The following are the most frequently asked questions about braces and orthodontic care. If you have additional questions, please ask your dentist, or contact the Center.

What is orthodontics (and dentofacial orthopedics)?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities ("crooked" teeth and mal-positioned jaws). 

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a "dentist- specialist" who is educated and trained to "straighten teeth" by comprehensive means usually involving the utilization of braces. 

When should a child see an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age seven, or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child's physician. Early orthodontic treatment in some cases can prevent major orthodontic treatment later on. In some instances, children need two phases, or stages, of orthodontic treatment. For many children, orthodontic treatment can be postponed to a later time. 

How about adult orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at almost any age. Most people desire a better appearance including a nice smile. 20 -  25% of orthodontic patients are adults. 

How do I know if I need braces? And, what are the benefits?

This is ultimately governed by the recommendation of an orthodontist. The number one reason to choose braces is the desire to improve your smile. Orthodontic care can also address problems such as dental open bites, which make it difficult to chew food properly. 

How long will treatment last?

Treatment time in orthodontics is quite variable depending on difficulty and also patient cooperation. Sometimes new technologies, proper diagnosis and treatment plans can shorten treatment times. Typically for comprehensive cases requiring a full set of braces, the range of treatment time is 18 to 27 months. Keeping your appointments, following your doctor's instructions, caring for your braces and practicing good oral hygiene is the best method of completing your treatment on time, or in some cases, earlier than anticipated. 

What can I expect on my first visit?

At your complimentary initial visit, we'll determine a course of treatment and provide an estimate of the treatment costs. If you decide you would like to move forward, we can take the required records including X-rays, and make an appointment to proceed with your orthodontic care. 

What kind of braces are available? 

Today, braces can be a fashion statement. At times, instead of traditional metal braces, contemporary looking braces can be used. For Self-ligating braces, which require no elastic ties, can possibly reduce the number of orthodontic visits. There are several types of so-called "invisible braces." Some of these are "clear/transparent" in color but work like traditional metal braces. In addition, there are a series of invisible mouth guard like appliances (not really braces) that patients can remove to eat and clean. The choice of appliance is somewhat dependent on the arrangement of the crooked teeth. 

How long does it take to apply braces?

It depends on the individual case, but typically 50 minutes to one and one-half hour. 

Will my braces hurt?

Modern bands and brackets are designed to minimize any discomfort. However, your mouth will usually be sore the first few days after you get braces and for a day or two each time they're tightened. This varies from patient to patient. If you experience pain that doesn't diminish, alert your doctor and he/she will determine the cause of your problem. Also, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen may help if it is taken one hour before your appointment as needed. 

Will braces cause sores?

They may at first. A soft piece of wax (provided by your orthodontist) can be used to cover a brace or wire that may be causing the sore. Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water often helps as well. 

Do I need to do anything special the first week or so?

Yes, while you're getting used to the braces, eat softer foods. Most importantly, spend more time cleaning your teeth and braces. 

Do I need to brush more with braces?

With braces you will need to practice diligent oral hygiene since the braces and wires attract more food. Plan to brush with fluoridated toothpaste after every meal and a fluoride gel before you go to bed. Flossing, or other means of cleaning between the teeth/braces, can be important to remove trapped food. 

Can I play sports?

Yes! However, plan to wear an orthodontic mouth guard for protection. 

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment and there may be the need to use a "brace cover" (this could be a lump of soft wax) for a while. 

Can I still chew gum with braces?

Gum is not a good idea during orthodontic treatment because it can stick to your braces. In addition, the sugar in most gums can cause cavities. However, ask your orthodontist if non-stick, sugar free gum is an option. 

What foods should I avoid?

Stay away from hard, sticky, gooey or crunchy foods. If food is too hard, it could cause some of your braces to loosen, bend or break. Hard, nutritious food like vegetables and fruits should be cut and sectioned before eating. 

What happens if a bracket does come off?

This is typically not an emergency that needs immediate care. In this instance, clean around the loose bracket(s), or remove it from the wire. The orthodontist will attach another one. 

Why do some people wear rubber bands?

he rubber bands are used to move teeth forward, backward, and/or up and down. If rubber bands are recommended for you and you don't wear them, it could lengthen your treatment time. 

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

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

Will I need to wear a retainer?

Yes! Retainers keep your teeth straight after the braces come off. Without them your teeth will move and the entire treatment could be jeopardized. Typically, retainers are recommended "for life."