Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a dental specialty focused on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities, including crooked teeth and dysfunctional bites.
Who is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional training and experience after graduating from a 4-year dental school. An orthodontist is able to create beautiful smiles, correct misaligned jaw position, and improve the overall health and function of your teeth.
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 to evaluate proper eruption of permanent teeth and ensure there is adequate space for them. Normally, the ideal age to begin orthodontic treatment is around 12 or 13 when most of the permanent teeth have come in. 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?
- Always remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
- Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities and unwanted stains.
- While in braces, try to minimize foods that are high in sugar. These foods increase the amount of bacteria that can build up on your teeth, causing more plaque, cavities, and gum disease.
- Be sure to continue to see your dentist twice a year for routine check-ups and cleanings.
If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?
The duration of treatment varies from patient to patient, and it depends on the age of the patient, complexity of the case, and how compliant the patient is with their orthodontist's instructions. Treatment times can range from 6 months to 3 years, but most standard treatments are 18-24 months.
Do braces hurt?
Teeth will typically be sore for 2-3 days after they are initially placed, and for the same amount of time after each adjustment. Other than this, occasional cheek and lip sores can come and go throughout treatment, as well.
Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?
While wearing braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth and gums 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.
If I have braces, 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 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 my braces 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 get your braces, but the braces will not interfere with you singing or playing an instrument. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and braces.