Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics

What do orthodontists do?

Orthodontists are specialists in the field of dentistry. We diagnose and treat irregularities of the teeth, face, and jaw, including misalignment and incorrect spacing or positioning of the teeth. Using specialized treatment options, including braces and a variety of other oral appliances, we correct these conditions.

Why should I, or someone in my family, get orthodontic treatment?

When your teeth are misaligned, crowded, or not meeting properly when you bite down or smile, it is difficult to feel confident. Orthodontic treatment not only allows your teeth to function properly, but enhances your smile, which in turn enhances your self-image and how others see you. Additionally, when teeth are aligned correctly, they are easier to keep clean, which is a simple way to improve your overall health.

When should orthodontic treatment be started?

It is never too late to initiate orthodontic treatment, but that being said, the earlier you begin treatment for some problems, the better. The American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation is that for any child who may require orthodontic treatment, the child should have an orthodontic evaluation around the age of seven.

How can I recognize a potential bite problem?

Protruding, crowded teeth, or teeth emerging out of position are obvious indications that orthodontic treatment is warranted (View Examples). Other potential problems may be less obvious. These include difficulty speaking, regular biting of the cheek or palate, open-mouth breathing, and thumb sucking past three to four years of age. Other problems that might indicate an orthodontic issue are jaws that shift or make sounds as they move, and teeth that don’t meet properly when the mouth closes.

Does getting braces hurt? What about wearing them?

It is generally painless having braces put on. Minor aches and pains during the first couple of days or so is not uncommon, as the patient adjusts to wearing the orthodontic appliance. Soreness after periodic adjustments may also occur, though it is typically minor and lasts for a very short time. Discomfort can be alleviated with over-the-counter pain medication but is rarely necessary.

How long will treatment take?

Active treatment (referring to the period of wearing the orthodontic appliance) varies depending on the person but can take anywhere from six to thirty months. After that time, a retainer will need to be worn.

How often will I come in for an appointment?

Most people receiving active orthodontic treatment will visit their orthodontist once every four to ten weeks. However, it really depends on what procedure is being done and how often yo progress needs to be monitored.

Will I need to have any teeth extracted?

If your mouth is too small to accommodate all of your teeth comfortably, leaving your teeth severely crowded, or if you have teeth that are impacted (being prevented from erupting because other teeth are in the way), you may need to have one or more teeth extracted. Younger patients may avoid extraction with early treatment.

Will I have to watch what I eat?

Yes — you will be provided with a list of foods you should avoid. These include hard candy, raw vegetables, caramel, taffy, ice cubes and anything else that might damage or become trapped in your braces.

Will I be able to play sports/ play my instrument?

Although wearing a mouthguard when playing most sports is recommended, whether you wear braces or not, orthodontic appliances do not interfere with playing your favorite sports. As far as playing an instrument, it should not be a problem after a short adjustment period.

While I'm getting orthodontic treatment, do I still need to make appointments with my regular dentist?

Yes - definitely. It is more vital than ever to keep your teeth free of tartar and plaque, as it can be very difficult while you are wearing braces. Frequent dental cleanings and exams will help you avoid unnecessary problems.

When my braces come off, will I need to wear a retainer?

The answer is almost always yes. Your teeth can shift out of position very quickly without a retainer, making all the effort you put into your treatment a waste of time and money. If you want to maintain your beautiful smile for a lifetime, you will want to wear your retainer.

Is orthodontic care very expensive?

As a long-term investment in your health, weighed against living with problem teeth, orthodontic treatment is indeed a wise investment. Treatment cost has not increased at the same rate as many consumer products and there are many financing options available that make it very affordable.

Related Articles

Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Magic of Orthodontics Proper alignment of the teeth is basic to “Smile Design.” Their position dictates how they work together and affects the way you look and smile. Only orthodontic treatment can move teeth into the right position. Simply put, when things look right, they probably are right. Learn the basics of smile analysis and design and whether the magic of orthodontics will work for you... Read Article

Adult Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

Orthodontics for the Older Adult Healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so there's no such thing as “too old” for braces. In fact, nowadays about one out of every five orthodontic patients is an adult. Yet this figure represents only a small portion of adults who could actually benefit from orthodontic treatment... Read Article

ABC Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics

  • ABC Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics - 714 W. Maxwell St., Chicago, IL 60607 Phone: 312-455-8803

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