Orthodontics Q & A

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is not a general dentist nor your family dentist who uses braces or invisalign®. An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program accredited by the American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthodontists following dental school, to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

 
  • A more attractive smile
  • Positively enhances the appearance during critical developmental years
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Increase in self-confidence
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
 
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long term health of teeth and gums
  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
  • Aid in optimizing other dental treatment
 

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

 
  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked
  • Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (under bite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
 
  • Finger or thumb sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth
 

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age where a problem needs to be treated. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child visit an orthodontist by age seven or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child's physician.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more spaces for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.

Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Twenty-five percent of orthodontic patients today are adults.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on the teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon the patient's compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.

Eating with Braces

What can you eat? Let's talk about what you shouldn't eat! For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meats, hard breads and raw vegetables. You'll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you're wearing braces. Remember to cut your food into small pieces and this will help you protect your braces.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls and licorice
  • Hard foods: Nuts, candy
  • Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples and carrots
  • Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils, ice or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

General Soreness

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. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe please take Tylenol. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We'll show you how!

Loosening of teeth

This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don't worry! It's normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new-corrected-positions.

Loose Wire or Band

Don't be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If a wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire under the archwire. Simply get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances since extra time will be necessary for your visit. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.

Care of Appliances

To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands, headgear or other appliances which are prescribed. Damaged appliances may lengthen the treatment time.

Brushing

It's more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.

Athletics

If you play sports, it's important that you consult us for special precautions. A protective orthodontic mouthgard is advised for playing contact sports. In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone us at once for an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness

Invisalign

What is it?

Invisalign uses a series of invisible, removable and comfortable aligners that no one can tell you're wearing. So you can smile more during treatment as well as after.

Why would I want it?

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 no problem. They are not uncomfortable and no metal and wires usually means you spend less time in your doctor's office getting adjustments.

How does it work?

You wear each set of aligners for at least 2 weeks, removing them only to eat, drink, brush, and floss. As you replace each aligner with the next in the series, your teeth will move-little by little, week by week – until they have straightened to the final position Dr. David Grosshandler has prescribed. You'll visit Dr. David Grosshandler about once every 6 weeks to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned.