Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is a specialized form of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.
What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional training and experience after becoming a dentist. Dr. Heather is able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve the function and appearance of your smile. She also has advanced specialty training from an accredited program at the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.
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 time to see Dr. Heather. The American 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.
About one in every five orthodontic patients is over the age of 21. Whether you’re considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any age 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 Dr. Heather or your family dentist whether 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 the retainer safe in its container so 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 our office. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
- During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, and cause more plaque and potential 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 are braces?
Braces are used by orthodontists to help you improve the look and feel of your smile. There are several different types of braces to choose from, including:
- Clear braces
- Ceramic braces
- Lingual braces (a treatment option not recommended by Dr. Heather)
- Self-ligating braces
- Invisible braces
- Traditional metal braces
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 last anywhere from six to 30 months, but most standard treatments take about 18 to 22 months.
Do braces hurt?
No, braces themselves do not hurt. You may feel a small amount of discomfort for a couple days as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to your new braces.
If any discomfort can be expected, Dr. Heather will often talk to you about it beforehand, so you know what to expect. Overall, very light forces are used to move teeth gradually but effectively and comfortably.
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.
You should also floss daily to get between your braces where your brush isn’t able to reach. Dr. Heather and her orthodontic team of hygienists can show you how to brush and floss properly once your braces are placed. They will provide you a home care kit that has all the tools and information you will need to keep your teeth clean and healthy.
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 your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. You should continue to see your dentist regularly to make sure your teeth stay clean and healthy while you’re wearing braces. We recommend a professional cleaning at the dentist every four to six months during the active phase of orthodontics.
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 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 the information you need.