What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program following dental school, to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.

What are some benefits of orthodontics?

  • A more attractive smile
  • Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Possible increase in self-confidence
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long-term health of teeth and gums
  • Guides permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Reduces the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
  • Aids in optimizing other dental treatment

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked
  • Upper font teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth, the center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger or thumb-sucking habits that continue after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist or the child’s physician.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase 1, or early interceptive treatment is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.

Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Twenty to twenty five percent of orthodontic patients today are adults.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces use steady, gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from two to three years.Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance; maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires, you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes. You should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.

Eating with Braces

What can you eat? Let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat! If you’ve been wanting to drop a few pounds, the first week of wearing braces is just your chance! For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Before long, you’ll be able to bite a cucumber again, but you’ll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you’re wearing braces.

Foods to Avoid

  • Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
  • Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
  • Sticky foods: caramels, gum
  • Hard foods: nuts, candy
  • Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots
  • Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

General Soreness

When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth, and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take aspirin or whatever you normally take for headaches or similar pain. The lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the bracers. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We’ll show you how!

Loosening of Teeth

This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don’t worry! It’s normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new – corrected – positions.

Care of Appliances

To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands, headgear or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time.

Brushing

It’s more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.

Retainer Instructions

  • Wear your retainers full time, until the doctor instructs otherwise.
  • Take your retainers out when eating and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunch rooms or restaurants.)
  • Clean retainers thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water.
  • Brushing retainers removes the plaque and eliminates odors. Efferdent or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used, but do not take the place of brushing.
  • When retainers are not in your mouth, they should always be in a retainer case. Pets love to chew on them!
  • Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading or singing out loud to get used to them faster.
  • Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. If retainers are lost or broken, call us immediately if you have any questions or concerns about your retainers, or if your retainers need adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust them yourself.
  • Always bring your retainer to your appointments.
  • Retainer replacement is expensive; with proper care, they will last for several years!
  • Remove retainers when swimming.
  • Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine and napkins.

Fixed Expander Instructions

  • Turn your expansion screws as instructed.
  • Insert the key into the hole and turn towards the arrow.
  • If you are unable to keep your scheduled appointment, stop turning the expander.