facial issues. Orthodontics is sometimes called dentofacial orthopedics, and those terms imply involvement of the teeth, face, and musculoskeletal system.

What makes someone an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists complete dental school and then receive an extra two to three years of instruction and practice in orthodontics. Orthodontists align teeth, correct poorly aligned jaw structures, and refine the appearance of your smile.

What is the ideal age to first visit an Orthodontist?

Children should see an orthodontist when they are about 7 years old, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. Teenagers and adults can seek orthodontic treatment at any time. (Twenty percent of orthodontic patients are older than 21.) If you’re ready to enhance the appearance and function of your or your child’s smile, please get in touch.

What are braces for?

Orthodontists use braces to align teeth and improve the appearance of your smile. Aligned teeth are also easier to keep clean than crooked or crowded teeth, which improves your oral health. There are a variety of options for tooth alignment, including invisible braces, lingual braces, ceramic braces, traditional metal braces, gold braces, clear braces, and self-ligating braces. You and your orthodontist can decide which option is best for you.

Are braces painful?

Don’t worry — braces are not generally painful. You may, however, experience slight tenderness for several days at the beginning of your treatment as your teeth, mouth, jaw, and gums adjust to your new braces.

How Long Do i need to wear braces?

Every smile has different alignment needs, so it’s hard to give an answer that’s true for all patients. You may need braces anywhere from six to 30 months, though most treatments average approximately 22 months. For the most accurate estimate, visit our practice for a complimentary smile consultation.

How do I maintain tooth and gum health with braces or a retainer?

First and foremost, be sure to brush four times each day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime) and floss at least once daily. These are simply minimums, so feel free to brush and floss more often for optimum oral health!

Use toothpaste fortified with fluoride. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth and reduces your risk of cavities and decay. After brushing, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash specifically for braces — for example, Act Brace Care or Colgate Ortho Defense. (Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use.)

Retainer patients who take their retainers out to eat should place them in their containers to protect them. Before you return your retainer, floss and brush your teeth.

Lightly brush your retainer with a toothbrush and a small amount of liquid hand soap. You can also use a denture cleaner recommended by your orthodontists. Never boil your retainer or run it through the dishwasher. This can warp it and render it useless.

Stay away from foods with high amounts of processed sugar. Sugar raises your levels of oral bacteria and encourages acid production. This can increase your plaque buildup and contribute to dental cavities.

Stay away from foods that are sticky, hard, or chewy. Foods that cause problems for patients include chewing gum, hard candy, corn on the cob, caramel, ribs, nuts, and taffy. Don’t chew on ice; this can damage your braces.

Visit your dentist at least twice a year. Dental cleanings reduce the amount of plaque in your mouth and therefore reduce your risk of cavities and decay.

Should I brush my teeth more frequently with braces?

It's best to brush at least four times per day with braces — breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. These frequent brushings will help your teeth, gums, and mouth stay as healthy as possible during your orthodontic treatment. Brushing your teeth helps eradicate food particles that become lodged between your braces. Flossing also helps remove food particles from between the teeth in places the brush can’t access. Our team will gladly show you the most effective brushing and flossing techniques to help keep your braces clean and your teeth healthy.

Will I need to visit the dentist every six months with braces?

Absolutely! Routine dental care is important throughout your life, and it’s even more essential during your orthodontic treatment. Braces can make it harder for you to clean your teeth, and sometimes food gets stuck in crevices created by your braces. Trapped food can increase your oral bacteria and eventually cause dental caries, gingivitis, and even periodontal disease. Visiting your dentist and orthodontist regularly ensures that your oral health is closely monitored from all angles. The cleaner your teeth, the better they’ll look when your braces are removed.

Will braces inhibit me from pursuing my normal pastimes, such as playing sports, singing, or practicing instruments?

No — braces won’t stop you from playing the clarinet or hitting the basketball court. When it comes to instruments, you just may need to practice to get used to the feeling of playing with braces. (This adjustment period will be well worth it, because you’ll be on your way to a straighter, more attractive smile!) To protect your braces, lips and gums, on the field, we can provide a mouthguard to wear during your favorite contact sport.

What is the best way to set an appointment?

Just get in touch! Our scheduling coordinator can help you set up a convenient time for your upcoming orthodontic appointment. If you haven’t been to our practice before, let us know, and we’ll schedule an initial consultation to see how we can better your smile.