Find Answers to Important Questions
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about braces and aligners. If you have any concerns or inquiries, please feel free to ask any of our team. We hope to make you feel comfortable with all parts of your orthodontic care. Remember, one of our main concerns is to make sure that you have cavity-free teeth and healthy gums. In just a short time, you’ll have a beautiful, straight, healthy smile.
What Is an Orthodontist?
Orthodontists receive an additional two-to-three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align teeth and correct bites. Only those who successfully complete this formal education may call themselves orthodontists.
Why Is Treatment Important?
Orthodontic treatment helps ensure proper function and create healthy, beautiful smiles. Teeth that are misaligned are harder to clean and maintain as well as can cause abnormal wearing of tooth enamel which can lead to extensive and expensive dental procedures.
Why See an Orthodontic Specialist?
They are the dental professionals with the skills and experience to best treat orthodontic problems. Aligning teeth to function properly and look great, too, is what an orthodontic specialist does best.
What Causes Orthodontic Problems?
Most problems are inherited- such as crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth and some jaw growth problems. Others can be a result of thumb- or finger-sucking, dental disease, accidents, the early or late loss of baby teeth or other causes.
What Is the Role of a Patient?
A patient is a partner in the process. A patient keeps appointments, maintains oral hygiene, follows care instructions and continues to see a primary dentist.
When Should Children Get Their First Check-up?
The best time for treatment is when an orthodontic problem arises, but as a general rule, age 7 is an ideal time to get an evaluation. There is usually an optimal time in your child’s life to achieve the best results, so you won’t regret getting an early consultation from an orthodontic specialist.
Am I Too Old for Orthodontic Treatment?
Age doesn’t matter. The key factor is determining a good candidate for treatment is the health of teeth and gums.
How Long Does Treatment Take?
It depends on the complexity of the case and what the patient wants to achieve. A short-term touch up can be as little as several months while comprehensive treatment could last several years.
What’s the Cost?
Orthodontic specialists customize both treatments and fees. After a face-to-face consultation, you can determine what type of treatment, appliances and results might work best for you. A flexible payment plan may be used to construct an affordable plan.
Can I Get Appliances That Are Less Noticeable?
Many of today’s orthodontic treatments are designed to minimize the appearance of the appliance and better fit an adult lifestyle. Keep in mind, limiting your treatment options may limit your results. Whether it is clear braces, braces behind your teeth or clear aligners, you have discreet choices to help achieve your desired result.
Will Treatment Fit My Lifestyle?
Certainly. You can still sing, play an instrument, dine out, kiss and do almost anything. Some temporary adjustments may be necessary, but most patients adapt quickly.
How Often Are Check-ups?
It will depend on the treatment recommendation, but the average is once every five or six weeks during active treatment.
Can Treatment Help Someone Who Has Missing Teeth?
Yes! Orthodontic treatment can properly align your teeth and create the proper space for future dental procedures like veneers, crowns, implants, etc.
Does Gum Disease Impact Orthodontic Treatment?
It is imperative to have a periodontal (gum) check up with either a periodontist or your general dentist to make sure that your mouth is a good candidate for treatment.
Will I Experience Discomfort?
Treatment is more comfortable than ever, thanks to new techniques and appliances. Discomfort, if any, is short-lived and can be managed with over-the-counter acetaminophen such as TYLENOL®. It’s normal for a patient to have discomfort for a day or two after braces are adjusted. Soft foods are encouraged during this 1-to-2-day period. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water.
Is It Important to Brush and Floss My Teeth on a Daily Basis?
Yes. Daily brushing and flossing, with the proper methods, contribute to good oral hygiene.
Why Is Good Oral Hygiene Important?
Good oral hygiene can prevent gum disease, cavities as well as tooth loss. It also contributes to fresh breath, healthy gums and healthy teeth.
Why Can Gum Disease Be Dangerous?
Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) increases the chances of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
How Do I Brush My Teeth With Braces?
It’s important to brush your teeth without damaging your braces. Follow this step-by-step method to brush like a pro.
- Soft-bristle toothbrush or a power toothbrush
- Toothpaste with fluoride
Step 1. Begin by rinsing your mouth with water. This will help to loosen some of the food stuck in your braces.
Step 2. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to your toothbrush.
Step 3. Tip the toothbrush at a 45° angle against the bracket from the bottom, upward. Brush back and forth against the bracket area. Make sure you brush every tooth and bracket.
Step 4. Tip the toothbrush at a 45° angle against the bracket from the top, downward. Brush back and forth against the bracket area. Make sure you brush every tooth and bracket.
Step 5. Place the bristles of the toothbrush against the centre of the bracket in front. Start the middle, working towards the back of the tooth in a circular motion. Start with the right side, then proceed to the left. Make sure the toothbrush is flat against the brackets. This will help to clean bacteria from around the edges of the brackets.
Step 6. Place the bristles of the brush against the gingival area (where the gums meet the teeth). Using a sweeping motion, brush gum to tooth, gum to tooth. Make sure you continue to brush all areas of the outside of the teeth, especially at the back. Apply a low-to-moderate amount of pressure.
Step 7. Brush the chewing areas of your teeth in a side-to-side motion. Apply a low-to-moderate amount of pressure.
Step 8. Brush the inner areas of your teeth with the tip of your toothbrush. Apply a low-to-moderate amount of pressure.
Step 9. Brush your tongue and roof of the mouth with toothpaste. Use a low amount of force.
Step 10. After you are finished brushing, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water or a mouth rinse.
Step 11. Check your braces for any loose or broken brackets.
Is It Enough to Brush My Teeth Daily Rather Than Brush and Floss My Teeth Daily?
No. Both brushing and flossing contribute to the removal of harmful bacterial colonies known as plaque. Brushing removes the plaque found on the front and back surfaces of your teeth. Flossing removes the plaque found between teeth which cannot be properly cleaned by the relatively larger bristles of a toothbrush. Flossing also removes food particles that act as sustenance for the harmful bacteria.
How Do I Floss My Teeth With Braces?
Flossing is an integral part of good oral hygiene. Follow this step-by-step method to floss effectively with braces.
- Small interproximal (proxy) brush
- Floss threader
Step 1. Wet the interproximal brush with water.
Step 2. Insert the proxy brush behind the archwire to clean your teeth.
Step 3. Once you are finished with the proxy brush, rinse it thoroughly with water because bacteria (germs) can build on the bristles if it’s not cleaned properly.
Step 4. Cut a piece of floss about the length from your wrist to your elbow.
Step 5. Bend the floss threader where the loop meets the needle. Pinch tightly! This should form a V-shape in the threader and will make it easier to grasp the threader as you floss.
Step 6. Thread your floss threader with the floss the same way you would thread a needle. The threader is quite flexible, so hold it in a grip in the palm of your hand.
Step 7. Guide the threader under the arch wire. Pull the floss through about half way.
Step 8. Wrap one end of the floss around your right index finger then wrap the other end of the floss around your left index finger. Leave about 3 to 4 inches to use for flossing.
Step 9. Gently guide the floss between your teeth in a seesaw motion until it reaches the gums. Don’t snap the floss down as you will damage your gums and may cause them to bleed.
Step 10. Guide the floss around one tooth in a C-shape. Be gentle to work up and down against the tooth.
Step 11. Bring the floss upwards so that it is out of the contact area (the contact area is where 2 teeth meet closely).
Step 12. Pull the floss by one end from under the arch wire.
Step 13. Repeat Steps 6 to 12 until all your teeth are flossed.
How Often Should I Brush and Floss in a Day?
Ideally, brush after every meal.
The American Dental Association (ADA) advises brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day. However, brushing and flossing at twice a day is optimal.
Should Flossing Come Before or After Brushing?
Preferably, floss before brushing. Research published in the Journal of Periodontology revealed that flossing before brushing decreased the quantity of plaque between teeth.
What Are the Foods That I Cannot Eat With Braces?
In general, stay away from hard, crunchy, chewy, and sticky food. Almost everything you eat should be cut into bite-size pieces.
Examples of Foods to Avoid
- Please avoid chewing gum, gummy bears, jujubes, starbursts, etc. These foods are all very sticky and will loosen the brackets at the back.
- No more chocolate bars with hard nuts or sticky caramel; you can still eat chocolate but try to limit the sweets.
- Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc., will get stuck in the brackets at the back. They are very sharp and may break your brackets.
- If you want to have cough drops, suckers or hard candy, suck on them and don’t crunch these foods. They will break your brackets.
- Bagels and pizza crust (outside edge) are extremely chewy. Please try to avoid eating them. These foods will loosen your brackets.
- Corn on the cob needs to be cut off the cob with a sharp knife.
- Raw celery/ carrot sticks should be cut small and chewed at the back as they are crunchy and hard.
- If possible, don’t eat popcorn. If you insist, only eat the puffy part. Don’t eat the kernel. The kernel is hard and sharp; it can damage the gums as well as loosen your brackets.
- Chicken wings are tasty, but don’t dig in anymore. Pull the meat off the bone before you eat the chicken.
Please note: Clear braces stain easily. Listed below are foods/beverages that could stain your brackets.
- Soy sauce
- Cigarette smoke
Make sure you rinse immediately after consuming. If possible, brush your teeth afterwards.
What Are the Functions of Brackets, Wires and Rubber Bands?
Brackets are directly bonded on the teeth and hold the archwire in place. The archwire is held to each bracket by the door of the bracket. The archwire creates force to move teeth into proper alignment. Elastic hooks are used for the attachment of rubber bands, which help move teeth toward their final position.
What Is Orthodontic Wax?
Sometimes new braces can be irritating to the mouth, especially when eating. A small amount of non-medicinal orthodontic wax makes an excellent buffer between metal and mouth. The wax is used to protect your lips and cheeks from discomfort when there’s a wire poking at the back or something sharp is hurting your mouth.
How Do I Apply Orthodontic Wax?
Pinch off a small piece of orthodontic wax and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces causing irritation. You may then eat lunch more comfortably. **Please make sure you dry the area where you are applying the wax.
Help! What If I Swallowed the Orthodontic Wax?
If the wax is accidentally ingested, it’s not a problem. The wax is harmless.
What Is a Retainer?
A retainer is a piece of orthodontic equipment that is worn after the removal of your braces. Some are removable and some are fixed to your teeth. They can be for upper, lower or both sets of teeth. Your orthodontist will provide the best kind, specific to your needs.
Why Do I Need to Wear a Retainer?
You are in charge of keeping your teeth where your braces moved them. A retainer is a key part of your orthodontic treatment, and it only does its job in your mouth. Wearing your retainer after braces is the best way to preserve your healthy smile and prevent teeth from moving back into their original positions. Wear it exactly as directed by your orthodontist.
Why Do Teeth Shift?
Changes in tooth position are lifelong and naturally occurring. Do not be alarmed if small changes occur. Teeth are not set in concrete. They are set in bone. Because the bone around your teeth is continually changing (breaking down and re-building), your teeth may shift after your braces are removed.
How Do I Keep My Retainer Clean?
Your orthodontist will show you how to clean both removable and attached retainers. If you can’t clean your retainer after a meal, rinse your mouth with water until you have a chance to brush more thoroughly. Make sure to visit your dentist for your regular cleanings every six months.
Can Retainers Be Worn Too Long?
No. Many people wear removable retainers nightly for the rest of their lives.
Where Should I Put My Retainer?
If it’s not in your mouth, it should be in your case. This will protect your retainer from getting thrown away, stepped on or eaten by your dog.
What Should I Do If My Teeth Are Out of Place After Orthodontic Treatment as a Teen?
If you notice an unwanted change in your smile or bite, contact your orthodontist. An orthodontic “tune up” may be necessary.
When Should I Contact My Orthodontist About My Retainer?
Contact your orthodontist if your retainer is lost, broken or not fitting properly. Another reason to contact your orthodontist is if your fixed-retainer becomes loose.
Have more questions? Give us a call and we’ll help you out.