What is an orthodontist and why choose an orthodontist over a general dentist to straighten your teeth?
An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. All orthodontists are dentists, but only about six percent of dentists are orthodontists. Admission to orthodontic programs is extremely competitive and selective.
Orthodontic specialists have completed 4 years of dental school and then gone on to an additional 2-3 years of orthodontic training. Orthodontists learn the complex skills required to manage tooth movement (orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics).
Only dentists who have successfully completed these advanced specialty education programs may call themselves orthodontists. While some general dentists offer to straighten your teeth, they have minimal training and experience in orthodontics. So trust your orthodontic care to an orthodontic specialist who does orthodontics all day, every day.
Do I need a referral from my dentist?
No, you do not. Some of our patients are referred by their family dentist, yet many other patients take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves. If you are considering orthodontics, just give us a call.
What's the best age to visit the orthodontist?
If you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great age to see the orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven. At that age, orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth or emerging teeth. That's important, because some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if found early. That doesn't mean that every 7 year old needs braces as only a small percent do. But it's better to have your child checked earlier than later.
Orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to just 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 family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
- During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly cavities.
- Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).
- Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.
If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?
The amount of time spent in braces will vary depending on the individual patient, because every smile responds differently to treatment. Treatment times can take anywhere between 6 and 30 months, but most standard treatments takes between 18 to 24 months.
Does it hurt to get braces? What about after adjustments?
It is generally painless having braces put on. A dull ache during the first couple of days or so is not uncommon, as the patient adjusts to wearing the orthodontic appliance. Soreness after periodic adjustments may also occur, though it is typically minor and lasts for a very short time. Discomfort can be alleviated with over-the-counter pain medication but is rarely necessary.
Why do we wear elastic rubber bands?
Elastics are the small rubber bands that attach to hooks on the braces, and they serve an important function in orthodontic treatment. While braces can straighten and realign the teeth, they cannot make changes to the bite alignment. That is because the top and bottom braces aren’t connected, so they have no way to apply force between the upper and lower jaws. Elastics solve this problem by applying tension between the upper and lower jaws to adjust the bite alignment to create a healthier bite.
How often will I have appointments?
Appointments are scheduled according to each patient's needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every 4 to 8 weeks. The average interval is every 6 weeks with a 25 minute appointment. Patients using Invisalign are often seen every 6 to 10 weeks.
Can I drop my child off for their appointment?
Yes. We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. On some occasions, we may request to speak with a parent to relay any important information from the appointment, so we ask that parents check in with us when they pick up their child.
Will my braces interfere with 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 wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance. Orthodontic specific mouthguards can be found in our office.