Frequently Asked Questions about Orthodontics

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics is a specialized area of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of misaligned teeth and jaws. Every orthodontist is also a dentist, having first graduated from an accredited dental school before pursuing the rigorous specialty training required to become an orthodontist.

Why should I choose an orthodontist?

Orthodontics is recognized by the American Dental Association as one of seven dental specialties. In order to be called an orthodontist, one must graduate from an accredited dental school and then spend an additional two to three years in an orthodontic residency program. During this time, advanced education and training are received to better understand the science behind moving teeth and creating healthy bites. This training also includes education on the anatomy of the head and neck to better understand the intricate workings of the smile.

What is the best age to first visit an orthodontist?

While healthy teeth can be moved at any age, the ideal age to first visit an orthodontist is seven. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends this age because children will have a combination of baby and permanent teeth and the orthodontist can begin to get an idea of how the adult smile is taking shape. Most patients won’t require treatment at this young age, but starting a relationship sooner ensures that treatment can begin at precisely the right time to make the most meaningful impact.

How do I care for my smile while in treatment?

Taking proper care of your smile is always important, but never more so than while in orthodontic treatment. Follow these tips from our orthodontist:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste to help prevent cavities
  • Always place your retainer or clear aligners in a case when they aren’t in your mouth, and rinse them before putting them back in
  • Clean your retainer and aligners by using a mild antibacterial soap and soft-bristled toothbrush, or by soaking them in denture cleaner.
  • Never put your retainer or clear aligners in boiling water- they will distort or melt
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks
  • If you’re wearing braces, remember to avoid foods that are sticky, chewy, hard, or crunchy.
  • Don’t forget your regular check-ups with your pediatric dentist or general dentist.

What are braces?

Braces are an appliance used by orthodontists to straighten teeth and improve the function of bites and jaws. Traditional braces consist of brackets and wires, but today there are a host of different options to choose from. We are proud to offer our patients the most cutting-edge treatments, including clear aligners, ceramic braces, and 3-D scanning (no more gooey impressions)!

How long will my treatment take?

We cannot provide an exact answer for how long your treatment will take, but on average, treatment can last anywhere from 12-24 months. The amount of time you’ll be in treatment will depend on several factors, including the severity of your issue and the age you are when treatment begins.

Is orthodontic treatment painful?

While you may experience some discomfort during the course of your treatment, especially in the first day or so of having your braces placed, orthodontic treatment should never be painful. It will take your mouth a bit of time to adjust to having the braces in place, so we recommend sticking to soft foods, gargling with saltwater, and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever to assist with any discomfort in the beginning.

Why do I still need to see my dentist while I’m in treatment?

Having healthy teeth is key to orthodontic treatment working properly, so it’s important to maintain your regular check-ups with your dentist. You are more likely to experience plaque buildup during treatment, so visits to the dentist can keep your teeth healthy and clean.

Will my orthodontic treatment interfere with school activities, such as sports or band?

While you may need to make a few adjustments, orthodontic treatment does not prohibit you from enjoying any of your favorite activities. We recommend wearing a mouthguard for all athletes or anyone involved in an activity where a blow to the mouth could occur.