What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialized field of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws (dental and facial abnormalities).
What is an Orthodontist?
Orthodontists are dental specialists in moving teeth and aligning jaws. An orthodontist has extensive training and education that typically requires 4 years of college, 4 years of dental school, and at least 2 years of orthodontic training in an accredited orthodontic residency program. The orthodontist is trained to manage tooth movement (orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics).
- Only those who have successfully completed this formal education may call themselves “orthodontists.”
- Orthodontists limit their scope of work to orthodontics only.
- Orthodontists are uniquely qualified in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of orthodontic problems. They dedicate their professional lives to creating healthy, beautiful smiles in children, teens and adults. Well-aligned teeth are more than attractive: they make it possible to bite, chew and speak effectively. Orthodontic care is often part of a comprehensive oral health plan.
- Orthodontists use a variety of “appliances,” including braces, clear aligner trays and retainers, to move teeth or hold them in their new positions. Because of orthodontists’ advanced education and clinical experience, they have the knowledge and skills necessary to recommend the best kind of appliance to meet every individual patient’s treatment goals.
- Only orthodontists are eligible for membership in the American Association of Orthodontists.
At what age should children be seen by an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child should get an orthodontic exam at the first recognition of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7. Usually by age 7, an orthodontist can recognize if a problem exists or is developing. If early treatment is indicated, often better results may be attained if the condition is addressed at an earlier age while the child is still growing. (Link to Problems in 7 year Olds AAO website)
What are braces?
Braces are either a clear ceramic or metal appliance that is attached to each tooth with a dental adhesive. An orthodontic wire is attached to the braces to apply a mild force to each tooth to slowly move the teeth into their proper position.
Am I too old for orthodontics?
No. Healthy teeth can be moved at any age. Approximately 20% of orthodontic patients are adults. Modern appliances or braces are inconspicuous and can help adults achieve that fantastic smile they have always wanted.
Do I still need to see my dentist for check-ups while wearing my braces?
Absolutely! We want your smile and supporting structures to remain healthy and strong so you can enjoy your smile for a lifetime. We recommend that you continue to see your dentist for regular check-ups throughout your treatment. Sometimes it is even recommended that you see your dentist more frequently during your treatment to maintain your dental health. Our office will keep your dentist informed of your orthodontic treatment, and we will work closely with them both during and after your treatment is complete.
Do braces hurt?
Braces move your teeth by placing a force on the teeth with flexible wires or elastics. Initially, these forces cause the teeth to be tender for 2-4 days after the braces have been placed. The cheeks, tongue, and lips will also be irritated for the first few days after braces placement as well. An over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen (Motrin) or Tylenol and a softer diet for the first few days will make the discomfort very manageable.
Can I play sports or a band instrument with braces?
Yes, many of our patients play a band instrument and/or compete in sports such as football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, and volleyball. Your lips, cheeks, and tongue will need a few days to adjust to your braces but they will not interfere with playing a band instrument. Mouthguards are required by the Minnesota State High School League for football, hockey, and wrestling. We strongly suggest mouthguards to be worn for all contact sports to protect your teeth, lips, and tongue. Our office supplies mouthguards to our patient-athletes at no cost while they are wearing braces.
How do I care for my braces?
- Brush after every meal and floss at least once a day
- Brush for at least 4 minutes at bedtime and in the morning after breakfast
- Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride
- See your dentist on a regular basis
- Avoid foods that contain high amounts of sugar. Foods high in sugar promote bacteria growth and plaque. It is bacteria that causes tooth decay, red and swollen gums (gingivitis), and can leave permanent white marks on your teeth after the braces have been removed
- Avoid hard, sticky, chewy foods. Caramel, taffy, fruit roll-ups, ice cubes, apples, carrots etc. will get caught in your braces or may even break your braces away from your tooth
How long will I have to wear my braces?
Orthodontic treatment varies in length depending on the complexity of the treatment, age of the patient, and the type of treatment chosen. Typical treatment lengths are between 12 and 24 months but treatment may be shorter or longer depending on many factors.