Orthodontic FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program for 2 to 3 years following dental school, to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramics 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 a corrected position. Most bonded brackets can be placed with no discomfort. You can choose brackets that are clear or metallic colour. You can choose the colour of the ties that hold the wire in the brackets. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment time typically ranges from 12-30 months. Interceptive or early treatment can take as few as six months. This varies from patient to patient, depending on such factors as difficulty of the existing problem, age of the patient, certain physiological characteristics of the patient and probably most important patient cooperation during treatment. The success of orthodontic treatment is keynoted by cooperation. It is very important that all instructions be carefully and completely followed.

The main areas of concern include:

  • Wearing certain auxiliaries such as elastics and headgears as instructed (Note: headgear is not necessary for all patients)
  • Being present and on time for all appointments
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene
  • Minimizing appliance breakages
  • Immediate reporting of broken appliances

Poor cooperation in any of these areas can markedly lengthen treatment time and may detract from the end result.

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. 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 first visit an orthodontist by age 7 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 space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites,
overbites, 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 to twenty five percent of orthodontic patients today
are adults.

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 regular
cleanings and dental checkups.

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

Early treatment can guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position, reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth as well as boost self-esteem during critical development years.

Orthodontics improves function, force distribution and wear patterns on teeth. It increases the ability to keep teeth clean which promotes a better long term health of the teeth and gums and lastly, a more attractive smile.

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

Do you have?

  • Upper front teeth that protrude excessively over the lower teeth (overjet
  • Upper front teeth that cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deepbite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • Spaces between the teeth
  • Finger or thumb sucking habits which continue after six years of age