FAQ

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment is available to patients of all ages. In accordance with the American Association of Orthodontists, we recommend that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. With early evaluation and diagnosis, children can achieve optimal orthodontic results. Early treatment provides a range of benefits and often means that a patient can avoid surgery or other serious complications. There is, of course, no age limit for orthodontic treatment as both children and adults benefit from orthodontics. As such, our office accommodates orthodontic patients of all ages.

Who is an orthodontist?

Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. Orthodontic specialists have extensive and specialized training that enables them to provide their patients with professional, personalized treatments.

What's the best age to visit the orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth in most children have erupted, allowing us to effectively evaluate your orthodontic condition.

How can I take care of my teeth if I'm wearing braces or a retainer?

Brushing

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.

Especially during orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces:

  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After supper
  • At bedtime

You will need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. It may be difficult for your toothbrush to reach some areas under your archwire. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash and fluoride treatment throughout your orthodontic treatment and beyond for optimal oral hygiene.

Flossing

For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque. Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.

Use the reusable floss threader provided by our office to floss under your archwire daily. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You will be able to feel when the tooth is clean and hear the squeak of the floss against your clean teeth. Use care around your archwire and do not floss too forcefully around it or put too much pressure on it. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.

If you are flossing without the floss threader, pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, inform a staff member at your next appointment.

What are braces?

Bands

Bands are a ring of metal, which fit around the molars and sometimes premolars. The bands are selected from a range of sizes in order to find the tightest fitting band. The bands are sealed in position using dental cement that contains fluoride to prevent any decalcification during treatment.

Brackets

The brackets hold the archwire against each tooth. The archwire fits into a slot in the bracket. Brackets may be attached directly to each tooth or to a band.

Archwire

The main wires or archwires, are shaped specifically to fit around the arch into the bracket slots. Teeth move from the pressure that is applied by the braces. That pressure comes from the archwire, which guides the direction of the movement.

Elastics

An elastic is the tiny rubber ring that ties the archwire into the bracket.

Hooks

Hooks are small attachments on the brackets used to attach elastics (rubber bands).

Coil Spring

The coil spring fits between brackets and over the archwire.

If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?

Treatment time obviously depends on each patient's specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment times range from 12 to 30 months. The "average" time frame a person is in braces is approximately 22 months.

Do braces hurt?

Generally, braces do not "hurt." After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, patients do not feel any soreness at all! We often remind our patients, “It does not have to hurt to work!”

Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?

Patients should brush their teeth at least four times each day - after each meal and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to floss their teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

Yes! Regular checkups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.

Will my braces interfere with my school activities; like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

No. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports.

How do I schedule my next appointment?

If you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office or send us an e-mail. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you. When you call to schedule your appointment, our front office staff will request some basic information from you.