You’ve Got Questions - We’ve Got Answers
For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. After your braces come off, you'll feel more self-confident. During your treatment, we want you to feel as comfortable as possible.
How Orthodontic Treatment Works?
Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to a corrected position. This is a great time to wear braces! Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can choose brackets that are clear or metallic color. You can choose the color of the ties that hold the wire in brackets. These are what most people refer to as the "Colors" for their braces. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients.
Duration of Treatment
Treatment time typically ranges from one to three years, depending on the growth of the patient's mouth and face and the severity of the problem. Patients grow at different rates and will respond variously to orthodontic treatment, so the time to case completion may differ from the original estimate. The patient's diligent use of any prescribed rubber bands, elastics or other appliances is an important factor in achieving the most efficient treatment. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take as few as six months.
What are some possible 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
Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
Reduce 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 front 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 which continue after six or seven years old
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 I, 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, and 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 one to two 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! For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables at the beginning. You’ll soon get adjusted to your braces and are able to eat many of the things you enjoy. 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.
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 rinse. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in a cup of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take aspirin/Tylenol/Advil or whatever you normally take for headache 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 braces. 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.
Loose Wire or Band
Don't be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire under the archwire. Simply get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.
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, or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time.
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.