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Orthodontics FAQ

Q: How often should I brush and floss?

Regularly brushing and flossing your teeth removes food debris and keeps plaque under control. As a general rule, everyone should brush and floss at least twice a day. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), brushing and flossing up to three or four times a day might have additional benefits.

Q: At what age should my child be checked by an orthodontist?

Contrary to what many parents believe, children should first see an orthodontist well before their adult teeth have erupted. For most children, the initial checkup should be scheduled around the age six or seven. During these appointments, the orthodontist can start looking for any signs that the child might have oral health issues that will need to be addressed in the future.

Q: How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?

The average healthy patient should have their mouth examined and their teeth cleaned at least once a year. Those who have been diagnosed with oral health issues such as gum disease or tooth decay must schedule additional appointments until the conditions have been treated. Patients who are wearing braces will also need to schedule frequent exams in order to track the progress of their teeth.

Q: What are the main types of orthodontic braces?

Traditional metal braces that are attached to the front of a patient's teeth are the most common form of braces. This is because metal braces are extremely durable and very effective at straightening out one's smile. These braces can be made from other materials such as ceramic, but they are generally not as sturdy as metal braces. The biggest benefit of ceramic braces is the fact that they are much less visible.

Lingual braces are popular among patients who would prefer a discreet treatment option. Instead of attaching the posts to the front of the patient's teeth, they are attached to the back. The biggest drawback of these braces is the amount of maintenance and cleaning they require. Not only do they take longer to put on, but they also make brushing and flossing more difficult. Some patients find them to be uncomfortable because they can interfere with the tongue while one is eating and speaking.

Q: What is a Malocclusion?

Malocclusion is a medical term that is used to describe a misaligned smile. This includes an overcrowded smile, gaps in between the teeth, and teeth that are not in the proper position. When malocclusion remains untreated, it increases a patient's risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay. In extreme cases, malocclusion can even cause TMJ and facial deformations.

Q: Do braces hurt?

The process of attaching braces to the teeth does not hurt at all, but some patients might experience soreness for a few hours after they have been put on. This is because braces apply a gentle amount of pressure to the teeth to pull them into the correct position. The soreness that you feel after your braces are tightened can be taken care of with over-the-counter painkillers. Patients who experience lingering discomfort should immediately contact their orthodontist.

Q: Can adults have braces?

Braces can be used to improve one's smile at practically any age. As long as the patient has most of their adult teeth and is in relatively good health, then they will most likely make a great candidate. Some oral health issues can slow the treatment time, but that is something you will need to discuss with your orthodontist during your initial consultation.

Q: Are there things I can't eat?

It is important for patients to watch what they eat so that they do not bend or break their braces. Foods that are particularly hard or sticky can dislodge the braces from a patient's teeth. This includes popcorn, ice, nuts, and candy. Hard vegetables that must be bitten into should be avoided as well.

Q: How long will I be in braces?

Your total treatment time depends on a few different factors, but the current state of your teeth is the most important thing to consider. Most patients must have their braces on for at least 18 months. In some cases, the treatment time can be shortened if the patient has moderate malocclusion.

Q: What do I need to consider when using a retainer?

Patients must wear retainers after their braces have been removed unless their orthodontist has specifically stated otherwise. Retainers are typically worn overnight while the patient is sleeping, but some patients might need to wear them more frequently. Cold water, a toothbrush, and mild toothpaste can be used to clean the retainer whenever it is taken out of your mouth.

Q: What should I do if I have bad breath?

The most effective way to combat bad breath is to brush, floss, and use mouthwash multiple times a day. If you continue to struggle with chronic bad breath, then you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Oral health issues such as gum disease and tooth decay often result in unusual side effects such as halitosis.

Q: Why is it important to use dental floss?

Dental floss allows you to remove food debris and plaque from areas where your toothbrush cannot reach. This includes the small gaps in between your teeth near the back of your mouth. Younger patients and those who have dexterity issues might benefit from flossing picks that are much easier to hold and use.

Q: Why straighten teeth?

Untreated malocclusion is not only unsightly, but it can also cause serious oral health problems. Patients who have misaligned teeth have higher rates of cavities and periodontal disease. Severe malocclusion often leads to deformations of one's face and jaw as well. Premature wear of the teeth is another major concern for those who have malocclusion.