Orthodontic FAQs

FAQs about Orthodontics

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is a specialized form of dentistry focusing on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities. Orthodontic treatment straightens your teeth so they look and function better.  Braces or other appliances are used to put gentle pressure on your teeth to move them into the right positions.  

What makes an orthodontist different from a dentist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities and has received two to three academic years of advanced education in orthodontics and is accredited by the Canadian Dental Association and is a member of the Canadian Orthodontic Association.  This advanced training includes such diverse studies as genetics, embryology, human growth and development, and biophysics. Only dentists with this advanced specialty education can present themselves as orthodontic specialists. Your orthodontist is able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve function.  

Why do I need orthodontics?

Your bite is how your top and bottom teeth come together to maximize your ability to chew food and speak.  The position of your teeth and jaws determines your bite.  A malocclusion (or bad bite) occurs if your top and bottom teeth do not fit together properly.  Missing, crooked, crowded or protruding teeth can contribute to a bad bite. Bad habits, such as thumb or finger sucking may also have an effect your bite.

A bad bite can make it difficult to chew some foods and may cause some teeth to wear down. It may also cause muscle tension and pain. Teeth that stick out are more easily chipped or broken. Crowded and crooked teeth are harder to clean, therefore put you at risk of cavities and gum disease.  Your smile and your health will be improved by fixing a bad bite. 

There are different types of bad bites:

  • Overbite: when the upper front teeth cover the lower front teeth too much
  • Crossbite: when one or more of your upper teeth don’t line up with the appropriate lower tooth or teeth
  • Underbite (anterior crossbite) when the lower front teeth are in front of the upper teeth
  • Overjet: when the upper front teeth protrude
  • Open bite:  when there is an open gap between the lower and upper front teeth when you bite

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 Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven; however, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens, with about one in every four 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 or a retainer?

  • 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!
  • If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you brush your teeth, floss, and remember to keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost or broken.
  • Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by your orthodontist. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
  • During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar 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.

What types of treatment are available?

Depending on the extent of your malocclusion, your orthodontist may suggest one or a combination of the following orthodontic treatments to correct your bite:

  • Clear aligners
  • Ceramic (clear) or traditional metal braces
  • Carriere motion
  • Removable or glued in appliances
  • Oral Surgery in conjuction with orthodontic treatment

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

The amount of time spent in treatment 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 take about 24 months.

How are braces done?

Brackets (or bands) are attached to each tooth with glue. Arch wires are fitted into all the brackets and are usually held in place with rubber or wire ties. The orthodontist will see you every 6 - 8 weeks to adjust or change your arch wires in order to guide the movement of your teeth. 

How is Invisalign done?

When you are ready to begin orthodontic treatment with Invisalign, we will perform a scan of your teeth.  Using the scanned images, the orthodontist will design your customized treatment plan using Invisalign aligners.  Once the orthodontist finalizes the design, she will instruct Invisalign to manufacture your series of aligners and send them to our office. This process usually takes up to 6 weeks.   When you come back to our office, we will insert your initial set of aligners and send you home with more sets that you will change weekly.  These will slowly move your teeth to the desired positions.  Your appointments with the orthodontist will be every 10 - 12 weeks for her to check on the fit and tracking of your aligners.

Do braces or Invisalign hurt?

You may feel some discomfort for a few days when your braces are first put on and when they are adjusted. It will take a little time to get used to your braces and they can bother your lips and cheeks. If this happens, a relief wax can be applied to your braces. To make eating easier after an adjustment, soft foods are recommended.

You may also feel some discomfort for a few days after inserting new aligners as your teeth are moving, however you shouldn't experience any irritation of the lips or cheeks as the aligners are made of a smooth material and fit like contact lenses over your teeth.  

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

With braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces. Proper brushing and flossing is even more important for people with braces because plaque can easily build up around the edges of your braces. If this plaque is not properly removed, white or brown marks may appear on the enamel surface of your teeth and these marks may be permanent.  You should also floss daily to get in between your braces where your brush isn't able to reach. Your orthodontist can show you how to properly brush and floss once your braces are placed.

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, gingivitis, 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 wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.

How do I schedule my next appointment?

Simply call our practice! Our front desk staff will be happy to help schedule your next appointment at your convenience. If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know and we will provide you with all of the information you need.

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