10 Frequently Asked Questions!

Check out these 10 Frequently Asked Questions. If you have any questions, that are not answered below just ask us!

1. What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

2. What is an orthodontist?

All orthodontists are dentists, but only about 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists. An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Only dentists who have successfully completed an advanced specialty education may call themselves orthodontists.

3. At what age can people have orthodontic treatment?

Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics, because healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7. Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if treated early. An orthodontic evaluation at any age is advisable if a parent, family dentist or the patient's physician has noted a problem.

4. Why is orthodontic treatment important?

Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This may contribute to conditions that cause not only tooth decay but also eventual gum disease and tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints, which can result in chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck.

5. How long will orthodontic treatment take?

In general, active treatment time with orthodontic appliances (braces) ranges from one to three years. Mild problems usually require less time, and some individuals respond faster to treatment than others. Interceptive, or early treatment procedures, may take only a few months.

6. What are orthodontic study records?

Diagnostic records are made to document the patient's orthodontic problem and to help determine the best course of treatment. Complete diagnostic records typically include a medical/dental history; plaster study models of the teeth, photos of the patient's face and teeth, and appropriate radiographic films. This information is used to plan the best course of treatment, help explain the problem, and propose treatment to the patient and/or parents.

7. How have new "high tech" wires changed orthodontics?

In recent years, many advances in orthodontic materials have taken place. Braces are smaller and more efficient. The wires now being used are no longer just stainless steel. Some of the new wires are heat-activated. These new kinds of wires cause the teeth to continue to move during certain phases of treatment, which may reduce the number of appointments needed to make adjustments to the wires.

8. How do braces feel?

Most people have some discomfort after their braces are first put on or when adjusted during treatment. After the braces are on, teeth may become sore and may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Patients can usually manage this discomfort well with whatever pain medication they might commonly take for a headache. 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. Overall, orthodontic discomfort is short-lived and easily managed.

9. Do teeth with braces need special care?

Patients with braces must be careful to avoid hard and sticky foods. They must not chew on pens, pencils or fingernails because chewing on hard things can damage the braces. Damaged braces will almost always cause treatment to take longer, and will require extra trips to the orthodontist's office.

Keeping the teeth and braces clean requires more precision and time, and must be done every day if the teeth and gums are to be healthy during and after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning.

The orthodontist and staff will teach patients how to best care for their teeth, gums and braces during treatment. The orthodontist will tell patients (and/or their parents) how often to brush, how often to floss, and, if necessary, suggest other cleaning aids that might help the patient maintain good dental health.

10. How important is patient cooperation during orthodontic treatment?

Successful orthodontic treatment is a "two-way street" that requires a consistent, cooperative effort by both the orthodontist and patient. To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must carefully clean his or her teeth, wear rubber bands or appliances as prescribed by the orthodontist, and keep appointments as scheduled. Damaged appliances can lengthen the treatment time and may undesirably affect the outcome of treatment.

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