For most people, achieving a healthy, beautiful smile is the reason for receiving orthodontic care. If you’re self-conscious about your smile, correcting your concerns with braces will greatly improve the way you look and feel.
When your treatment is complete, you will have the smile you’ve always dreamed of and the confidence to show it off! We also want you to feel comfortable and confident throughout your entire orthodontic experience, and our practice is dedicated to making sure that you receive the quality care you deserve.
How Orthodontic Treatment Works
Orthodontic appliances are made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to the proper position.
Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can now choose clear or metal brackets and, in some cases, the color of your appliance. Wires are far less noticeable, and the latest materials are designed to move teeth faster with more comfort. Today, any age is a great age to wear braces!
Duration Of Treatment
Treatment time varies and can last between one and three years, depending on several factors including age, treatment method, and how minor or severe your case is. A big factor in a successful treatment is you! The more involved and diligent you are, the more efficient your treatment will be. For children, receiving interceptive or early treatment can also help provide a quicker treatment time.
Before beginning your orthodontic care, your doctor will discuss all of your options and provide an estimate for how long your full treatment may take. Please contact our practice to schedule an appointment and learn more about orthodontics and the treatments we provide.
Early Orthodontic Treatment
Early Orthodontic Treatment For Children
What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment, and why might my child need early treatment? How will early treatment benefit my child in the long run?
These are just a few of the questions surrounding the topic of early orthodontic treatment for children. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven. At this point the orthodontist will evaluate whether your child will need orthodontic treatment.
Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future.
How To Tell If Your Child May Need Early Orthodontic Treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Your child continues sucking his or her thumb after age five
- Speech impediments
- Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
- Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner or even at all
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
What Causes Orthodontic Problems, And How Will Early Treatment Benefit My Child?
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.
If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child’s smile.
For All Ages
Orthodontics For Children
While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends visiting the orthodontist around age seven.
By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier for the orthodontist to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery.
Early treatment allows your orthodontist to:
- Correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- Create more space for crowded teeth
- Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
- Correct thumb sucking and help improve minor speech problems
For parents, it’s not always easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment.
Here are a few things to look for that may mean your child needs to see an orthodontist:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- A hard time chewing or biting food
- Mouth breathing
- Finger or thumb sucking
- Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
- Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
- Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
Please contact our practice to schedule an appointment for an orthodontic evaluation. Early treatment now will give your child a healthy, beautiful smile for the future.
Orthodontics For Teens
Braces, retainers, and everything else that you want to know about orthodontics!
You’ve just heard the three words that every teen dreads: “YOU NEED BRACES!”
Braces! What now?
Don’t worry! Braces aren’t nearly as scary as you may think. In fact, braces today come in a variety of styles, materials, and colors, making life with braces much easier, more comfortable, and even more stylish than in the past.
How long will I have to wear braces?
The amount of time it takes to treat your smile with braces depends on three key factors:
- Early treatment — Early treatment allows orthodontists to monitor the growth of the jaw and recommend further orthodontic treatment if it becomes necessary. Not everybody receives early orthodontic treatment; in some cases it may be recommended that a patient wait to receive treatment.
- What needs correction — The amount of treatment needed to correct a problem will determine how long the process takes. Different patients react to treatments differently. While it may take one patient only 12 months to complete treatment, it may take another patient 24 months. Treatment times can vary depending on how quickly your body responds and how much work is needed to give you the show-stopping smile you expect.
- YOU! — Your willingness to use the appliances your orthodontist gives you plays a major role in the length of time it takes to complete your treatment. Always remember to take care of your braces and appliances; this truly will help make your treatment shorter!
Braces Your Way!
Our practice offers a variety of braces, types and styles, to choose from. Some common options include:
- Ceramic braces
- Invisible braces
- Lingual braces
- Traditional metal braces
Orthodontic braces are a big part of life for many people your age. While braces may have had a bad reputation in the past, today’s braces make it easy to look good and feel good! Please contact our practice to schedule your next orthodontic checkup.
Orthodontics For Adults
Orthodontic treatment is no longer just for teens. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists states that one in five orthodontic patients is over the age of 21. Many adults are choosing to receive treatment because they understand the importance of maintaining their health, and they want to feel better about their appearance. Adults everywhere are taking advantage of the opportunity to receive orthodontic care, and now you can too.
Common reasons why adults consider orthodontic treatment:
- A bad bite or malocclusion, causing teeth to fit together incorrectly
- Teeth are crowded or spaced apart, possibly causing tooth decay or gum disease
- Abnormal jaw pain, or pressure that is caused by crooked teeth
- Desire for a healthier mouth and a more confident smile
Treatment options for adults
For many adults, the thought of having metal braces is enough to discourage them from receiving treatment. However, today’s orthodontic treatment options offer a variety of braces and appliances that are comfortable, aesthetic, and customized to meet your needs. Types of braces include:
- Clear braces
- Ceramic braces
- Self-ligating braces
- Lingual (behind the tooth) braces
- Invisible braces
- Traditional metal braces
The difference between adult orthodontics and orthodontics for children and teens:
The main difference to remember when treating adults or children and teens, is that in younger patients the jawbones are still developing. For adults, these bones have stopped growing, which may mean the possibility of orthognathic surgery to align the jawbones. Other differences include:
- Gum or bone loss (periodontal disease) — Adults are more likely than children to experience gum recession or even bone loss due to gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease. Patients with straighter teeth are less likely to get gum disease.
- Worn or missing teeth — Over time teeth can become worn down and shift into different positions that can only be corrected with orthodontic care. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift and tilt, creating a bad bite and increasing the possibility of gum disease.
- Incomplete orthodontic treatment as a teen — Many adults received some orthodontic treatment as a child or teen, but never completed their treatment. As an adult, they choose to complete their orthodontic treatment to achieve the healthy, beautiful smile they always wanted.
Our practice also recognizes that adults and children have different needs, and require a different level of attention and care. We will work with you to ensure that you receive the most appropriate treatments, and that your needs are met with understanding and respect from us.
Why should you consider orthodontic treatment?
- Straight teeth are healthy teeth — Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to keep clean with flossing and brushing, and may help prevent other health problems.
- A beautiful, straight smile builds confidence — Orthodontic treatment can help boost your self-confidence, giving you a better quality of life and the freedom to smile without holding back!
- Mouths left untreated can get worse — Not receiving orthodontic treatment when it’s needed can create long-term health issues costing you more in the end.
To learn more about the benefits of adult orthodontics please contact our practice to schedule an appointment. We understand that you have a busy schedule, and we will work with you to make sure each office visit is as convenient as possible.
Life with Braces
Now that you have your braces, how do you take care of them? It’s important for you to know how to properly take care of your braces throughout your entire orthodontic treatment.
Eating With Braces
Don’t worry, you’ll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time! However, before you can start enjoying some of the treats you love, you will need to take special care to avoid any foods that could damage your new appliances.
Foods To Avoid With Braces:
- Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum
- Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots
Foods You Can Eat With Braces:
- Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
- Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
- Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
- Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
- Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
- Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
- Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
Soreness Caused From Braces And Appliances
When you first get your braces, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever! To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).
If the pain is more severe and does not go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. It is also not uncommon for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces. We would be happy to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know.
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don’t worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose.
Loose Wires And Bands
The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.
You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.
Take Care Of Your Appliances
Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.
Playing Sports With Braces
Game, Set, Match — we have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it’s recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let your doctor know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.
In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and appliance for damage. If you notice any loose teeth or appliance damage, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort by applying wax or rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.
Brushing and Flossing
Click to learn all about caring for your braces
When you have braces, it’s very important to brush and floss after every meal in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your orthodontic treatment. If you need help choosing the right toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss, please ask us and we can help you choose the right products for your teeth and your appliance.
Brushing With Braces
Brush your teeth for two minutes after every meal with a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. As an alternative, you can use a powered toothbrush to increase your brushing effectiveness. Brush the outside and inside surfaces of your teeth using small, gentle, circular motions while positioning the head of the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Brush your teeth’s chewing surfaces and the inside surface of your front teeth using short, gentle, back-and-forth motions. Pay close attention to the areas around your brackets or other appliances.
Flossing With Braces
Flossing after every meal will help keep your teeth and braces clean, which will also help keep your treatment time on track. To floss with braces, use a floss threader or special orthodontic floss to thread the floss behind each wire. Wrap the ends of the floss around your pointer fingers of both hands, leaving a few inches of taut floss between them. Gently slide the floss between each set of teeth using a back and forth motion. Floss the sides of each tooth beneath the gum line to remove plaque and food particles. Repeat this process until you’ve flossed all of your teeth. If you find that your floss is not removing all of the food particles between your teeth and around your braces, ask us about a water flosser!
Types of Braces
Self-ligating braces are made from the same materials as traditional braces. However, self-ligating braces do not require the use of elastics, meaning fewer appointments and less friction being placed on the tooth. Self-ligating braces come with traditional metal, ceramic, or clear brackets. They are the same size as metal braces, but use a specialized clip in place of elastics to help the archwire guide teeth into place. The clip helps reduce the amount of pressure being placed on the tooth, and requires fewer adjustments because there are no elastics to replace. However, we do understand that some of our patients like having colors, and you do have the option of adding colored elastics with good oral hygiene.
Clear (Ceramic) Braces
Ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns. While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and are more brittle than their metal counterparts. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.
Clear aligners are a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable acrylic trays that straighten your teeth like braces. Not only are the aligners invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment, plus brushing and flossing are less of a hassle. The aligners are comfortable and have no metal to cause mouth abrasions during treatment.
Types of Appliances
Elastics (Rubber Bands)
Wearing elastics (or rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. Wear rubber bands as instructed, and remember that the rubber bands work far more efficiently if they’re worn as prescribed.
The Forsus Fatigue Resistant Device is an alternative to headgear which promotes growth in adolescents, helping to eliminate excessive overbites, improve the fit of teeth, and possibly prevent the need for jaw surgery.
Headgear is used to treat patients whose teeth are in an overbite, with the upper jaw forward of the lower jaw, or an underbite with the lower jaw forward of the upper jaw. Headgear gently “pulls” on your teeth to restrict further forward growth of your upper teeth and jaw.
The palatal expander “expands” (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.
Retainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to prevent regression of your treatment.
Separators Or Spacers
Separators are little rubber doughnuts that may be placed between your teeth to push them apart so that orthodontic bands may be placed during your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the bands. Separators do not mix well with sticky foods, toothpicks, or floss.
Carriere Motion Appliance
The Carriere Distalizer is an orthodontic device developed to correct a bite without removing permanent teeth when teeth have erupted incorrectly. With an effect similar to headgear, but without the use of a bulky appliance, the Carriere Distalizer pushes upper teeth back to create a corrected bite prior to the addition of braces.
True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they occur we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call our office when you experience severe pain or have a painful appliance problem you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.
You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to solve many problems yourself temporarily until you can get to our office. If there is a loose piece that you can remove, put it in a plastic bag or envelope and bring it with you to your next appointment. If your braces are poking you, put soft wax on the piece that’s sticking out. If the wire has slid to one side, you can pull it back to the other side with needle-nosed pliers, replacing it in the tube on the back tooth.
After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions to your treatment plan.
When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth, and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Stick to a soft diet until your teeth do not hurt to chew. Irritated gums and other sore spots can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen Sodium (Naprosyn, Anaprox) actually slow the tooth movement, so it is not advisable to use them frequently while wearing braces.
The lips, cheeks, and tongue may become irritated for one to two weeks as they learn a new posture and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We’ll show you how!
Sometimes discomfort is caused by not wearing the headgear as instructed by your orthodontist. Please refer to the instructions provided by your orthodontist. If the facebow (metal piece) is bent, please call our office for assistance. The headgear should hurt less the more it’s worn, so be sure you get in the prescribed number of hours.
If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the offending part.
If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it if needed for comfort. If the bracket or band can be removed easily, place it in an envelope and save it to bring to your next appointment.
Using a pair of tweezers or needle-nosed pliers, try to put your wire back into place. It is okay to use a piece of floss to tie the wire into place: tie the floss around the bracket in place of the missing colored o-ring. If you cannot put the wire into a comfortable position, and covering the end with wax doesn’t help, as a last resort use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If the end of the wire is still sharp place wax on it.
Using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax on it so that it is no longer poking.